Yesterday, Ted put together his first mock draft of the year, as he was no longer able to resist the siren’s call. Since we’ve both gotten into this tradition in recent years, and I really don’t have a hell of a lot else going on today, I thought I’d take the opportunity to get the ball rolling on my end as well and put together my initial mock for our Minnesota Vikings.
As always, I’d like to thank Eric for putting together a sweet Photoshop for me to use for this year’s mocks. It’s not as iconic as the picture Ted uses for his, but I like it all the same. It’s nice to have a theme, too, so this year I’m taking the easy way out and going with song titles I can easily change.
Like we’ve done in past years, I will be utilizing the FanSpeak On the Clock Mock Draft Simulator, premium version. I may change Big Boards from draft to draft, but otherwise the options are going to be the same. The computerized teams will use random Big Boards, since no two teams are going to have the same Big Board, the difficulty will be set to Classic, and the team needs will come from FanSpeak.
For my first mock, I’m using the Big Board provided by Matt Miller of Bleacher Report. And, for my first mock, I’m just going to go ahead and see how the board falls. No trades or any other craziness. . .I’ll save that for future mocks.
I’m also going to make the assumption that the Vikings are going to retain safety Anthony Harris rather than trading him away, pushing safety a bit farther down the list of priorities.
With that, here’s the full list of picks that I’ll be making in this mock:
With that, away we go!
Round 1, Pick #22 (from Buffalo)
So we’re off and running here in the first round. The board has fallen in a pretty interesting way so far, and in a bit of a strange twist, we almost had Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah fall into our laps. He lasted all the way to #18 when the Miami Dolphins snapped him up. In future drafts, I’d probably trade up to try to get a guy of that caliber, but I said no trades and I’m sticking to that.
With that, here’s what the board looks like now:
I’m sort of surprised that the board has fallen the way it has. In this case, I understand that the Vikings might have bigger needs than the offensive line, but when a Top 10 talent falls straight into your lap, it would be silly not to take advantage.
Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
Wills has as much upside as any tackle in this year’s class. He’s already a big-time run blocker, and his pass protection will only get better with time. He was a right tackle for the Crimson Tide, but definitely has the athleticism to play left tackle in the NFL, and that’s where he’ll start for the Vikings from Day 1. This would necessitate the Vikings either moving Riley Reiff inside (likely with a restructured contract) or releasing him and taking a cap hit. A pair of bookends like Wills and Brian O’Neill would go a long way towards helping the Vikings’ offense.
Round 1, Pick #25
The next two picks saw Jordan Love and Justin Jefferson come off the board, and now we’re at a spot where need and talent on the Big Board intersect and make our choice pretty easy.
Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
With the trade of Stefon Diggs, the Vikings need a deep threat, and Higgins is the kind of player that could step in and fill that role immediately. At 6’4” and about 220 pounds, he’s got the speed and the catch radius to compete for contested catches and take the top off of a defense. He’s also a very good run blocker, which you know the Vikings look for in their receivers. He might not be Stefon Diggs immediately, but he certainly has the ability to get to that level.
Round 2, Pick #58
As we get into the second round, here’s what the board looks like when we get to #58.
Taking Blacklock with this pick is tempting, but I’m a bit hesitant to take him here because I’m not entirely sure what the Vikings are going to want to do on defense. Also, virtual Zim is getting twitchy and I know we need to address the cornerback position here.
Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State
Dantzler has decent size for a cornerback (6’2”, 185), and can be effective in whatever scheme the Vikings want to go to on defense. He has the ability to play man or zone, and though he may need some seasoning and refinement, he definitely has significant upside. His run support isn’t great at this point, but I’ve got a feeling that Mike Zimmer can help him fix that.
Round 3, Pick #89
Here’s a look at the current board:
I was really, really hoping to snag Jacob Eason out of Washington here as a developmental quarterback type, but the New Orleans Jerks took him with the pick right before this one. I will be addressing the backup QB spot eventually, but there’s nobody on the board worth taking now, as you can see.
The Vikings still need help on the offensive line, and there’s a nice value on the board here at that spot.
Lloyd Cushenberry III, C/G, Louisiana State
I debated between Cushenberry and his teammate, Damien Lewis, and though Cushenberry is listed as a center, he has experience at guard as well and could slot in there immediately. He’d be a better fit than Lewis if the Vikings are going to continue to use the zone-heavy scheme that they installed last season, as he’s a much better mover, in my opinion.
