The NFL Draft is about three weeks out, and mock drafts are in full swing. But whenever I bother to look at mocks among the prominent sites, especially those longer than one round, I find them somewhere between uninformed and bizarre at best.
Some mock guys the Vikings haven’t met with, are not good fits for their scheme, not position of priority/need, and/or seem way off in terms of round value. So, armed with a little more local knowledge than a national sports writer may have, I thought I’d do a more realistic mock draft for the Vikings.
First, I’m going to limit my draft picks to guys the Vikings have actually met. Sure, the Vikings draft guys they didn’t meet during the pre-draft process - particularly in later rounds - but among day one and two picks those are the exceptions, not the rule.
Secondly, I’m going with some sort of combination big board consensus that has actually worked in the automated mock draft engines as some measure of realism in terms of which players are available for each pick.
Third, I’m considering team needs based on the number of prospects they’ve met with in those position groups, and where most of those prospects seem likely to be drafted.
Lastly, and I don’t consider this realistic, I’m not making any trades. I would be surprised if Rick Spielman did not make at least one trade during the draft, and most likely multiple if history is a guide. But that complicates matters and makes it more difficult to speculate on what other teams may be willing to trade up or down for in a given spot.
So, with that in mind, here we go. Links to the prospect’s draft profile can be accessed by clicking on their name.
First Round, #18
Why it makes sense: offensive line is a top priority for the Vikings, and they’ve met with him twice - at the Combine and on a Top 30 visit. Ford could play either left guard or right tackle for the Vikings, depending on how they may want to shift Brian O’Neill and Riley Reiff - or not. He could also start at one of those positions this year, but play another in the future. He’s thought to be a good fit for the Vikings zone scheme as well.
Ford is also generally thought to go somewhere between the early teens to early second round. I would be very surprised if he didn’t go in the first round, and there is some chance he’s taken ahead of the Vikings at #18, but as often as not he’s available to the Vikings. I suspect more QBs will go than thought - that’s what usually happens - and that helps Ford make it to #18.
Plan B: The Vikings find Noah Fant still available, and decide to take him as their best player available. They take the OL BPA in the 3rd round instead.
Second Round, #50
Why it makes sense: Either of these two could be there at #50, both would be good additions to the Vikings defensive line. Simmons as a 3-tech or Omenihu as a base defensive end that can also move inside. The Vikings recently met with Simmons on a Top 30 visit, while they’ve met Omenihu at the Senior Bowl and Combine.
Omenihu seeems a consensus second-round pick who’s skill set is a fit more for a 4-3 front than a 3-4. Simmons is a top 5-10 talent that isn’t likely to go in the first round due to an ACL injury that could cut into his rookie season availability, and also has an off-field incident hitting a woman a couple years ago. It’s unclear at what point Simmons will get drafted, but sometime in the second- round seems very likely. If he’s there at #50, I would be surprised if the Vikings didn’t fill his name out on their card.
Third Round, #81
It would be good fortune for the Vikings to have Sternberger or Warring available here, but there seems to be a divergence in evaluations of both players, which could effect their draft stock. It’s not unrealistic that one of them would be available here. Both TEs are not finished products, and will need to improve blocking skills and route running. Sternberger has better tape, but Warring perhaps the higher ceiling.
The Vikings have been looking for a more dynamic receiving threat from the TE spot for a couple years now. Tyler Conklin is a reflection of that, as was Bucky Hodges in 2017. Kyle Rudolph is on the last year of his contract, and while I could see the Vikings extending Rudolph at the right price, they also need to look at finding his replacement.
The Vikings met recently with Warring, and also had Sternberger for a private workout and a Top 30 visit.
Fourth Round, #120
The Vikings make another move to bolster their offensive line, adding another tackle. The Vikings had a private workout with Howard, and met with him on a Top 30 visit. Howard is seen as a guy with all the uncoachable things you want, but is in need of further development of technique and functional strength.
Howard could become the swing tackle for the Vikings if they’re able to develop him, and could eventually find a place as a starter down the road.
Sixth Round, #190
The Vikings look to replace Laquon Treadwell with this pick, although he’s a much different type of receiver. First of all, he plays both tailback and wide receiver, and can move all over from the backfield, to the slot, to outside. At 6’5”, 226lbs., he’s a big body. He’s ran the 40 in 4.47” reportedly. That’s basically the same size and speed as Noah Fant, interestingly.
However, he had a knee scope procedure done in December, and didn’t run at the Combine as he was rehabbing. At his Pro Day, he ran the 40 for the first time since his knee surgery and came in at 4.66”.
The Vikings had Hurd, along with another RB/WR prospect Jeff Smith from Boston College, in for a Top 30 visit. Hurd is the bigger of the two, Smith the faster with a 4.34” 40 time and is 6’0” 190lbs. Both are intriguing match-up prospects, and look to be the type of chess piece the Vikings want to be able to move around in Gary Kubiak’s offense. Hurd shows some good cuts and awareness in the open field, and can also stretch the field as a big outside receiver with some speed.
Seventh Round, #209
The Vikings look to replace Latavius Murray with this pick, whom the Vikings have met three times during the pre-draft process - the East-West game, a private workout and a Top 30 visit. He’s the only running back the Vikings have met with.
Ozigbo didn’t do much at Nebraska until last season, which was a breakout year. He looks a little more like a Mark Ingram-style runner (even wore the same number) - a mix of some power and shiftiness with the skills to be a 3-down back in terms of receiving ability and pass protection, although some development is needed.
Seventh Round, #247
The Vikings add one more offensive linemen, this time a center/interior linemen in Gaillard.
He seems to be an underappreciated center prospect who held up well against Alabama in both the Championship game in January 2018 and the SEC Championship in December.
Gaillard is a tough linemen with some tools to work with, but has starting level ability with some development. He also has three years of starting experience at center against top SEC competition.
The Vikings met with Gaillard at the East-West game and the Combine, and he could provide some competition for Pat Elflein at center, should he continue to under-perform.
Seventh Round, #250
The Vikings met with Hanks at his Pro day and had a private workout with him. He looks to be more of a cover, WILL linebacker and special teamer who would fill a backup role. Not without potential, but unlikely to be a starter in the immediate future either.
Hanks is a converted safety that could function in a hybrid role of safety/linebacker Cam Chancellor type guy in particular sub-packages if he makes a good transition to the NFL and is able to handle that role. Overall a good skill set to have at the linebacker position, and one that is somewhat lacking in that group at the moment for the Vikings.
Overall this draft would give the Vikings:
- A starting offensive lineman, and two others to compete in that group;
- A potential starting defensive tackle or a rotational guy along the defensive line that could become an eventual starter;
- A promising tight-end that could become a more dynamic receiving threat;
- An interesting flex-position player and versatile offensive weapon that could be a RB, WR, or even a TE;
- A solid, rotational 3-down running back to complement Dalvin Cook;
- A challenge to Pat Elflein at center;
- And a decent coverage linebacker who could also be a good special teamer
That haul would go a long way toward filling the holes in the Vikings roster, and hopefully adding some quality depth that can develop into future starters as well.