Vikings Mock Draft: Post-Free Agency Predictions for Every Round
The dominos fell fast and furiously for the Vikings, first with the huge trade that sent Percy Harvin to Seattle and gained the Vikings another first-round pick in the 2013 draft. The Vikings then went out and filled their biggest need by signing Greg Jennings to be their No. 1 receiver. Adding Matt Cassel to back up Christian Ponder was another nice move by general manager Rick Spielman.
Now all eyes turn to the draft, where Minnesota now has two first-round picks and nine other selections over the three days. The Vikings will more than likely bundle up at least a couple of those picks to move themselves up or down in the draft depending on who they've targeted and how the draft plays out.
Coming off a surprising 10-6 season with a playoff appearance, the Vikings are still a team with some glaring holes that need to be addressed early in the 2013 draft.
What Spielman and the Vikings personnel department have going in their favor is that this is a fairly deep draft in the positions that they covet, most notably at receiver, interior defense and at linebacker.
Here we give you a look at who the Vikings might take in every round, with options depending on who else is taken and when.
All combine stats via NFL.com.
1st Round, Pick No. 23: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
There are a ton of different factors that will determine who the Vikings grab with their first pick. By the time draft night rolls around, Minnesota will probably have gone through dozens of scenarios depending on who falls off the board before they pick at No. 23.
Assuming that the top-rated wideouts Tavon Austin and Cordarelle Patterson will be gone by this pick, the Vikings will have to make a decision on who they want to pair up with Greg Jennings.
Most mock drafts have the Vikings taking Keenan Allen from California with one of their first-round picks. Although that would be just fine, the guess here is that Minnesota might roll the dice a bit and take a player with a bit more upside than Allen: Justin Hunter out of Tennessee.
Allen appears to be a bit more polished and "pro ready" than Hunter, but everything Allen does well adds up to another version of Greg Jennings. So who wouldn't want another Greg Jennings?
At 6'4", 200 pounds with a long frame that will fill out, Hunter is the far more tantalizing pick than Allen.
And although Hunter has a few more question marks than Allen, he's far from being a project, putting up big numbers at Tennessee last season while having to share the work load with Patterson. Hunter was great at the combine, running a 4.4 40-yard dash and recording the best vertical and broad jumps of all receivers.
Keenan Allen should be a very good player in the NFL. Justin Hunter has a chance to be a superstar.
1st Round, Pick No. 25: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
Why not one more year with a Williams wall?
The Vikings have gone two seasons with spotty play at the defensive tackle spot opposite Kevin Williams and would love to find a player who can be a space-eater and run-stopper in the middle, like Pat Williams when he and Kevin formed the prodigious "Williams Wall."
Sylvester Williams is a massive 6'3", 315-pound athletic force that could step right into the Vikings starting lineup and make life easier for everyone on his side of the ball.
Williams has a great backstory, working in a factory and seemingly done with football before giving it another go at a junior college and then ending up as a star player at North Carolina. Williams is a mature kid who's worked his butt off to get where he is and has the kind of character that Vikings GM Rick Spielman loves.
With Kevin Williams nearing the end of his fantastic career and Letroy Guion being a below-average performer at the other tackle, Williams would be a terrific addition to the Vikings interior defense.
2nd Round, Pick No. 52: Kevin Minter, MLB, LSU
The Vikings may have to trade up a bit to make sure they get their man to fill their hole at middle linebacker, but they have plenty of picks to package together to make a move that would accomplish that.
The Vikings need a starter at middle linebacker. They'd be getting one in Kevin Minter, the tackling machine out of LSU.
Not as heralded as fellow linebacker Manti Te'o, Minter is every bit the prospect. The only red flag on Minter's bio is his height, at just under 6'0". Minter has everything else in spades: a sturdy, strong frame (weighing a solid 246 pounds), speed and great football instincts.
The captain and unquestioned leader of a star-studded LSU defense, he was voted team MVP after a stellar junior season saw him record 130 total tackles.
Minter brings everything to the table the Vikings are looking for. He's a high-character, team-first guy with a physical edge to his game.
Minter could start from Day 1 and be a huge upgrade at middle linebacker for the Vikings.
3rd Round, Pick No. 83: Da'Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee Tech
Let's just be honest here: The Minnesota Vikings have a pretty good history of drafting wide receivers with a lot of red flags.
Da'Rick Rogers isn't nearly as high-profile as either Randy Moss or Percy Harvin, but the Vikings would be ecstatic if they could land him in the third round in the 2013 draft.
Rogers had all sorts of problems while at Tennessee during his first two years of college and was finally booted from the team before his junior season. He played last year at Tennessee Tech and dominated at the lower level.
Rogers is 6'2", 218 pounds and was excellent at the combine, running and jumping very well and most importantly for him, owning up to all of his past transgressions and offering no excuses, according to CBS Sports.
Rogers is a phenomenal athlete and it's no secret around the NFL that, although a bit raw, he might be the most talented wide receiver in this year's draft class.
Rogers would be a steal in the third round.
4th Round, Pick No. 99: Will Davis, CB, Utah State
The Vikings will be looking to add some depth to their stable of cornerbacks, especially if they are unable to bring back free agent Antoine Winfield, who remains unsigned.
