For those of you that have been following the 2018 SB Nation Writer Mock Draft, you saw that our pick went off the board earlier this morning. It wasn’t a player at the one spot that the Vikings have the greatest need at, but there’s a reason for that.
With the way the board fell, I wound up selecting Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson for the Minnesota Vikings. While cornerback is a need for the Vikings, we know that it isn’t the absolutely screaming need that the offensive line is. However, with the way that the board had fallen to that point, I didn’t think Jackson could be passed up.
The top-flight offensive linemen were off the board by #30 in our scenario. Georgia guard Isaiah Wynn went to San Diego at #17, Ohio State center Billy Price went to Cincinnati at #21, Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey was gone to New England at #23. . .and, then, just before our pick, the Jacksonville Jaguars swooped in and sniped UTEP guard Will Hernandez at #29. Hernandez would have been the clear pick had he fallen just one more spot, but he didn’t, so we had to adjust.
Ideally, the next position to look at would have been defensive tackle. However, we saw much the same scenario there, as Vita Vea, Da’Ron Payne, Maurice Hurst, and Taven Bryan were all off the board by pick #30. The one position that seemed to be falling was cornerback, and while it’s not the Vikings’ biggest need, it’s one that probably can’t be ignored.
As I highlighted in the write-up I did for the mothership, the Vikings do have a bit of uncertainty at cornerback behind Xavier Rhodes. They have a decision to make on the fifth-year option for Trae Waynes, Terence Newman hasn’t yet re-signed (and is, you know, 40), and Mackensie Alexander, while much improved in his second season, still has problems with consistency. Plus, in today’s NFL, you can never have too much depth at defensive back, so Jackson makes sense.
For as great a defense as the Vikings are, they don’t generate a lot of takeaways. In 2017, only eight defenses generated fewer turnovers than the 19 the Vikings did. Jackson would, potentially, be a step towards solving that problem. He led all FBS defensive backs last season with eight interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. He only started for one season with the Hawkeyes, but he was outstanding.
According to Pro Football Focus, Jackson allowed an NFL passer rating of 36.5 on passes thrown into his coverage last season, which is a lower rating than a quarterback would have if he simply dropped back and threw each pass straight into the ground (that would be a rating of 39.6). He was also outstanding covering just about every different sort of route.
Jackson came to Iowa as a wide receiver, which appears to have helped him in terms of route anticipation and ball skills. He’s defintely a ball hawk, and has the sort of size that Mike Zimmer likes in his cornerbacks.
While Jackson might not be an instant starter for the Vikings, he would most certainly be someone that could step in and provide quality snaps in the event that someone got hurt. . .which, considering that Rhodes seems to have a series or two every game where he has to come off the field, could be a huge help. He’s also someone that the Vikings could develop over the long-term, and his ceiling is as high as any corner in this year’s class, given his limited time at the corner spot to this point.
I would have really loved to snag Hernandez at #30 overall. . .but, with the way the scenario fell this year, Jackson would be a pretty sweet consolation prize.