Vikings 2013 Mock Draft: 7-Round Predictions After First Week of Free Agency
To say it's been a big week for the Minnesota Vikings would be like calling someone's wedding day an average day in their life. It just doesn't do it justice.
On March 11 the Vikings traded their up-and-coming wide receiver Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks.
The next day they released their Pro-Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield because of his $7.25-million salary, but Leslie Frazier says the Vikings still want Winfield back (so stay tuned).
On March 14 the Arizona Cardinals signed away Jasper Brinkley, Minnesota's starting middle linebacker in 2012.
After all that subtraction, the Vikings wined and dined their way to inking Greg Jennings to a five-year contract on March 16.
They have also re-signed starters safety Jamarca Sanford and Erin Henderson during free agency.
All of this activity has greatly affected how Minnesota will approach the draft.
The Harvin, Jennings and Winfield moves will generate the most media attention (as they should), but the Brinkley makes the greatest impact on the draft of the Vikings.
Their top-five needs remain similar (in no particular order): wide receiver, middle linebacker, safety, outside linebacker and cornerback.
What will they do with their draft picks as a result of one week's worth of free agency?
That's what we'll discuss here.
Minnesota has 11 picks in the draft, but I'll only assess 10 of those selections as the final draft pick coming to Minnesota as part of the Harvin deal is still to be determined. It'll either be the eighth or 14th selection in the seventh round.
Here's how I see 10 of their picks going.
First Round No. 23: Alec Ogletree, Georgia Linebacker
With Jasper Brinkley's departure to the Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota has no player ready to step in as the starting middle linebacker. And there aren't any players on the free agent market that the Vikings will pick up to start (Brian Urlacher would be, but I don't see Minnesota signing him).
That means middle linebacker is Minnesota's No. 1 priority the rest of the offseason, which includes the draft.
Alec Ogletree is a player who will be selected right around where Minnesota picks with its first first-round pick and if available at No. 23, won't slide any further.
Ogletree has good size (6'2" and 242 pounds) and plays faster than his 4.7-second 40-yard dash at the combine suggests. He played sideline to sideline with no problems while at Georgia.
He isn't the bulky, run-stuffing middle linebacker Minnesota fans are used to in recent years (Brinkley, E.J. Henderson), but he projects to be much better than either of those two.
Ogletree comes with off-field baggage (recent DUI, suspended the first four games of 2012 for substance abuse).
That should scare plenty away from Ogletree early in the first round, but given his talent Minnesota should gobble him up at No. 23.
First Round No. 25: Sylvester Williams, North Carolina Defensive Tackle
Depending on who's available, this pick could go a number of different ways.
Minnesota will consider defensive tackle, wide receiver and cornerback at this pick and middle linebacker too, if it hasn't been addressed at No. 23.
For now, I'm projecting a defensive tackle. And Sylvester Williams stands out the most.
He's the most well-rounded defensive tackle out of a group that includes Georgia's John Jenkins, Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins, and Purdue's Kawann Short and Alabama's Jesse Williams who could go in the late first or second rounds.
Williams has shown the ability to be a run stopper and a pass rusher. His numbers this past season at North Carolina mirror those of current Viking Kevin Williams during his final season at Oklahoma State.
Sylvester Williams had 42 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and six sacks this past season. Kevin Williams had 54 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and four sacks in his final season at Oklahoma State.
The two are similarly sized, too (Sylvester at 6'2" and 320 pounds and Kevin at 6'5" and 311 pounds).
Now, that far from guarantees Sylvester will develop into a Kevin Williams type. But it doesn't hurt.
Second Round No. 20 (No. 52 Overall): Terrance Williams, Baylor Wide Receiver
Wide receiver will be addressed a few times in the draft and should be addressed at least once in the first three rounds.
Terrance Williams is a player thought of as a potential late first-round pick and still could be. But most "experts" these days have him sliding into the second or third round.
Minnesota would be happy to snag him in Round 2.
Williams has good size (6'2" and 208 pounds) and likes to go deep and battle for jump balls in the end zone.
He's not the fastest by NFL combine standards (4.52-second 40-yard dash) but plays fast enough.
An NFL.com report compares him to Baltimore's Torrey Smith and lists as a negative that he is a "pure outside receiver." With Minnesota possessing slot receivers Jarius Wright and Greg Jennings, that's probably more of a plus.
He excelled this past season without Robert Griffin III (97 receptions, 1,832 yards and 12 touchdowns in 13 games).
Third Round No. 21 (No. 83 Overall): Robert Alford, Southeastern Louisiana CB
Whether Antoine Winfield returns will determine how dire a need the Vikings have at cornerback, but my gut says Winfield is gone.
Robert Alford of Southeastern Louisiana could be Minnesota's man in the third round.
Concerns about Alford (5'10" and 188 pounds) focus on the shoulder injury that cost him his 2010 season, which are more concerning given his physical style of play. Others are worried about his size making him less capable of covering the league's biggest receivers, which is less concerning for a Minnesota team with Chris Cook (6'2" and 212 pounds).