Round 3, Pick #105 (Compensatory)
At the end of the third round, here’s how things have changed:
I know that I said earlier on that safety was a lower priority, but with the way the board has fallen, this appears to be an easy choice.
Ashtyn Davis, S, California
Davis has experience lining up at both safety and corner, which gives him the sort of versatility that the Vikings’ suddenly depleted secondary can use. The Vikings have used some three-safety sets in recent years with Jayron Kearse, and while Davis doesn’t have Kearse’s size, he does have enough ability to be effective as either a safety or even a slot corner in this scheme.
Round 4, Pick #132
We’ve hit Day 3 of the draft, and here’s what our Big Board looks like as we get ready to make our fourth-round pick.
Gotta be honest. . .had I realized that Muti was still on the board I might not have gone after Cushenberry earlier on. But it’s too late to go back, so this is what we’re looking at. This doesn’t really align with the Vikings’ needs at this point, as we’ve already addressed the offensive line twice in the first three rounds and the top defensive lineman on the board, Leki Fotu, is a lot like free agent signing Michael Pierce. With that being the case, we’ll take the top guy on the board again and see what happens in the next few rounds.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Vanderbilt
Given that Dalvin Cook is in the last year of his contract and continues to deal with injury issues, running back depth is important for the Vikings, and Vaughn could step in and be part of a rotation right away. He’s got the skills to be a third down back, and is a good fit for this outside zone scheme.
Round 5, #155 (from Buffalo)
FanSpeak says that we still need to address the wide receiver position, and if you know us, you know where we’re going.
Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota
One of us! One of us! I think I’m a lot higher on Tyler Johnson than Matt Miller is, and that’s okay. People that watched the Gophers this year know what Johnson is capable of. He’s more than likely going to end up being more of a slot receiver in the NFL, but it’s not like the Vikings couldn’t use one of those, am I right?
Round 6, #201 (from Buffalo)
We’re getting towards the end of the proceedings, but we’ve still got five selections left to mine some gems. Here’s what things look like now.
The Vikings still need some depth on the edge, so let’s address that here.
Chauncey Rivers, Edge, Mississippi State
If you’ve seen “Last Chance U” on Netflix, you’ve probably seen Chauncey Rivers. Dismissed from Georgia after marijuana violations, he wound up at East Mississippi Community College and, eventually, with the Bulldogs. As far as his on-field skills, Lance Zierlein of NFL.com compares Rivers to a guy that we’re all familiar with. . .Ifeadi Odenigbo. Under the eye of Andre Patterson, perhaps Rivers could develop into that sort of player.
Round 6, #205
The only changes from the board above are that Driscoll, Calais, and Cole have been selected. I’ve given serious consideration to taking Morgan with this pick to fill the quarterback depth chart, but I think a lot of the quarterbacks I like more are going to be available in Round 7, to my surprise. So, let’s go somewhere else.
K’Von Wallace, S, Clemson
Another versatile defensive back, much like our third-round selection, Wallace could fit in as either a center-field type of safety or someone that could come down and cover the slot. The Vikings are going to need bodies in the secondary, so it wouldn’t hurt to take a flier on some guys late and see what happens. Wallace could be a contributor pretty early on, I think.
Round 7, #219 (from Miami)
I won’t put the Big Board up for this pick, because I’m going to address the quarterback position at this spot and none of the other quarterbacks are on the board yet, but this is the guy I’m going to go with.
Anthony Gordon, QB, Washington State
Quarterbacks that come out of the “Air Raid” system don’t really have the stigma that they once did, and I think Gordon really has a chance to develop into a solid NFL starter. He’s definitely got a gunslinger’s mentality, and the Vikings could use someone like that to caddy for Kirk Cousins. I just think he’s an interesting prospect and, again, the Vikings need to add something to their quarterback depth chart.
Round 7, #249 (Compensatory)
With that, here’s what the Big Board looks like as we prepare to make the final two picks.
Let’s finish this out.
John Penisini, DT, Utah
Penisini projects as a two-down nose tackle type, but has the skills to potentially develop into more. This is the spot where you would take a player that you could develop, so we’ll take Penisini here.
Round 7, #253 (Compensatory)
No significant changes to the board.
Carter Coughlin, Edge, Minnesota
If the Vikings do go to more of a 3-4 scheme, Coughlin is the kind of player that could fit in on the outside. At the very least, he’s the sort of guy that could carve out a decent career as a core special teamer.
In summary, here is the damage I managed to do in my first Mock Draft of the year.
If you want to see how the entire draft played out, you can check out the link right here.
What do you think, folks? I’ll leave the grading up to you.
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