Hey Gang, how was the socially distant weekend, with no sports on TV? I know things are boring for some, stressful in a lot of different ways for others, but at least we had one heck of an opening to free agency for the Minnesota Vik—wait.
Yeah, maybe not so much. Under Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman, the Vikings have generally addressed their biggest needs, re-signed the players that they felt were their ‘core’ guys, and when free agency was over you looked back and thought ‘you know, that was a pretty respectable job.’
This year is a little bit different, as being tight up against the salary cap has caused the Vikings to be really minor players so far. They’ve lost more guys than they’ve signed, and barring a surprising move or two, they will enter the draft with a bevy of big needs.
And this is where my mock draft comes in. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again—I pretty much hate mock drafts, but I know I’m in the minority on this one. I know most of you fine folks love them, so...here we are. If you compare my track record to everyone else’s, I’m probably the worst at figuring out who the Vikings eventually end up picking...because literally every mock draft is terrible and not even close to what actually happens, especially a seven round one. Here, let’s go back to my final mock from last year, where my mock draft pick average was the same of Senator John Blutarski’s GPA one infamous semester at historical Faber College: Zero...point...zero.
See, I told you I suck. But you want mock draft content, so By God I’m going to give you mock draft content. Notice I didn’t say ‘good’ content, just content, you sadistic animals.
To help me conduct this year’s mock draft series, once again I’m using Fanspeak. I’m a high roller, so I dropped 10 large...that’s right...10 Washingtons, to get the draft simulator with trades and everything, like always. Before we get at it, please remember:
I’m not a professional scout, coach, or GM. I am, however, a Professional Idiot.
If you EVER get to the point where you think ‘man this guy is pretty sharp about drafting and stuff’ go back and read the previous sentence. Then talk to any member of my family, immediate or extended, and they’ll set you straight. THEN go check out my final mock from last year, just so there’s no confusion.
In formulating and/or accepting trades, I’m using the new 2020 Drafttek Trade Value Chart that was developed by Rich Hill of Pats Pulpit, and one closer to the draft trade chart that teams are now reportedly using, as opposed to the Jimmie Johnson trade chart I’ve used in years past. I know most teams don’t follow it to the number, and other trades include players. Trading players in this simulation isn’t an option, and you have to have some kind of baseline, so this is mine:
With the first wave of free agency over, the Vikings biggest remaining needs are...well, take your pick at a few positions. Cornerback, where the three starters from last year are gone. You could also make a strong case for WR, as the Stefon Diggs trade left the cupboard pretty bare there after Adam Thielen. Or how about offensive line? Other than center and right tackle, there are potentially openings everywhere!
I’m going to try and pick players based on need and the athletic profile they fit for the Vikings. To do that, our old friend Arif Hasan over at The Athletic has produced invaluable metrics based on NFL Combine results, broken down by offense and defense.
I also have players I like, just because. I am a fan, after all.
So, in setting up the simulator, I used the most updated big board that Fanspeak has, and that is Scott Wright’s of Draft Countdown. The computer is using a random board, difficulty level is classic, and team needs are based on Fanspeak’s data.
Here are the picks heading in to round one. I need two pictures to fill them all:
With a ton of picks, Minnesota finds themselves in a great spot do do anything they want. They can move up to get a guy they covet if he drops, use both picks, or trade down and accumulate even more picks. As the round progressed, CB Jeff Okudah was still on the board after 14 picks, and I was really tempted to move up and get him. But, with a lot of needs, I decided that keeping both first round picks and trying to address multiple needs was the better option. This is the big board at pick 22:
The big fish on this board is QB Jordan Love. If the Vikings hadn’t extended Kirk Cousins when the new league year began, I think this would have been a no-brainer pick. Before the Combine, I had read a couple tweets and posts that Love was one of the guys the Vikings might have been interested in, and he really stood out in Indy. But, with the Cousins extension, QB is set for at least two more years, and the Vikes can wait until next year to get their true QBOTF, if they even go that route. I don’t see the Vikings going QB here as they need too much help elsewhere. So, considering my options and athletic profile, I make my pick:
Selection: Austin Jackson, OT, USC
Rationale: There has been a fair amount of discussion about moving LT Riley Reiff inside to guard, and either moving RT Brian O’Neill to LT, or drafting their LT of the future. If they decide to move Reiff inside, then the least disruption would be to keep O’Neill on the right side and draft Reiff’s replacement here or a couple picks later, as opposed to taking a guard. Jackson has really been moving up draft boards, and after Tristen Wirfs, Andrew Thomas, and Mekhi Becton (all gone), he’s the best remaining tackle on the board, and a late first/early second round projection.
