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Guys the Vikings Are More/Most Likely to Draft

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NCAA Football: Arkansas at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

When the Vikings held their ‘Top 30’ event in Eagan earlier this month, it included some prospects the Vikings had not met with previously - including some that could potentially be the Vikings’ first pick- such as OT Mike McGlinchey, CB Mike Hughes, OT Connor Williams, and S Justin Reid. I say first pick, rather than first-round pick, as I would not be surprised to see Rick Spielman trade back with his first-round pick this year, and pick up some additional draft capital in the process. It would not be particularly surprising if Mr. Spielman was pretty active in the draft again this year, and I would not be surprised if he used some of next year’s draft capital, and/or traded a player or two on the roster, to bolster his haul in this year’s draft.

Be that as it may, based on the draft prospects the Vikings have shown the most interest in, and considering the number of other teams showing interest in the same player, here are some draft prospects that look more likely to be drafted by the Vikings at the end of the month. Prospects listed in alphabetical order, with links to their draft profile in their name/position/college.

Jeff Badet, WR, Oklahoma State

UDFA prospect the Vikings have shown more interest in than the handful of other teams that have met with him. Was at the Vikings Top 30 event. Kick-returner in college.

J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State

Barrett, despite being QB and captain of a top program at OSU for 3 years, isn’t seen as an NFL talent at QB, and the Vikings are the only team that’s met with him. He’s known as a high character guy and good leader used to working with NFL talent, so the Vikings could take him as a UDFA to fill a role during the off-season/training camp.

Alex Cappa, OT, Humboldt State

So far only one other team has met with Cappa (Giants), and the Vikings are the only team to bring him in for their top 30 event. Pretty good chance the Vikings use a Day 3 pick to nab Cappa, who would compete with Rashod Hill and Aviante Collins for what could be a starting OT and swing tackle job if Mike Remmers moves inside to left guard.

The highlight reels of Cappa are kind of a bummer in terms of being high school quality, but suffice it to say he manhandled whoever lined up across from him at Humboldt State. He showed up pretty well against NFL-quality DEs at the Senior Bowl as well.

Lorenzo Carter, OLB/EDGE, Georgia

A handful of teams met with Carter at the Combine, but only the Vikings have met with him beyond that. Carter was at the Vikings’ Top 30 event. The Vikings could potentially use their 2nd round pick on Carter, who has an Anthony Barr-type skill set.

Jack Cichy, LB, Wisconsin

Only two teams have met with Cichy, and the Vikings have shown way more interest. Would not be surprised if the Vikings used a 6-7th round pick on Cichy, or possibly even pick him up as a UDFA. Likely a special teams guy and backup LB. Missed the last 20 games at Wisconsin with injuries, so that’s an issue that hurts his draft stock.

Holton Hill, CB, Texas

The Vikings were the first team to meet with Hill, although two more teams have since met with him. He has top CB talent, but has ‘maturity’ issues that will likely impact his draft stock. Maybe more of a mid-round gamble, probably not before the 4th round, if the Vikings’ are comfortable with his character issues.

Here’s some highlights of Hill last season:

“He will fall further than he should because you can’t trust him. He needed a clean, productive season to rehab the perception around him and I felt like he should have gone back to school. He can play. He’s a Day 2 talent, but I doubt he goes there.” -- NFC area scout

Hill looks like he could be a mid- to late-round steal if he’s able to solve whatever maturity issues he has, and gets serious about football as a professional.

Michael Joseph, CB, Dubuque

Vikings met him at the Senior Bowl, and are the only team to meet with him. Could be a 7th round/UDFA pick. He’s a D-III guy with good ball skills but needs coaching, and hasn’t played against NFL talent. A project with potential.

“He can run and he can go get the ball. He’s raw, but he has the talent you want from a cornerback. Why would you want a technician who can’t play the ball? He (Joseph) can be coached up.” -- AFC Personnel Director

Jordan Lasley, WR, UCLA

Vikings are one of only three teams to meet with Lasley, and one of two to bring him in to their Top 30 event. Lasley is another guy that has talent, but character issues that have persisted with him since high school. The Vikings could take a late round flyer on him if he’s there- and he could very well be.

“He can go! You can’t watch him and not be impressed, but he’s got a pattern of behavior that isn’t going away in my opinion. He doesn’t hold himself accountable. He just acts any kind of way. He could go in the second round or seventh round but he has a lot of ability.” -- NFC area scout

Lasley is meant to be a field stretcher that can get separation, but also has drop issues to go along with some off-field issues. Huge range of where he could go in the draft, but I doubt the Vikings will be that interested before Day 3, if he’s still there.

Brad Lundblade, C, Oklahoma State

Vikings are the only team that has met with Lundblade, who is likely a UDFA candidate. He has the strength, but is lacking in athleticism and arm length.

Uchenna Nwosu, OLB, USC

Vikings and Eagles have expressed the most interest in Nwosu among a handful teams showing interest. Some have him projected as a 2nd round pick, but I doubt the Vikings have interest in him that early. If he’s there on Day 3, the Vikings could draft him. Could backup any of the LB spots, along with special teams duty. Has a knack for blocking passes.

“He didn’t play until late in his high school career and he’s only started for the last two and a half years at USC. I guess you could argue it either way, but I think he’s worth a pick on day three because we haven’t really seen what he’s going to be yet.” - NFC West Coast scout

Quentin Poling, LB, Ohio

Can’t find much on him, but Vikings invited him to the Top 30 event. Dolphins met with him on his Pro Day, and that’s the only other interest. Could be a UDFA.

