Minnesota Vikings Ultimate 2014 Draft Primer

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IMay 7, 2014

Minnesota Vikings Ultimate 2014 Draft Primer

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    The next—and possibly most important—phase of the Minnesota Vikings' makeover under new head coach Mike Zimmer is undoubtedly the 2014 NFL draft.

    General manager Rick Spielman and the Vikings will enter the draft with two major but attainable goals: Find a franchise quarterback, and continue shoring up the league's worst scoring defense. With eight picks, including the No. 8 overall pick and two selections in the third round, the Vikings will attempt to cross off both on the checklist. 

    In the following slides, we'll provide a full 2014 draft primer for the Vikings, with a complete order of draft picks, positional big board and round-by-round information and analysis.  

List of 2014 Draft Picks

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    • First round, eighth overall (1.8)
    • Second round, 40th overall (2.40)
    • Third round, 72nd overall (3.72)
    • Third round, 96th overall (3.96)
    • Fourth round, 108th overall (4.108)
    • Fifth round, 148th overall (5.148)
    • Sixth round, 184th overall (6.184)
    • Seventh round, 223rd overall (7.223)

    The Vikings received the 96th overall pick (last pick in the third round) from the Seattle Seahawks as part of the Percy Harvin trade. Minnesota was not awarded a compensatory pick in 2014. 

Position-by-Position Big Board

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    Note: Position rankings are not based solely on ability. Skill sets, availability and when the team is expected to target the position also factor in. For example, the Vikings won't be selecting a left tackle in the first round, so none of the top players at the position are listed on the big board.

    Quarterback (Position need: High)

    1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
    2. Blake Bortles, UCF
    3. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
    4. Derek Carr, Fresno State
    5. Zach Mettenberger, LSU
    6. Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois

    Running Back (Moderate)

    1. Tre Mason, Auburn
    2. Devonta Freeman, Florida State
    3. Terrance West, Towson
    4. Andre Williams, Boston College
    5. Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona
    6. James White, Wisconsin 

    Receiver (Low to Moderate)

    1. Sammy Watkins, Clemson
    2. Cody Latimer, Indiana
    3. Davante Adams, Fresno State
    4. Jarvis Landry, LSU
    5. Martavis Bryant, Clemson
    6. Brandon Coleman, Rutgers 

    Tight End (Low)

    1. Troy Niklas, Notre Dame
    2. Crockett Gillmore, Colorado State
    3. Arthur Lynch, Georgia
    4. A.C. Leonard, Tennessee State 

    Offensive Line (Low)

    1. Joel Bitonio, Nevada
    2. Dakota Dozier, Furman
    3. Billy Turner, North Dakota State
    4. Charles Leno, Boise State
    5. Ryan Groy, Wisconsin 

    Defensive Line (Moderate)

    1. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
    2. Aaron Donald, Pitt
    3. Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
    4. Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota
    5. Dominique Easley, Florida
    6. Will Sutton, Arizona State
    7. George Uko, USC 

    Linebacker (High)

    1. Khalil Mack, Buffalo
    2. Anthony Barr, UCLA
    3. C.J. Mosley, Alabama
    4. Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
    5. Kyle Van Noy, BYU
    6. Chris Borland, Wisconsin
    7. Christian Jones, Florida State

    Cornerback (High)

    1. Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
    2. Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
    3. Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
    4. Bradley Roby, Ohio State
    5. Phillip Gaines, Rice
    6. Pierre Desir, Lindenwood

    Safety (Moderately High)

    1. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
    2. Calvin Pryor, Louisville
    3. Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois
    4. Deone Bucannon, Washington State
    5. Terrence Brooks, Florida State

First Round, 8th Overall

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    Team Needs: QB, CB, LB, S

    Two options seem the most likely for the Vikings at No. 8 overall. Either the team is in love with a quarterback and takes him to be the next franchise leader, or Zimmer gets another weapon with the best defensive player left on the board. 

    Both are attractive strategies.

    The offense needs a future at quarterback, the most vital position in the game. If new offensive coordinator Norv Turner feels there's a player—such as Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel, for example—who can step in and run his offense at a high level, the Vikings have a no-brainer decision in the first round. Take the quarterback. 

    If not, go defense. Shore up the team's biggest weakness. 

