Minnesota Vikings Mock Draft Roundup
The 2014 NFL draft was pushed back two weeks from its customary time slot near the end of April. It's doubtful that this delay will have much of an impact on the draft itself, but there's no arguing its impact on sports talk radio and on sports websites.
If you're an NFL draft fan, by now you've not only read the speculation of most every legitimate prognosticator, but you've probably caught yourself perusing mock drafts put out by your dentist and the kid who bags your groceries.
Until names start actually being announced by commissioner Roger Goodell, nobody really knows how things will unfold come May 8. And let's face it, while some of the guesses you read are more learned than others, the truth is best they're just educated guesses
But that doesn't stop you from reading them, does it?
Of course it doesn't and that's part of the fun of the NFL draft. The promise of a big name, the promise of better days ahead for your favorite team. It's hard to quench that thirst in NFL fans, and the run-up to the 2014 draft is one of the most intriguing in history.
It's a deep draft, but as mentioned by Rob Rang at NFLDraftScout.com, it's not a draft that has a sure thing at the most important position, quarterback. And there's a lot of quarterback-needy teams choosing at the top of the draft.
Therein lies much of the intrigue with the 2014 draft. Who's willing to take a chance on a quarterback when there are so many other good players to choose from?
While we won't find out for sure until May 8, let's take a look at a Minnesota Vikings mock draft roundup from a group of well-known draft analysts.
We'll give our thoughts on each pick as well.
Round One, Pick No. 8
Will the Vikings choose a quarterback with their first pick? Which of the top-ranked quarterbacks will still be on the board, if any? Will Minnesota wait on a quarterback and try to fill one of its holes on defense with its first pick?
Let's take a look at some expert guesses. These are the most recent mocks put out, but they will probably change over the course of the next two weeks.
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Todd McShay, ESPN: Bortles
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Rob Rang, CBS Sports.com: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Dane Brugler, NFL Draft Scout.com: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Don Banks, Sports Illustrated.com: Bridgewater
So if you needed any convincing on how tough it is to prognosticate the 2014 draft, that should do it. That's six of the most-respected names in the draft-guessing game and that's four different quarterbacks listed.
What's surprising here is that they all have Minnesota taking a quarterback in the first round. That might be the case, but it's also likely that the Vikings take a defensive player in the first round and hope to find a quarterback later on.
The most interesting scenario that could play out is if Manziel and/or Bortles are available when the Vikings pick. Will Spielman pull the trigger on another first-round quarterback who isn't a sure thing? If he passes on one of those two and both prove to be franchise-type quarterbacks, will he ever live it down?
The guess here is that Spielman ignores the quarterbacks and tries to trade down. Spielman told the Star Tribune he likes to have 10 picks in any draft, and he could move back in the first round and pick up one or two mid-round picks.
The hope is that Vikings could acquire and extra pick and still fill a hole on defense by taking either linebacker Alabama's C.J. Mosley or one of the top cornerbacks, Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert or Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State.
Round Two, Pick No. 40 Kyle Van Noy, LB, Brigham Young
Obviously trying to predict the draft of a quarterback-needy team is difficult, because much of the draft will depend on what their plans are in dealing with their quarterback problem.
If the Vikings do take a quarterback in round one, you can almost be positive that they'll go with a defensive player in the second round. If they go defense in round one, then they just might grab the best available quarterback in the second.
While most draft gurus have Minnesota taking a quarterback in the first round, we feel like that's a pretty big leap. Here are some expert guesses at to what the Vikings will do in the second round.
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Kyle Van Noy, LB, Brigham Young
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
Rob Rang, CBS Sports.com: Van Noy
Dane Brugler, NFL DraftScout.com: Davonte Adams, WR, Fresno State
Draftteck.com: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
While these are all interesting choices, don't look for any of them to happen, with the exception of Van Noy.
The Vikings have two solid starters at defensive end, and while they could always use depth there, they won't look for a depth guy at the top of the second round, so drafting Crichton is a long shot.
The same goes for Adams and Amaro—both great prospects, but the Vikings aren't going to go for depth guys this early in the draft. They'll want to get a starter in the second round, and they're set at tight end and receiver.
If Minnesota takes a quarterback in the first round, look for them to grab a linebacker here. Ohio State's Ryan Shazier would be ideal, but he'll more than likely be gone by pick No. 40. Van Noy would certainly help on the outside, but they might not take him if they feel they can get a safety or a cornerback who is a better player.
Round Three, Pick No. 72
While quarterback may certainly still be in play here, if Minnesota has already taken one, look for them to again address the defense with their first of two picks in the third round.
What can't be discounted is the likelihood that Minnesota acquires another third-round pick, which would open up the possibility of taking a guard with one of their picks.
Here are some experts picks who dare to go into the third round.
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: Telvin Smith, OLB, Florida State
Draftteck.com: Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
Draftsite.com: Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State
Walterfootball.com: They have Minnesota trading this pick in order to move up two spots in the first round in order to take Blake Bortles. They have the Oakland Raiders using this choice on LSU safety Craig Loston. Loston would also be a very good pick for the Vikings.
While it obviously becomes almost silly to try to pinpoint picks this far into the draft, you can still make reasonable assumptions on what positions a team would like to bolster.
It's doubtful Minnesota would be looking for a wideout at this juncture of the draft, but the other two choices are very reasonable.
Telvin Smith would give the Vikings the speed and oomph they lack at their weak-side linebacker spot, and Gabe Jackson could vie for Charlie Johnson's starting spot at left guard. If Minnesota hasn't taken a cornerback yet, look for Keith McGill of Utah, Pierre Desir of Lindonwood and Jaylen Watkins of Florida to all be in play here.
