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2019 NFL Draft: Mock Wars, Ted 1.0: The Phantom Draft Picks

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far one did mock drafts.

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Rick Spielman when reading mock draft stories. Probably.
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Hi kids, are we ready for the weekend? Are we ready for Mock Draft season?

I’m ready for the former, but not the latter. I want to write about three paragraphs of fluff to forestall my initial foray into mock draft season, but it’s ‘old man yelling at cloud’ at this point, so it’s time for me to embrace that which I hate, come to the dark side, and fully embrace Mock Draft Season.

If you’re a fan of mock drafts and you’re generally interested in what my picks that will come true are, a fair word of warning: I am not a scout, a draft guru, or an amateur mock draft expert. I claim no mantle of expertise, although I am a fan of fireplace mantles in general, especially old ones.

And I’m bad at this when compared to picks the Vikings actually take. How bad?

Judge for yourself and take a look at my final mock from last year.

Now that I have my built in excuses out of the way and you still want to read, thanks for staying! To run my mock draft, I’m using the Fanspeak On The Clock Draft simulator. I paid the extra money to make trades and stuff, so I expect someone to set up a GoFundMe for the ten bucks I put out to give you this kind of quality entertainment.

Methodology: I make my picks based on talent available and need, but with so many personnel questions left to be answered for the Vikings, other than offensive line the team needs for the Vikings aren’t as obvious right now as they would be once free agency is over, for example.

To determine my needs besides offensive line, I’m going to go with the assumption that between Anthony Barr, Sheldon Richardson, and Everson Griffen, two of these players will be elsewhere come draft day. So with that in mind, my needs are:

Offensive line


Defensive line

Wide receiver

In setting up the draft variables, I chose to use Matt Miller’s Bleacher Report as my big board, the computer is using multiple, as it would be in the actual draft, and the difficulty level is set to classic. Team needs were set to the Fanspeak default.

Heading into round one, the picks available for the Vikings are:

My draft strategy is to try and mimic GM Rick Spielman as much as possible—controlled aggression to get players that are dropping (see Dalvin Cook) or the best players available at a real position of need (see Pat Elflein). I know Spielman likes to have 10 picks heading into draft weekend, and if he doesn’t have them he’ll make trades to get to ten picks. But my ultimate goal is to get the best players I can assemble, not assemble 10 players.

Okay, onto the draft that won’t be close to anything accurate when it’s all said and done.

1st Round:

Before the round begins, I get two offers:

Okay, so these are the choices in front of me: Move up and expend a lot of draft capital to get a great player at almost any spot, to include a guy like Jonah Williams or Cody Ford, probably. Or, move down, stay in the first round, get an extra second round pick, and still get a day one starter depending on how the board falls. I also have enough draft capital now to move up into the second round if a player starts unexpectedly falling, so I accept the Chargers offer. I now have these picks, and am only one away from the Spielman magic number of 10:

When I get to pick 28, this is my big board:

But, I also get these two offers:

I think those are both fair offers, but I don’t want to trade out of the first round. there’s a player here I really like, even though I think his draft stock will rise after the combine and realistically won’t be around if I keep moving down. I’m going to turn down these offers and make my pick.

Selection: Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State

Rationale: It seems the only way the Vikings will land a guy like Ford or Williams is with a trade up, and in my opinion, Risner is the best offensive lineman after those two guys. He can play any position, he has a mean streak that is sorely needed on the line, and his strengths play into a zone blocking scheme, which the Vikings are reportedly looking to get back to, especially with news of the new offensive line coach that’s been hired. I love the fact that I was able to trade down and still get Risner here.

2nd Round:

I got no offers for my first pick in this round, and this is my big board as I come on the clock:

I’ve got my biggest need taken care of, and even though I still need help there I think I can get a guy that can help me right away with my other second round pick. I’ll make my pick here:

Selection, pick 50 (2/18): Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama

Rationale: I’m having a hard time seeing Anthony Barr back in purple next year. I mean if he was going to be back, I think there would have been a new deal done by now, but I could be wrong. If I’m right, though, Wilson reminds a bit of Eric Kendricks, who was more of an athletic prospect as opposed to finished product when he came out of UCLA. Mike Zimmer can coach up defensive players, and I think WIlson could become a really solid player under Zim’s tutelage.

As I get to my second pick this round, once again I receive no offers, and I have no desire to make a trade down, as I’m fortunate the player I want is still available:

Selection, pick 60 (2/28): Garrett Bradbury, C, NC State

Rationale: Bradbury is about as perfect a fit for a zone blocking concept as there is. He’s a better center, but could play guard. I still like Pat Elflein, and with a full off-season to spend doing typical strength and conditioning training as opposed to recovering from two surgeries, I think Elf rebounds. But Bradbury gives the Vikings position flexibility, and can play center if Elflein is still struggling. With this pick, the Vikes o-line now projects to Reiff-Risner-Elf-Bradbury-O’Neill. That might actually get me excited about the Vikings again, because that feels like a heck of a promising offensive line.

3rd Round:

When the third round begins, I get two trade offers:

Meh. I don’t really want to give up a fourth round pick to move up five spots, especially with no fifth rounder, so I won’t take Washington’s offer. And lol trading with a division rival to give them better draft position.

