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ESPN proposes a Vikings’ target for each day of the 2018 NFL Draft

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A couple of guys you might not be considering

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

We’re just a week away from the 2018 NFL Draft, which means that more and more names are going to be connected with the Minnesota Vikings (and with 31 NFL teams that don’t matter as much). We know who the guys that are expected to go early are, but what about later on in the draft?

Over behind the great E$PN paywall, Steve Muench from Scouts, Inc. has proposed players for each team to look at on each day of this year’s selection meeting. Who is he looking at for the Minnesota Vikings?

Well, his target for the Vikings on Day 1 of this year’s draft is UCLA offensive tackle Kolton Miller. Braden Smith, a guard out of Auburn, is a target for Day 2, while Northwestern running back Justin Jackson is Muench’s target for Day 3.

Here’s what he has to say about the trio:

Miller is a better tester than football player but there’s a lot to like about his upside and taking him with a late first is justifiable for a team without a lot of pressing needs. He’s versatile enough to provide depth at both offensive tackle spots and he could push Mike Remmers for the starting right tackle job as a rookie. If he wins that job, it would allow Remmers to move to left guard, where he lined up during the playoffs. Smith has an elite combination of size, speed and power (35 reps on bench press was tied for second-best among the offensive linemen at the combine). A three-year starter at right guard in college, he could push and eventually supplant free-agent signing Tom Compton at right guard. With Dalvin Cook coming off a season-ending knee injury and Jerick McKinnon signing with the 49ers, adding a back with the ability to contribute on third down would make sense on Day 3. Jackson is an above-average receiver with slightly above-average ball skills and the potential to develop into an effective route runner. His three-cone (4.07) and short shuttle (6.81) times are quicker than the five-year combine averages for receivers.

Now, as I’ve said before in this space numerous times, I prefer to see Remmers lining up at right tackle, but I’m not a coach for this team, so my opinion doesn’t mean a hell of a lot. I also understand that the Vikings bringing back Nick Easton might not necessitate them taking a guard in the first round and could give them a bit more flexibility.

Having said that, the Vikings are probably looking for guys that can come in and make an immediate contribution, and I don’t know if Miller is that guy. Yes, if the Vikings push Remmers inside to make room for Miller, then he probably starts at right tackle. Given Miller’s size and athletic ability, the long-term plan would almost certainly be to get him over to left tackle at some point, which would necessitate another shift. . .Riley Reiff to right tackle instead of left tackle. I just think the Vikings might want a more polished product right away than Miller.

In the scenario that Muench proposes, Smith might actually be the biggest immediate contributor. Mel Kiper. . .dramatic pause. . .Draft Expert, thinks that Smith is a “plug-and-play” starter at guard, and that’s something that the Vikings probably need to come out of this draft with. If the Vikings want to put Easton back at left guard, then Smith would wind up in the right guard spot that Joe Berger occupied before his retirement.

As far as Jackson, he’s not a guy that I’ve heard come up that often. Having watched a lot of B1G football, I’ve seen plenty of him over the past couple of years. He’s not a real big guy at 5’11” and just short of 200 pounds, and he got a lot of touches in four years with the Wildcats. Most places I’ve seen have Jackson listed as a sixth or seventh rounder, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Vikings potentially address the position earlier than that.

What do you think of the Scouts, Inc. targets for the Vikings?