    Waiting on a quarterback can be risky, but there's just as much danger in overdrafting the position (see: Christian Ponder). So if Turner doesn't love any of the first-round quarterbacks, Rick Spielman can refuse a reach and instead pluck the top defender left on his big board. In a best-case scenario, Khalil Mack falls to No. 8. He's a game-changer at outside linebacker; a dynamic player who could give the Vikings a devastating pass rush. 

    But there are a number of impact defensive players the Vikings will likely have a chance at acquiring in the first round, such as Aaron Donald (the next Geno Atkins?), Anthony Barr, C.J. Mosley, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Justin Gilbert.  

    In the end, how the Vikings rate the top quarterbacks will determine the beginning of their draft. Minnesota will either invest another first-round pick on the position or continue the rebuild on defense. 

Second Round, 40th Overall

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    Team Needs: QB, LB, S, CB, WR

    Similar options exists for the Vikings in the second round, albeit the eventual pick is dependent on what happens in the first. 

    If the Vikings skip a quarterback and take a defender at No. 8, the second round becomes the most likely position for Minnesota to address the position. A few names make the most sense. 

    LSU's Zach Mettenberger is a natural fit for Norv Turner's vertical-based offense. With a big arm and experience in an NFL system, his skill set should transfer over seamlessly for Turner and the Vikings. A year sitting behind Matt Cassel and Mettenberger could take over in 2015.

    Rick Spielman could also get aggressive and trade back into the first round if either Teddy Bridgewater or Derek Carr fall down the board. Both are franchise-caliber players at quarterback and worth moving up for if the value is there. 

    The accurate but little-tested Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois is another quarterback worth considering in the second round. 

    Again, everything depends on Minnesota's first pick. If the quarterback need is satisfied in the first round, the Vikings could opt for a defensive player such as BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy or a defensive back at No. 40 overall. Either way, a combination of quarterback and defensive player is Minnesota's most likely course of action through the first two rounds. 

Third Round, 72nd and 96th Overall

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    Team Needs: LB, S, CB, RB, WR

    Two picks in the third round gives the Vikings ammunition to address any remaining primary needs. 

    Desiring a cornerback? The Vikings could find answers in Lindenwood's Pierre Desir, Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Clemson's Bashaud Breeland or Florida's Jaylen Watkins. 

    Is linebacker on your wish list? The third round may have potential options in Wisconsin's Chris Borland, Florida State's Christian Jones, Montana's Jordan Tripp or Stanford's Shayne Skov. 

    Need another safety? Depending on how the board shakes out, the Vikings could have a picking from the likes of LSU's Craig Loston, Florida State's Terrence Brooks or USC's Dion Bailey. 

    But while it is tempting to keep the focus on defense, the Vikings may also decide to address a skill position at some point in the middle rounds.

    There's a need behind Adrian Peterson at running back, and long-term depth at receiver is shaky. A run of backs could start in the third, while there's a very good possibility of Minnesota finding an impact receiver within the first 100 picks. Tre Mason is one fit at running back. Davante Adams has vertical appeal as a receiver in Norv Turner's offense. 

Fourth Round, 108th Overall

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    Team Needs: WR, RB, OL, DL

    Running back wouldn't seem to be a need with Adrian Peterson anchoring the Vikings backfield, but the game's best running back is now 29 years old. Factor in that Toby Gerhart (who is now in Jacksonville) averaged 88 touches over his four seasons behind Peterson, and you get a position the Vikings may target earlier than some expect. 

    Gerhart was a second-round pick back in 2010. 

    The fourth round could be an ideal spot for the Vikings to find Peterson's next backup four years later. 

    Devonta Freeman is a compact back with skills as a receiver and pass-blocker, Terrance West was a productive FCS rusher and Ka'Deem Carey is a complete back who ran a slow time at the combine. Charles Sims might be the best fit for Minnesota's evolving offense. 

    If running back isn't the pick, the Vikings have options at cornerback (Loucheiz Purifoy), safety (Brock Vereen), linebacker (Jordan Zumwalt) or defensive line (James Gayle). And it stands to reason that a strong option at receiver will still remain, even at the 108th pick. 

Fifth Round, 148th Overall

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    Team Needs: DL, OL

    At some point, the Vikings will address both sides of the line.

    Minnesota has an above-average starting offensive line with two bookend tackles and a Pro Bowl quality center. Yet left guard Charlie Johnson and right guard Brandon Fusco aren't proven commodities or irreplaceable parts, meaning the Vikings could use at least one pick on the interior of the line. 