Frank Ragnow, G/C, Arkansas

The Bills are the only other team to have met with the Victoria, MN native. I suspect the Vikings have Ragnow higher on their board than Billy Price, and I suspect he’ll be a pick sometime during Day 2 for the Vikings, and most likely either take over Joe Berger’s spot at right guard or replace Pat Elflein at center and have Elflein move to right guard. PFF recently had a glowing article about Ragnow, who the Vikings could pick in the 2nd round- but they may have to draft him ahead of the Bills, who have picks #53 and #56- which would mean Spielman may need to make a trade to get him. If they don’t get Ragnow, Billy Price may be Plan B.

“He’s a tough guy and a leader in that locker room. He’s got the personality that you want your center to have and he’s got good strength. I see him as an early starter in the league.” - NFC area scout

Jaylen Samuels, RB, NC State

Samuels may be a poor-man’s Jerick McKinnon replacement, who is versatile as a RB, FB, or slot receiver- in addition to playing special teams in all likelihood. Samuels is not as athletic as McKinnon, but is bigger and is more of an H-back that can block, run routes out of the backfield, play TE, and take a hand-off too.

“Here is the problem I’m having in writing my report. Does he have any special talent or is he just a player who is used in a variety of roles? Is he really, really good at any of his roles or just versatile? That can be the difference between going in the third round or the fifth round.” -- NFC team area scout

Kemoko Turay, OLB/DE, Rutgers

Vikings are one of two teams that met with Turay, and the only team to bring him in for a Top 30 visit. He’s a bit of a project, but with good traits and talent. A 3rd/4th roundish possibility. My guess is that the Vikings could draft Turay or Nwosu, but not both.

Jake Wieneke, WR, South Dakota State

Only two teams met with Wieneke, and the Vikings clearly have shown the most interest. Wieneke is a 6’4” red zone threat, but doesn’t have the wheels (only 4.67” 40). Could be a UDFA the Vikings sign.

Caveats Abound

All of the above prospects I included as the Vikings have been one of only a few teams showing relatively strong interest in terms of meetings. But of course that is no guarantee a prospect is drafted by a given team. Sometimes through multiple meetings a prospect moves down or is eliminated from a team’s draft board. Sometimes team’s disguise their interest in a prospect. And still other prospects a team has every intention of drafting, and perhaps has shown equal interest as a handful of other teams, but another team beats them to the punch.

Having said that, recent history for the Vikings suggests that particularly with mid- to late-round picks, there is a pretty strong chance they’ll end up drafting prospects they’ve met with, particularly when they have shown the most interest compared to other teams. Jaleel Johnson, Ben Gedeon, Elijah Lee, Rodney Adams and Pat Elflein are all examples of the Vikings drafting guys they met with pre-draft. Aviante Collins and Dylan Bradley as UDFAs as well.

Okay, But What About the Other Picks?

Of the above prospects, half of them could end up being UDFAs if the Vikings sign them. A couple others are likely either/or prospects as well, so there still could be at least another handful of picks- including the Vikings first pick- that are less certain.

Given that, there are a few more prospects that the Vikings would be leading contenders to draft, even if other teams have shown more interest, and/or there are several other teams showing equal or more interest than the Vikings.

One of those prospects is Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. For a guy that most draft sites have going in the first round, even in the top 15 or so picks, there certainly has not been that level of interest shown among teams in terms of visits with McGlinchey. Only four teams have met with him, and only the Vikings and Bengals have had any type of private visit/workout with him. As one of the somewhat underwhelming top OT prospects in this year’s draft, I suspect he may not be high enough on any team’s draft board to be taken ahead of the Vikings at #30.

Another is Connor Williams, OT, Texas. It’s interesting that both McGlinchey and Williams were invited to the Vikings Top 30 event, but the Vikings had not shown any interest in them until just this week. McGlinchey and Williams are PFF’s top two ranked OT prospects in this year’s draft. While McGlinchey’s weakness may be how high a ceiling he has, Williams’ weakness is that he missed most of last year with a knee injury, and didn’t look as good in the games he played as he did in his excellent sophomore year. Again, only four teams have met with Williams at this point, and only the Cowboys and Vikings have invited him to their Top 30 event. The Bengals and Cowboys are the only teams that have had multiple visits with McGlinchey and Williams, respectively.

Trades Will Happen

The one thing we know about Vikings’ GM Rick Spielman is that he is not shy about making trades throughout the three days of the draft. He wheels and deals more than just about every GM in the league, and I would be surprised if he didn’t make multiple trades during this year’s draft.

One draft possibility to keep an eye on: trading early round picks with the Colts. Lots of possibilities, as the Colts have three 2nd round picks, if the Vikings decided to trade back with their first-round pick. One possibility: The Vikings trade back all the way to #49 with their #30 pick, while also picking up the Colts’ 3rd round #67 pick and 4th round #104 pick for the Vikings 3rd round #94 and 6th round #213 picks. That works out according to the draft value trade chart (and most of Spielman’s trades come pretty close to those trade values), while allowing both teams to spread out their picks a little more.

Obviously that is pretty significant shake-up for both teams, which makes it less likely to happen, but I could see Spielman looking to bolster his draft capital in the 2nd and 3rd rounds- based on the prospects they’ve shown the most interest in- which would likely involve trading back with his 1st round pick, and likely some other deals as well.

That’s what makes the draft fun to watch- at least the first couple days anyway.