Without Winfield the Vikings become very young at the corners, with Chris Cook, A.J. Jefferson and Josh Robinson being the top three players at the position. Robinson showed flashes of being able to step up as a starter. If he progresses as the Vikings hope in the offseason, he'll get the first shot to start alongside Cook.
Will Davis is an interesting prospect out of Utah State. At 5'11" and 190 pounds, he's fast and fared well in press coverage in college. He had five picks as a senior and was usually left alone to cover the other team's best receiver. Though not as highly touted as his former teammate Bobby Wagner, many see Davis as a starter at the next level.
If the Vikings select their need positions with their first four selections, they'll be able to pick the best available players in the later rounds of the draft. Davis would certainly be a nice addition to the secondary.
4th Round, Pick No. 117: Kiko Alonso, Oregon
The Vikings need more playmakers at linebacker. They'd certainly be getting one in Kiko Alonso, the 6'4", 240-pounder out of Oregon.
Alonso is an intriguing mix of size and athletic ability—and he certainly has that "crazy edge" you look for in linebackers. Along with that edge come some red flags. Alonso played through a wrist injury last season that kept him from playing in the Senior Bowl or working out at the combine.
On the positive side, Alonso is a big-time performer who shines when the lights are brightest. He was the MVP of the 2012 Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin, recording 1.5 sacks and intercepting Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson.
Though not as steady of a player as Minter, Alonso is every bit the hitter and impact player. If the Vikings could add these two, they would be significantly upgraded at linebacker.
5th Round, Pick No. 148: Alvin Bailey, OG, Arkansas
The Vikings would love to add another Razorback to their roster if guard Alvin Bailey is still around in the fifth round.
It surprised most when Bailey gave up his senior season to enter the NFL draft after playing just three years at Arkansas. Most lineman need all the seasoning they can get in college, and coming out early might drop Bailey as far as the fifth round.
At 6'3" and 312 pounds, Bailey is a very good athlete and started every game in his career at Arkansas. He played snaps at both guard positions and has the versatility that the Vikings seem to covet in their offensive linemen.
Bailey is a much better run-blocker than a pass protecter at this point, but he shows potential to be a very good starting NFL lineman.
6th Round, Pick No. 179: Aaron Mellette, WR, Elon
It's been written ad nauseam how desperate the Vikings are for a talent infusion at wide receiver. With a couple of talented wideouts already picked, why not take a shot on a guy with a ton of potential?
Aaron Mellette played at Elon University, so his learning curve will be steeper than most, but at 6'3" and 220 pounds with decent speed, he is dripping with potential. He'll certainly have to learn how to get open against the best athletes in the world, but he's proved he can catch the ball when it's thrown his way.
Mellette ended his college career with 304 receptions for 4,264 yards and 44 touchdowns. Certainly he'll have to make adjustments at the next level, but the truth is, nobody knows how he'll compete until given the opportunity.
For a team as desperate for receiver help as the Vikings, he's certainly worth a sixth-round pick.
7th Round, Pick No. 213: Cory Grissom, DT, South Florida
At 6'2" and 302 pounds, Cory Grissom is a very athletic big man that could add depth to the Vikings interior defense.
Grissom ran a 4.8 40-yard dash time and did 24 reps in the bench press at the South Florida pro day, pretty much ensuring that he'll here his name called at some point in the draft.
It would be surprising if the Vikings kept all of their picks in this year's draft and it's very nice for them to have the flexibility of three seventh-round picks that they can use as trade bait if they're tempted to move up to get one of the players they like.
Grissom will have to put on some weight at the next level, but he had a very productive college career and has a shot at sticking in the NFL.
7th Round, Pick No. 229: Ray Graham, RB, Pittsburgh
Every year the NFL is becoming more populated with smaller backs that can have big impacts as third-down and specialty situation guys. From Jacquizz Rodgers to LaMichael James, teams are seeing the benefit of having small speedsters who can impact the game.
The Vikings obviously don't need a lot of help at running back, but as we all know, injuries are a part of the NFL and if you're hit with one, you better have some useful backups. (See: Webb, Joe.)
Toby Gerhart is almost certainly entering his final season with the Vikings . He'll be looking for an opportunity to get more carries somewhere else when his contract with Minnesota expires after next season.
Ray Graham and Kenjon Barner are the two most intriguing small backs in this year's draft, and although Barner will probably be gone at this point in the draft, Graham might still be waiting to hear his name called.
Graham's stock will be hurt by his lack of breakaway speed, but there's nobody quicker in the draft. Graham is a water bug who makes people miss. He has a great sense for the game and plays a lot faster than he is. Graham will be a great candidate for a return specialist for whoever takes him.
7th Round, Pick No. 231: Michael Mauti, LB, Penn State
It's very doubtful the Vikings will end up using all 11 of the picks they have in 2013 draft, but if they do, they'll certainly have the luxury of taking some chances in the later rounds.
Linebacker Michael Mauti from Penn State is a guy who certainly deserves a chance. Once gauged to be as high as a second-round pick, injuries have hampered Mauti throughout his career. He was unable to work out at the combine as he heals up from another knee injury.
When healthy, Mauti is just a fantastic football player. He's a typical Penn State linebacker, smart, tough and solid. The Vikings need help at linebacker, and if Mauti can regain his health, he can play at a high level in the NFL.