Shoutout to Blackpool Niner for Mock Draft GM'ing the Vikings for 3 years running -Rob
Greetings DN! For the third year running, I took control of your Minnesota Vikings in the Niners Nation Community Mock Draft. I see a hell of a lot of mock draft fanposts here, which says one of two things:-
A) There are too many of them.
B) People like them. Let's make more of them.
I'm going with option B. You can see my previous efforts here:-
2018 - when I took a C/G who has struggled but also a pretty great RB
2019 - when I took my OL draft crush and defiantly yelled "to hell with scheme"
If you checked those and you're still reading, thanks! It's a great exercise and with actual humans (I think?) making every pick, you don't get any of the crazy falls that happen in Fanspeak and The Draft Network mocks - Alex Taylor in the 7th, Cesar Ruiz in the 4th etc. The only thing that makes it less realistic (but infinitely more manageable) is that no trades are allowed.
Before I get to the picks, a quick outline of my pre-draft thoughts and plans. You have way too many needs to fill in this draft. I'm not gonna get the needed starters at OT, OG, S, CB, WR and 3T. Not happening. I'm going to try harder than in previous years to get the best players I can, with team needs a secondary (though still important) consideration.
To those picks!
(Note: Bear in mind all pick rationales were written for a 49ers fan audience. There may be references in there that don't make sense and statements that are obvious to a Vikes fan!)
1.22. Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
The Vikings have so far had...an offseason. They've extended their QB for two more years in a win-now type move before seeing large parts of their roster completely butchered.
Their CB room in particular has been decimated with Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander leaving in free agency and Xavier Rhodes cut. Fulton is simply BPA with Pro Bowl potential at a position of real need. He can be a productive starter at a crucial position in year one, having held his own against many of the top college receivers.
Also considered: Not really anyone.
Would have considered but went before pick: Lots of the top guys who won't fall to 22!
1.25. Josh Jones, OT, Houston
The Vikings' O-line has not been good for some time and I strongly considered Cesar Ruiz here. They do have a left tackle in Riley Reiff who has been...serviceable? I see a chance to upgrade an important position long-term, with enough draft picks to fix arguably more pressing needs later.
Jones isn't the finished article but I love his upside and his athleticism for outside-zone runs. This pick gives us options. If he impresses in camp, he can start and we can cut the expensive Reiff or kick him inside to guard (though I'm not personally a big proponent of the bad tackle = guard theory). Alternatively, we can roll with Reiff at LT, let Jones develop and pull a left guard from somewhere [BN's note: welp]. I'll see what I can do...
Also considered: IOL Cesar Ruiz. WRs Denzel Mims, Tee Higgins, Jalen Reagor.
Would have considered but went before pick: As per previous pick.
2.58. Michael Pittman, WR, USC
The temptation to take Ashtyn Davis here was strong. But the board is running out of receivers who can contribute anytime soon.
Pittman is not a Diggs replacement [BN's note: this pick was also made before the Tajae Sharpe signing]. He's more like what they hoped Laquon Treadwell would be. He lines up outside, allowing Thielen to do his thing from the slot. He's 6'4" 220lbs and plays like it, yet he moves well (4.5 40, sub-7 3-cone). He can sharpen up his routes but the athleticism is there to do so. Plus, he catches the ball - few if any in the class have surer hands.
It's about the earliest I'd take Pittman, but he won't be around at #89 as the receivers fly off the board.
Also considered: S Ashtyn Davis. IDL Neville Gallimore. IOL Jonah Jackson.
Would have considered but went before pick: ALL the WRs including Jalen Reagor (went at #28), Tee Higgins (#30), Laviska Shenault (#40), Denzel Mims (#41), Brandon Aiyuk (#50). IOL Lloyd Cushenberry (#43), Matt Hennessy (#49). S Antoine Winfield (#53).
3.89. Raekwon Davis, IDL, Alabama
As good as the Minnesota defense has been in recent years, it has lacked an explosive, pass-rushing 3-tech. BPA meets need with Davis (and indeed Marlon Davidson) still on the board at #89.
Davis is long, powerful and disruptive. His Bama film shows a lot of double-teams and some 2-gapping and stunts. I mostly want him attacking B-gap and getting after QBs as he did earlier in his career. He plays the run well and as a rusher it's all there, just not quite as consistently as you'd like. Mike Zimmer and his staff will get it out of him. He'll rotate in early and has the physical traits and pass-rushing upside to be a steal late in the 3rd.
Also considered: IDL Marlon Davidson. IOL Ben Bartch.
Would have considered but went before pick: S Jeremy Chinn (#65), Kyle Dugger (#70), Terrell Burgess (#81). IOL Jonah Jackson (#67), Netane Muti (#68).
3.105. Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
After watching all the half-decent O-linemen and safeties disappear before my eyes, I would have looked to trade out here if possible with a team looking to get Jake Fromm, who has fallen 'til the end of the 3rd. Without that option, why not just take the QB?
Fromm has it all between the ears and caught top ten hype this time last year, but an apparent lack of athleticism and arm strength has knocked him down boards. He can still be a valuable (albeit low-end) starting QB. Vikings just extended Kirk Cousins to mixed fan reactions. Fromm can push him and if Kirk goes down, the offense might not miss a beat. Could I have used this pick more wisely? Maybe. But Fromm is probably BPA on a board now lacking impact talent approaching Day 3.
Also considered: S Julian Blackmon.
Would have considered but went before pick: ALL the IOL including Bartch (#92), Nick Harris (#95), Hakeem Adeniji (#101), Saahdiq Charles (#104). QB Jalen Hurts (#102).