A long-shot pick here could be running back Tre Mason of Auburn, who would be a phenomenal backup to Adrian Peterson.
Round Three, Pick No. 96
Minnesota will obviously still be hoping to find a player good enough to start at the back end of the third round. Whom they take with pick No. 96, will depend a lot on whom they've already taken with their first three picks.
Here's some expert guesses at where the Vikings might go late in the third round.
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: Yawin Smallwood, ILB, UConn
Drafttek.com: Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
Walterfootball.com: Telvin Smith, OLB, Florida State
Draftsite.com: L'Damian Washington, WR, Missouri
As we get deeper in the draft, it becomes easier to nit-pick at these guesses.
As for Smallwood, he might have a bit more athletic ability than Audie Cole and Michael Mauti, but he doesn't necessarily have more upside than either of those two. It would be a surprise if Minnesota took a middle linebacker that wasn't clearly better than the two youngsters they have on hand.
Sutton could add depth at defensive tackle, but they may not be looking for just a reserve in the third round. Smith would be a great choice if he were to fall this far, but he might not be around at this point of the third round. Washington is an intriguing prospect as a big receiver, but again, the Vikings have a version of him already on the roster in Rodney Smith.
Again, the guess here is that Minnesota chooses a defensive back in this spot. Cornerbacks Keith McGill or Pierre Desir could still be around here, and both could challenge for a starting job.
Round Four, Pick No. 108
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: Victor Hampton, CB, South Carolina
Walterfootball.com: Dakota Dozier, G, Furman
Draftsite.com: Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford
We'll go ahead and say a flat-out "no" to Victor Hampton. At 5'9", 197 pounds, the muscular cornerback is a ferocious tackler and would definitely add a mean streak to the Vikings defense.
Having said that, he projects far too similarly to Captain Munnerlyn, the free-agent corner Minnesota signed this offseason. And while Hampton may be looking at a position switch to safety in the NFL, you'd have to think the Vikings are looking to add a safety who is better against the pass than the undersized Hampton.
Hampton also carries more than his share of baggage, getting kicked off of three different high school teams and getting arrested at least twice while in college.
Dozier would be a great addition to the Vikings offensive line and could challenge for Charlie Johnson's starting spot at left guard after dominating small-school competition at left tackle.
Fleming is a huge body at 6'5", 323 pounds who obviously has the smarts, majoring in aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford. After playing right tackle for the Cardinal, he would be another option to try at left guard.
The Vikings would be happy getting either Dozier, Fleming for Billy Turner out of North Dakota State. All three played tackle in college but project as guards in the NFL. All three of them would probably be an upgrade over Johnson.
Round Five, Pick No. 148
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: Justin Ellis, DT, Louisiana Tech
Drafttek.com: Jonathan Brown, OLB, Illinois
Walterfootball.com: Jerick McKinnon, RB, Georgia Southern
You can make a pretty good argument for all three of these guys, as they would all add depth to positions of need for Minnesota.
At 6'1", 334 pounds Ellis is the massive type of run stopper the Vikings would like to backup the newly acquired Linval Joseph.
Brown was a three-year starter at Illinois and is a sound tackler with great football instincts. A concern might be that he's slow and a little short for his position. One would think that Minnesota would be looking to add more speed at the outside linebacker position than what Brown can offer.
McKinnon is a phenomenal athlete who starred at both quarterback and running back at the FCS level. He had a brilliant game in a huge upset over Florida in 2013, in which he rushed for 125 yards on just nine carries.
McKinnon is a very strong runner with good speed and could be a very solid backup to Adrian Peterson.
Round Six, Pick No. 184
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: Jerick McKinnon, RB, Georgia Southern
Drafttek.com: Jack Tyler, ILB, Virginia Tech
Walterfootball.com: James Hurst, OT, North Carolina
Draftsite.com: Jordan Tripp, ILB, Montana
We discussed McKinnon in the previous slide, Miller obviously has him rated below where Walterfootball.com and Draftsite.com see him going.
I'm going to dismiss both Tyler and Tripp, who are both just way too much like the two middle linebackers the Vikings already have on hand in Audie Cole and Michael Mauti.
At 6'5", 296 pounds, Hurst could battle for a backup tackle spot in Minnesota. A 5-star recruit out of high school, Hurst picked North Carolina over the likes of Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Florida and Georgia. Hurst was a four-year starter for the Tar Heels, but his limited athletic ability might hinder him at the pro level.
If Oregon's mercurial running back De'Anthony Thomas is still around in the sixth round, he would be an exciting addition to an offense that already has Adrian Peterson and Cordarrelle Patterson. Thomas could be another home run threat that Norv Turner could use much like he did Darren Sproles in San Diego.
Round Seven, Pick No. 223
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: Hakeem Smith, SS, Louisville
Drafttek.com: Isaiah Johnson, SS, Georgia Tech
Draftsite.com: Austin Wentworth, OT, Fresno State
Smith was a four-year starter at Louisville who played in the shadow of All-American free safety Calvin Pryor. Although Smith was a three-time first-team All Conference player, neither his stats for his playing style jump out at you. Still, he's a smart player who could certainly battle for a roster spot.
Johnson was more highly regarded before a major knee injury at the end of his junior season. He was steady as a senior, but his stock has fallen since his surgery. If Johnson goes undrafted, he'll be one of the first free agents called by NFL clubs.
Wentworth is another college tackle who, due to his lack of speed and a squat build, projects as a guard in the NFL. He was a three-year starter at Fresno State and a two-time All-Mountain West selection. If the Vikings choose Wentworth, he'd certainly be in the mix to battle for a roster spot.