The Combine is over, and were currently in the smoke-and-mirrors stage of free agency and Vikings QB speculation, so I thought I’d would be nice to take a break from idle speculation about who the next Vikings QB will be, and turn to idle speculation about who the Vikings will/should draft with their first-round pick.
Vikings in Best Player Available Mode
The Vikings are fortunate in that they don’t have a bunch of big holes to fill in their roster, and even depth is better than it was a year or two ago. That being the case, they could literally do anything, draft any position, trade up, trade down- you name it- to get the guys they want as the draft unfolds.
Last year I was hoping/predicting the Vikings would draft Alvin Kamara as high as their 2nd round pick, maybe moving down a few spots to do so, which would have worked out just fine, but Dalvin Cook made it to the 2nd round and Rick Spielman did what I thought least likely- trade up with his 2nd round pick. Glad he did. Even though Cook went down with an ACL, I think he’ll outshine Kamara or Kareem Hunt when he is back healthy. I thought Pat Elflein was a target with the 3rd round pick, and that happened. I had Jaleel Johnson as a potential 4th round pick (along with Elijah Lee who wasn’t drafted until late in the 7th I believe), and I had Rodney Adams and Dylan Bradley as potential 7th round picks too. They picked up both, but Bradley was a UDFA, and Adams was a 5th rounder.
But this year it will be harder to predict, in part because the Vikings have fewer real needs, and I suspect the normally free-wheelin’ and dealin’ Rick Spielman may be even more so in pursuit of best player available, which could lead to some surprising picks, and plenty of trades.
O-Line Still Most in Need
That said, I’d be surprised if the Vikings don’t look at add to their offensive line. It looks now like Joe Berger may be back for another season, but will explore free agency, so who knows if he’ll be back with the Vikings. Wouldn’t be surprised. He was the highest PFF-rated starting lineman for the Vikings for the 3rd straight year last season.
But with or without Berger, the interior line is a relative strength for the Vikings at this point, particularly if the plan is for Mike Remmers to move inside at guard, as was done the last few games last season.
That being the case, even with Rashod Hill at RT and Riley Reiff at LT, the Vikings need to bolster their offensive tackles. So, I’m looking for the Vikings to draft a right tackle at #30.
There has been plenty of mock drafts with Mike McGlinchey going to the Vikings, and we all know the Vikings like Notre Dame guys, but I get turned off when draft evaluations of offensive linemen have concerns about “lack of core strength.” That translates to me into a guy that may not hold up well against NFL defensive linemen, and may not be ready to start for at least a year. David Yankey had the problem, for example, but there are others.
So, I’m gonna go with Orlando Brown as my pick, at the moment, at #30 for the Vikings.
Strength is not an issue for the big tackle out of Oklahoma, who at 6’8”, 360 pounds, may remind you of big Phil Loadholt.
Brown had been pegged to go earlier in the first round, but apparently there was concern about him at the Combine, as pretty much the only guy he beat with his 40-time was Rich Eisen (by 12 hundreths in case you were wondering). So, that appears to have effected his draft stock, and now the range for him seems to be somewhere in the mid-first round, to mid-second round.
Okay, that underscores some lack of athleticism for the big tackle, but he’s big, he’s long (35” arms), and with a little better strength/conditioning and nutrition program, he could improve on that score. In any case, I’m not sure how important a 40 time is for any lineman, except as a reflection of athleticism, but strength, length, technique and footwork all play bigger roles, particularly for a right-tackle. Brown played left-tackle at Oklahoma, but looks best suited to play right tackle in the NFL, which is where the Vikings have the biggest need.
The other top tackles in the draft- McGlinchey, Connor Williams, Jamarco Jones, Kolton Miller - look to be more left tackle prospects, and they all have their issues, as does Brown.
But overall, Brown looks like the best right-tackle prospect in the draft, and he may be there for the Vikings at #30. He may not be the best fit for the Vikings more zone-heavy scheme of late, but he looks to be an improvement in pass protection, and it’s hard to see him as a liability as a run blocker.
That said, there are plenty of other possibilities at #30. Taven Bryan at 3-tech is one. Dallas Goedert is another at TE. Isiah Wynn and Will Hernandez are others at guard. I could see a trade up if Quenton Nelson falls enough to make the cost manageable. Or, perhaps more likely, as Spielman is short some draft capital this year, a move back into the 2nd round and a move up again later that could potentially yield both a top guard like Wynn or Hernandez, and a tackle like Brown, if things play out right for the Vikings. I think I like that best.
Here is some highlight tape of Brown:
Who do you like at #30?
Should Rick Spielman Trade the Vikings First Round Pick?
This poll is closed
Yes- Trade Up
Yes- Trade Down
No- Keep #30