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Mel Kiper Mock Draft: Offensive line focus continues for the Vikings

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Once again, ESPN’s draft expert focuses on the front line

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With the offseason officially in full swing and the Scouting Combine just around the corner, it’s time to take a look at another mock draft from Mel Kiper. . .dramatic pause. . .draft expert.

Kiper and his hair have released their latest mock draft behind the great E$PN paywall, and he once again has the Minnesota Vikings focusing on the offensive line with a name that generally isn’t dropping that low in most of the mocks I’ve seen to this point.

The pick from Kiper for the purple is University of Alabama tackle Jonah Williams. Here’s what Kiper has to say about the selection:

Minnesota continues to be linked with offensive linemen in this draft, as free-agent signing Kirk Cousins was under heavy pressure in 2018 behind a makeshift line. The team could address the position in free agency and still have a need. Williams, who made 43 straight starts at tackle for the Crimson Tide, could move inside to guard. At 6-foot-5, 301 pounds, he doesn’t have the long arms that NFL teams like for their left tackles, but he could be an elite guard.

In Kiper’s mock, Williams is just the second offensive lineman off the board, with the only other one being University of Florida offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor (who went to the Jacksonville Jaguars at #7). That means that, in this scenario, the Vikings would have their pick of just about any offensive lineman they’d want to grab.

Williams’ credentials certainly are impressive. He was a third-team All-American in 2017, and a unanimous All-American choice this past season, as well as being two-time first-team All-SEC. He was a three-year starter for the Crimson Tide, starting at right tackle as a freshman before moving to the left tackle spot for the past two seasons.

I’m not nuanced enough in offensive line evaluation to know whether Williams’ best spot on the offensive line in the NFL would continue to be tackle or if a move to guard would be as beneficial as a lot of the experts seem to think it is. What I do know is that, in just about every set of prospect rankings I’ve seen to this point, Jonah Williams is the #1 offensive lineman available in this year’s draft. However, as I said in my post this weekend, if the Vikings want him to play on the inside, they need to commit to it. Don’t go in with the attitude that you’re going to start him at guard for a season or two and then move him somewhere else. If you want him at guard, put him at guard and keep him there.

Wherever the Vikings would want to play him, Jonah Williams would immediately add a solid injection of talent into the offensive line. If he were to fall to #18, the Vikings should be running to the podium in Nashville to make him the selection, in my opinion.