As I come on the clock I get two more offers:

Yeah, no. There’s a guy here I want who won’t be around if I keep trading down, and I’ve already gambled and lost on a player I was eyeing being available. My big board:

I thought I could sit tight and get one of the two EDGE rushers still on the board, Chase Winovich or Charles Omenihu. They were both gone in the first five picks of this round, and Ben Banogu is a reach here. I’m kind of irritated with myself, but all is not lost.

Selection: Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford

Rationale: The Vikings will probably ask Kyle Rudolph to re-work his contract to lower his 2019 cap number, and they’ll probably get a deal done. But it’s no certainty, and Rudolph is still on the back end of his career. After him, David Morgan is a better pass blocker than receiver at this point, and Tyler Conklin hasn’t proven he can be the guy yet. Smith is like a mini-Rudolph—good pass catcher over the middle, can make really contested catches but drop an easy one now and again, but has a little more upside as a run blocker.

4th Round:

When the fourth round starts, two more offers come my way. They are from the Packers (12th pick) and the the Panthers (13th pick); both are a trade up and a loss of my sixth round pick. With no fifth round pick, I pass. And I laugh at Brian Gutekunst as I hang up the phone. When it comes time for me to pick, I get two more offers:

There’s no one I really want or need right here, at least picking this high. There is a guy I’m targeting, but I think I can get away with a trade here. I’ll take Atlanta’s trade and sit the fourth round out.

My remaining picks are now as follows:

I don’t have a selection in this round, but I now have ten picks, woo hoo!

5th Round:

With two picks this round, and still some needs I have to fill, I need to hit on both of these selections. The big board as I come up to pick 153:

I could kick my own ass. I thought WR Terry McLarin from OSU would be available here, but he went four picks before me, to Buffalo. My next option is still around though, and you could argue he has more potential than McLarin:

Selection, pick 153 (5/14): Jakobi Meyers, NC State

Rationale: He was a productive guy in a conservative offense, as he had over 1,000 yards receiving in 2018. It’s only his third year as a WR after converting over from QB, and while he’s still a bit raw, I think he can develop nicely as a guy who can move around to all three positions as a receiver. And thus ends our annual ‘Laquon Treadwell is going to break out’ narrative. You’re welcome.

The big board at pick 173:

Selection, pick 173 (5/34): Kendall Joseph, LB, Clemson

Rationale: Joseph kind of got overlooked on Clemson’s national championship defense, but I think a lot of that has to do with guys he was playing with, and not necessarily ability. I think he’s a really good value pick here, and can come in and compete for some playing time right away, especially if Barr is gone.

6th Round:

I still haven’t gotten a defensive lineman, and I need one. As the round starts, there are one of two guys I think I can nab, but I have thought that in almost every round so far and it’s burned me. I’m picking 17th and 35th in this round, and these guys start creeping up the board as the round develops. After the 8th pick (183), I make a trade offer, because I don’t want to miss out on a defensive lineman here. I ring up Buffalo, and they accept this:

I’m now on the clock, and I can finally take a d-lineman. The big board:

Selection, pick 184, (6/9—nice): Carl Granderson, EDGE, Wyoming

Rationale: Who’s going to be around come draft day? If you think it’s Sheldon Richardson, the play here is Carl Granderson. If you think Griffen will still be wearing purple, the pick should be DeMarcus Christmas. I just have a bad feeling it will be Griff who won’t be here, so I chose Granderson. And you could even make the argument to take Granderson anyway, as an EDGE guy generally has more value than an interior d-lineman, especially at this stage of the draft.

NOTE: I also try to draft players that are guys Spielman and company would take. They stay away from players that have been arrested for sexual assault, and apparently that happened to Granderson yesterday. I didn’t know about the incident until someone pointed it out to me on Twitter after the piece was posted, or I would have fake selected Christmas instead. My bad.

The big board changes some as we get to the next pick, but let’s face it...we’re late in the sixth round and you have no idea who we’re talking about anymore, unless you are a complete draft nerd or the player went to your school. Pick is in:

Selection, pick 210 (6/35): Corey Ballantine, CB, Washburn

Rationale: If Rick Spielman doesn’t take at least one CB, Mike Zimmer might punch him in the gonads, that’s why.

7th Round:

For me, the 7th round is ‘take a flyer on a QB’ round. I don’t care what the big board says, because most of the guys still remaining won’t make an NFL roster. The same holds true for QB, but yeah whatever shut up. Last year, I took J.T. Barrett as my final pick in every round, and I’m going to choose another J.T. Barrett for this mock draft season.

Selection: Easton Stick, QB, NDSU

Rationale: I’m just not a fan of Trevor Siemian, and I think it’s time to move Kyle Sloter to the primary backup behind Cousins, and make Stick the new developmental guy behind Sloter.


To review, here is my first mock draft class:

I made the following trades:

Overall, I like what did at the top of the class. there will be other needs as the off-season progresses, but the obvious one today is offensive line, and I took care of that early, with really good picks that will fit in well with a zone blocking scheme. Depending on what happens in free agency, defensive line could be an issue as I only took one player there, and although I got a WR, I might have waited too long to get someone that can come in and immediately contribute in a meaningful way.

Finally, I’m happy with linebacker depth if Anthony Barr leaves, and I think I took a guy that can come in and contribute at tight end if Kyle Rudolph isn’t here. Let me know your thoughts, and if you’d like to see how the entire mock draft went down, you can click this link here:


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