At 25, the board remains essentially the same, other than WR’s Tee Higgins and Denzel Mims going off the board between our two picks. I would think that Mike Zimmer would be threatening to take hostages if Minnesota doesn’t address the cornerback position, and there’s a guy that the Vikings are probably eyeing on the board.
Selection: K’lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
Selection: That said...it’s hard to pass up a a big need like that, but man, Chaisson is a borderline top 10 talent, DE is a need with Everson Griffen gone, and with him playing linebacker at LSU, I have a feeling Zimmer and Dom Capers can’t pass up a guy like this that’s fallen into your lap. And to top it off, he’s probably the best player on the board right now.
Rationale: He’s considered by most folks the best edge rusher in the draft after Chase Young, he’s long gone by now on every mock draft I’ve looked at, so I couldn’t pass him up. For the ‘why didn’t you take a CB’ crowd: Yeah, they need them, desperately. I get it. But I can still get some good players there with three more picks in the next two rounds, which is what I hope to do.
When the second round opens, I get two offers. They are:
I’d like to move up, but without seeing how the board is falling, I want to wait to see if someone drops that I can nab. And as much as I think Rick Spielman would love four third round picks, I don’t want to lose my second round pick, as I have too many needs. So, I decline them both. My goal was to try and trade up with Indianapolis at pick 44, but I couldn’t swing a deal. So, I stayed where I am, and this is my big board:
If I go best player available, I think Malik Harrison is the guy, hands down. The OSU homer in me wants to do it, but the Vikings are pretty much set at LB unless they actually do start running a lot more 3-4 stuff with Dom Capers on the staff. Then Harrison here would actually make a lot of sense. I don’t think that they are, or at least not enough to invest in a linebacker here, so I’m going to grab a guy with a ton of upside:
Selection: Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn
Rationale: Igbinoghene is a physical, man-press CB, but has only played the position two years, so he’s still kind of raw. I think if he had more experience he’d be a first round guy, and when you watch highlights you can see he has a ton of potential. Under Mike Zimmer’s tutelage, this is a guy that can come in and contribute early.
I don’t get any offers when the third round starts, so I let the round play out. There is still a glaring need I haven’t addressed yet, and it’s about time I do. One of the weird things about this mock is I’m not sure what to make of the big board, other than I don’t really agree with it on some player rankings, as they’re way different than a couple others I used in trying to make selections. But that said, here it is:
Yeah, so here’s the thing. The Vikings need a wide receiver. Two, actually. The ones the big board is showing me really don’t match up with what several other ones are, or the Combine measurables that the Vikings historically use to select wide receivers. So, I’m going to kind of go off menu from the big board and take a guy that matches what the Vikings typically look for.
Selection: Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, That Team That Never Beats Ohio State Anymore
Peoples-Jones is ranked 130th overall by Scott Wright, but in the mid ‘80’s by a couple other big boards I checked out, and he’s considered a late third round to early fourth round prospect by most folks. Not sure what the discrepancy is, but anyway, Peoples-Jones feels like a guy that the Vikes will like. Big guy, makes a lot of contested catches, and is a good route runner. He’s not a deep threat, but he’ll go up and get the ball, and he has reliable hands...unless he’s playing the Buckeyes and then he drops them muahahahaha.
No more trade offers, so here’s the big board at pick 105:
Selection: Raekwon Davis, DT, Alabama
Rationale: I’ve read that Davis could project as either a nose tackle or a 3-technique, and either way, the Vikings need depth on the defensive line. Even though they signed Michael Pierce, and we drafted a new edge rusher earlier, I’m still not sold on the interior guys like Jalyn Holmes and Jaleel Johnson. They need competition, and Davis provides that.