Alford ran a nice 4.39-second 40-yard dash at the combine and has a 40-inch vertical leap. He was a receiver in high school and an all-state track athlete, so he has hands and speed. Alford can also return kickoffs, which is important for Minnesota since it traded away Percy Harvin. He returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown and another 88 yards in the senior bowl.
His small-school attendance hurts his draft stock but shouldn't hurt his NFL trajectory.
Fourth Round No. 5 (No. 99 Overall): Bacarri Rambo, Georgia Safety
Just like fellow Georgia Bulldog Alec Ogletree, Bacarri Rambo comes with off-field baggage.
Like Ogletree, Rambo was suspended for the first four games of 2012 for failing a drug test. But in 10 games he recorded 73 tackles, intercepted three passes and forced three fumbles. He still made the All-SEC second team despite limited time.
He has good size (6'0" and 211 pounds) and can come up and stuff the run or sit back and read a quarterback's eyes to create an interception.
The off-field concerns are legit as he was also suspended for a game his junior year, and both suspensions were allegedly related to marijuana use.
Chad Greenway, Jared Allen and Kevin Williams are strong leaders on defense and would be good leaders for Rambo and Ogletree.
Fourth Round No. 23 (No. 117 Overall): Chris Harper, Kansas State Wide Receiver
The numbers don't stand out when assessing Chris Harper's collegiate career (58 receptions for 857 yards and three touchdowns in 2012 was his best season), but he is a converted quarterback.
Harper played three seasons at wide receiver at Kansas State, which is a run-oriented offense that limits a receiver's opportunities.
At the combine he ran a 4.55-second 40-yard dash but bested that and ran a sub-4.5 at Kansas State's pro day (some reports clocked him at 4.38 seconds).
He has good size (6'1" and 229 pounds) and knows how to use it. One report says, "Size/speed combination is impressive. Cornerbacks trying to press him at the line see his quickness and pure acceleration down the sideline."
Fifth Round No. 22 (No. 140 Overall): Gerald Hodges, Penn State OLB
Minnesota re-signed Erin Henderson this past week, which signals that he is the projected starter for 2013.
But it was a two-year deal at a modest rate, which shows Minnesota's hesitance to commit to Henderson. And the Vikings should be hesitant. Henderson's been inconsistent.
That makes outside linebacker still a concern, which is why drafting an outside linebacker around the fourth to sixth round makes sense.
Gerald Hodges was a very productive outside linebacker at Penn State. He earned second-team All Big Ten honors his junior and senior seasons. He recorded 106 and 109 tackles in those two seasons, respectively.
Hodges (6'1" and 243 pounds) is a converted safety, which helps him in pass coverage. He's very capable of sticking with tight ends or running backs in coverage.
Concerns about his bulk and physicality come up on multiple scouting reports, but many also talk about how he still has room to grow.
With Henderson slated to start, Minnesota can take a chance on a one- or two-year project.
Sixth Round No. 21 (No. 179 Overall): Hugh Thornton, Illinois Guard
The Minnesota Vikings re-structured the contract of starting left guard Charlie Johnson, and his retention on the roster suggests he's the projected starter for 2013.
Guard should be a bigger priority, but with big needs at receiver, cornerback and linebacker this position falls a bit.
Guard/tackle Geoff Schwartz left Minnesota for Kansas City, which means Minnesota could use another versatile offensive lineman.
Insert Hugh Thornton.
Thornton started at guard and tackle while at Illinois. CBS Sports says Thornton (6'3" and 320 pounds), "Displays impressive upper-body strength to ragdoll and toss defenders aside at the point of attack. Possesses lateral fluidity and agility to close off the edge, and redirects with some suddenness to thwart the quick counter move."
NFL.com cites concerns about his ability to pass protect due to poor bend at the waist and poor anchor.
Seventh Round No. 7 (No. 197 Overall): Marc Anthony, California Cornerback
Marc Anthony is a veteran cornerback with experience at a prestigious football school. He started three years at Cal and was a top-20 cornerback recruit coming out of high school.
Anthony (5'11" and 196 pounds) has the size and physical nature to play in the NFL. He relishes contact and enjoys providing a good pop.
Realistic concerns exist about his recovery speed. He ran a 4.63-second 40-yard dash at the combine, which will and should worry many teams.
But in the seventh round, his collegiate body of work makes him a good grab.
CBS Sports projects him as a sixth or seventh round pick.
Seventh Round No. 23 (No. 213 Overall): Albert Rosette, Nevada Middle Linebacker
Middle linebacker needs help. With Audie Cole and Alec Ogletree as the only two players on the roster at this point, one more would be nice.
This adds depth.
Albert Rosette isn't expected to make an NFL roster by many accounts, including CBS Sports. That same CBS Sports report says he has a chance to "if he can prove to teams that he has the athleticism to handle NFL speed."
Rosette (6'2" and 245 pounds) was a starting defensive end as a junior and moved back to middle linebacker, his natural position, as a senior where he led the team with 135 tackles. He had four tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, a sack and an interception.