4.132. Khalid Kareem, EDGE, Notre Dame
Kareem sets a really nice edge against the run and packs a punch in his hands. His arms go on forever and he knows how to use them. Developing a few more rush moves will be important but has the frame to add a little muscle and rush from inside and out for a team that has moulded some fine pass rushers out of similar prospects in recent years.
Also considered: None.
Would have considered but went before pick: S Blackmon (#115), K'Von Wallace (#125). WR Devin Duvernay (#116).
5.155. Jack Driscoll, OG, Auburn
Driscoll has played a ton of college football, mostly at tackle - two years at UMass before stepping up seamlessly to the SEC for two more years with Auburn. He'll take his well-honed pass-blocking skills to a guard or center position in the NFL and while he won't start out of the gate, he has some nice tools to work with, including the athleticism to play guard in the Vikings' outside zone run scheme.
Also considered: WR Lynn Bowden. S Shyheim Carter, Tanner Muse. LB Justin Strnad.
Would have considered but went before pick: None.
6.201. Isaiah Coulter, WR, Rhode Island
Vikings have a need for speed on offense and Coulter has 4.4 speed, combined with solid size at 6'2". He's not the crispest route-runner but he can separate with speed and flashes some nice releases. Gil Brandt says he can be this year's DK Metcalf, for what that's worth. I'll take my chances in the 6th round.
Also considered: LB Justin Strnad. S Myles Dorn. TE Albert Okwuegbunam.
Would have considered but went before pick: WR Bowden (#158), John Hightower (#165). S Alohi Gilman (#166), Muse (#176). OL Justin Herron (#168), Jon Runyan (#180). CB Reggie Robinson (#174).
6.205. Myles Dorn, S, North Carolina
Vikes only have Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris (assuming they don't trade him) in their safety room so I'll add a versatile backup option. Dorn's not overly fast, but has good coverage instincts and gets the job done as a tackler. He can help on special teams right away.
Also considered: LB Justin Strnad. TE Albert Okwuegbunam.
Would have considered but went before pick: None.
7.219. L'Jarius Sneed, DB, Louisiana Tech
Plus athlete (4.3 40) who has played corner and safety. Vikings need more secondary depth and Sneed has length, some decent ball skills and enough speed to take it to the house when he gets his hands on the ball. Another possible special teams demon.
Also considered: LB Justin Strnad. CB Lavert Hill. RB Joshua Kelley, Lamical Perine.
Would have considered but went before pick: TE Albert Okwuegbunam (#214).
7.249. Justin Strnad, LB, Wake Forest
I'm really surprised this guy's fallen - I've considered him every pick since round 5. A popular move is to draft good athletic testers this late but Strnad actually had a fairly disappointing combine. The film however shows a long, rangy ex-safety with really nice gap-shooting and coverage skills. He has a good chance to make the roster and contribute this year.
Also considered: See next pick.
Would have considered but went before pick: CB Hill (#220). RB Kelley (#234), Perine (#237).
7.253. Josiah Deguara, TE, Cincinnati
Again, BPA. While TE isn't a huge need, the Vikings just cut David Morgan who leaves behind a lot of blocking assignments. Deguara is a solid in-line blocker despite being short for a tight end. Plus, he lines up out wide and at H-back. Good athlete, good hands, good player.
Also considered: CB Stantley Thomas-Oliver III.
Would have considered but went before pick: None.
UDFA targets: RB LeVante Bellamy, Reggie Corbin. WR James Proche. IDL Carlos Davis, Robert Windsor. EDGE Trevon Hill, Tipa Galeai. LB Mykal Walker. CB Nevelle Clarke, Luq Barcoo.
First, I'm sorry I didn't get you a starting guard. There are only a handful in the draft IMO. They just didn't fall and I prioritised finally fixing LT in the 1st. When I took Raekwon Davis at #89, I needed for just one of Ben Bartch, Hakeem Adeniji, Nick Harris and Saahdiq Charles to fall 16 more slots to my pick at #105 but my last hope Charles went at #104. Turns out drafting is hard. All is not lost though. Adequate ZBS guards can really be found anywhere (see Josh Kline for you, Fusco, Tomlinson and Person in SF etc.) as long as the other pieces on your line are good. I do wish I'd taken Bartch or Adeniji when I had the chance, but Raekwon Davis was clear BPA for me.
The other positions that didn't quite fall the way I hoped were safety and receiver. Looks like we're hanging onto Harris (which IMO you should anyway). As I said in the blurb, late second is the earliest I'd consider Pittman and better players always fell to me in computerised mocks. But 49ers fans are hungry for receivers this year, so I should have gauged that better. I do like Coulter in the 6th to stretch the field.
So what went well? I think I got great value in Fulton, Davis, Coulter and Strnad, while taking Kareem and Driscoll in nice spots. You now have starting CBs Fulton and Hughes, with decent depth and hopefully a FA vet to come. Strnad can replace Kentrell Brothers while your D-line has been bolstered with guys who can contribute in year 1.
This leaves Jake Fromm. I realise I'll get bashed by some for this pick. I saw the value above all else with this one. Teams need QBs all the time. Yours isn't a long-term answer himself. At some point I think this will prove a nice pick. But it is a risk considering it ended up stopping me from adequately addressing the safety position. If I could do it again, I'd probably reach ever so slightly for Blackmon and take a later QB - Anthony Gordon in the 5th or even James Morgan in the 7th.
Anyway, how did I do? Hopefully I'll get to do this again next year but the guy who runs it lives in Minnesota and I had to persuade him to let me be the Vikings this year. That and the small matter of the pandemic! Hope you're all staying safe reading tedious mock drafts like this one. Vote below and please do comment.