I got no trade offers in the fourth round, so once again I stand pat and let the board play out. I’m pretty sure the guy I want is going to be available, and he is. Here’s the big board:
I still need receiver help, and I’m taking my guy.
Selection: Tyler Johnson, WR, Outback Bowl Champions
Rationale: I LOVE Johnson as a WR3 or WR4, with a chance to really blossom into a good player. He had a heck of a 2019 in Dinkytown, with over 1,300 yards receiving, including 204 and two touchdowns in Minnesota’s Outback Bowl win over Auburn. No idea why he’s ranked so low on this big board (187 overall), as most rankings have him in the 80’s to 90’s. I think he’ll be gone long before this, and I’d expect that if the Vikings like him, and I am told they are, he would be one of their third round picks if he’s available. And if it comes down to DJP or Johnson, in the real world I’d take Johnson first.
Two picks in this round, and unless I get any trade offers I’m just going to stay put.
I get no trade offers.
Rick Spielman will 100% not stay put. He’s probably made half a dozen trades by now and we’ve all gone insane watching the draft ticker get close to Minnesota being on the clock, only to move down nine more spots in another trade. I will not torture you like that, my friends. Big board:
Selection: Jonah Jackson, G, Ohio State
Rationale: The Vikings need help on the interior line. We think we addressed that by drafting Jackson about 1,000 words ago and kicking Riley Reiff inside to LG. And we’re also going to figure that Dru Samia will be the RG, at least for now. Assuming Reiff wins the job on the left side, Pat Elflein will need to have someone to hang out with on the bench. I thought Jackson was pretty good at Ohio State, and for a fifth round pick is a guy that can project into the lineup in 2-3 years.
Okay, sixth round criteria and later rules are now in effect: Player I really like, player from Ohio State, player with a cool-ass name, team needs. More often than not in that order.
Big board at pick 22 in this round:
Selection, pick 22: Stantley Thomas-Oliver III, CB, Florida International
Rationale: Are you kidding me? That’s a cool-ass name Yahtzee, baby! Dude is a one man Accounting Firm or Law Office. He also fits the measurables the Vikings want in a CB, and the position is a big need.
Big board doesn’t change much, so it’s time for pick 26.
Selection, pick 26: Carter Coughlin, LB, Outback Bowl Champions
Rationale: Linebacker depth is kind of an issue, and I think Coughlin can fight for a special teams role or the practice squad.
Last round, three picks left. Let’s do this. If this was Spielman’s draft, he would currently own 89% of all seventh round selections, and will be working himself into a fever dream to acquire the few remaining that he doesn’t yet own, but will. Oh yesssssssss, he will makeses the tradeses to gets us the pickses, my preciousssss.
Selection, pick 5 (219): John Runyan, G, That Team Up North
Rationale: Runyan fits Minnesota’s scouting profile, and they need interior linemen. And Elflein and Jackson can make his life miserable recounting their days back in college.
Selection, pick 35 (249): Jared Mayden, S, Alabama
Rationale: They need a safety. Roll Tide.
Selection, pick 39 (253): Nate Stanley, QB, Iowa
Rationale: He plays well, but only against teams Iowa plays I want to win, like Ohio ‘55-24’ State, or Minnesota, with a shot at the Big Ten West hanging in the balance for the Gophers. So my theory here, and it’s a good one, draft Stanley, play him against the Packers and Bears, go 4-0 because REVERSE SPORTS JINXCURSEPSYCHOLOGY. Profit. Oh, and I also draft a late round QB in all my mocks, just because.
So, here’s the 12 draft picks:
I made no trades...and I would say that with Rick Spielman at the helm, that’s not going to end up being the case. Anyway, I think we got got good players up and down the draft, managed to fill most, if not all, of the remaining needs, and I even picked a couple Michigan dudes.
Maybe the world really is getting ready to end. Let me know your thoughts below.
What grade would you give this mock draft?
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