    Guards Trai Turner and David Yankey are each second-day options, although both may be gone by the fifth round. Other options include Charles Leno, Jon Halapio and Brandon Linder. 

    The defensive line is almost certain to add a player or two through the draft. Mike Zimmer has historically built his defenses from the front back with run-stopping ends and disruptive interior tackles. The starting four appears set with Everson Griffen, Sharrif Floyd, Linval Joseph and Brian Robison, but Zimmer can never get enough good players along the line. 

    If the Vikings don't scoop one up early, a tackle such as USC's George Uko or an end like Cal's Deandre Coleman make a lot of sense in the fifth round. Uko is an athletic, knifing interior lineman, while Coleman has similar dimensions as former Cincinnati Bengals end Michael Johnson. 

Sixth Round, 184th Overall

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    Team Needs: DEF, Skill position

    Adding moldable depth on defense should be a priority for the Vikings later on in the draft, especially if Rick Spielman finds it necessary to take a quarterback, receiver or running back during earlier rounds. 

    Of course, finding game-changing talent in the sixth round is a difficult task. 

    Attractive yet flawed possibilities on defense include linebackers Khairi Fortt and Lamin Barrow, defensive tackles Khyri Thornton and Jay Bromley, safeties Tre Boston and Ahmad Dixon and cornerback Dontae Johnson. 

    On offense, a sleeper pick for the Vikings might be tackle Seantrel Henderson. He's from Minnesota, and he features a physical skill set that oozes potential. Maybe he just needs to come home for the consistent talent to finally emerge. 

Seventh Round, 223rd Overall

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    Team Needs: Any 

    A team coming off a five-win season—and one with a new head coach in place—simply needs to find contributing talent in the later rounds. Zimmer's first season will include not only a shift in leadership but also a shift in what kind of players the Vikings now want filling out the roster. 

    While Zimmer doesn't call the shots, he's helped set a template for his type of player—one that will likely differ from Leslie Frazier's. 

    Of course, finding talent in the seventh round is still the ultimate crapshoot. It's more of a gamble-and-hope type of process than what takes place in the earlier rounds. 

    The Vikings should be able to go a number of ways without need altering the choice. A high-upside player such as guard Ryan Groy, running back Marion Grice, receivers Shaq Evans or Jeremy Gallon or cornerback Bennett Jackson all make sense. 

Latest Draft Buzz

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    The latest draft buzzing surrounding the Vikings:

    • Might the Vikings be making a play for St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford? Jason La Canfora told CBS Sports 920's the Morning After Show discussions between Minnesota and St. Louis over the former No. 1 overall pick have happened. It's a questionable rumor, but a rumor nonetheless. Dealing a high pick for an expensive quarterback coming off ACL surgery simply doesn't seem smart. But if Norv Turner likes Bradford in his offense and the Vikings can get an attractive deal, it's not the worst idea in the world. Minnesota needs an answer at the game's most vital position, regardless of how the club gets it. 
    • Expect the Vikings to find Adrian Peterson's next backup in this draft. General manager Rick Spielman hinted to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that a running back is in play for the Vikings. Peterson is 29 and about to enter a high-volume offense fixated around the running back position. He needs a reliable backup option to keep him fresh. Minnesota could easily take a back with receiving chops to play second fiddle. 
    • Teams that need quarterbacks usually take one in the first round, and usually early on. The Vikings pick at No. 8 overall. While easy to project Minnesota taking a quarterback, Peter King of Sports Illustrated has maintained that the Vikings are looking at other positions in the first round. The team could then look for quarterbacks later on, such as Zach Mettenberger in the second. It's a potentially risky strategy at such an important position. 

Official Player Visits

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    The following players have made pre-draft visits with the Vikings, per Rotoworld:

    • QB Blake Bortles, UCF
    • QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
    • QB Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois
    • QB Derek Carr, Fresno State
    • QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
    • QB Zach Mettenberger, LSU
    • QB Keith Wenning, Ball State
    • RB Antonio Andrews, Western Kentucky
    • RB Devonta Freeman, Florida State
    • RB Terrance West, Towson
    • OL Luke Bowanko, Virginia
    • OT Bill Turner, North Dakota State
    • DL Kareem Martin, UNC
    • LB Anthony Barr, UCLA
    • LB Lamin Barrow, LSU
    • LB Preston Brown, Louisville
    • DE Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State
    • LB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
    • S Deone Bucannon, Washington State
    • S Brock Vereen, Minnesota