Minnesota Vikings: 3 Picks for the Vikings at Each Position of Need
The Vikings have plenty of options with their first pick, with no obvious positional need overwhelming the drafting process. And like a Rubik's Cube, each pick Minnesota makes will have an impact how it proceeds for the rest of the draft.
Will the Vikings go defense in the first round? A stud cornerback to line up across from Xavier Rhodes would be nice to have. How about another speed-rusher?
Might they go offense with their first pick? They need to find a starting left guard. They could also use an explosive wideout to maximize second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater's options.
And the list of "what are they going to do?" might be topped off by what happens with star running back Adrian Peterson. If he returns, the Vikings will have plenty of good options at the skill positions on offense. If Peterson is traded in a deal leading up to or during the draft, then adding another running back in the early part of the draft may become a priority.
It's good to have options, and the Vikings have plenty of them heading toward the draft. With so many different directions available for Minnesota's draft, we're going to take a look at three different options for the Vikings at each of their positions of need.
As to which path they'll choose? We won't know until draft day.
We'll start at cornerback, as it seems that Michigan State's Trae Waynes has become the leader in the clubhouse among mock drafts for the Vikings in the first round.
What makes the Vikings' first-round pick so interesting is that there really is no correct answer when trying to decide who might be the best pick. A shutdown corner, a game-breaking receiver or a dominant offensive lineman? They'd take any of them and be happy.
First Round: Trae Waynes, Michigan State
Waynes is close to being the consensus pick as the top cornerback in the 2015 draft, and it would be a surprise if he wasn't available when Minnesota picks at No. 11.
Waynes only enhanced his stock with a great performance at the NFL combine, running a blistering 4.31 40-yard dash.
At 6'0", 186 pounds, Waynes has the good "length" that NFL teams covet on their corners. He was asked to play on an island often for the Spartans, and it helped develop him into an exceptional cover man.
Waynes is both tough and instinctive and excels in downfield coverage. Lining him up opposite of Xavier Rhodes would give the Vikings an exciting pair of young cornerbacks.
Second Round: Ronald Darby, Florida State
Well, why not add another Seminole opposite of Rhodes? Darby and his college teammate P.J. Williams are both top-ranked corners in the draft, with Darby perhaps moving a bit ahead after Williams' arrest last week.
Like Waynes, Darby would bring world-class speed to the Vikings secondary. The 5'11", 193-pound Darby ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at the combine and was a state-champion sprinter in high school.
Darby has great football instincts, and most college quarterbacks stayed away from throwing in his direction. There's little concern about Darby's ability to play the pass in the NFL, but questions abound about his toughness against the run.
His speed and ability against the pass would make him a great fit in Minnesota.
Third Round: D'Joun Smith, Florida Atlantic
Smith is a 5'10", 187-pound firecracker who plays football with a big chip on his shoulder. He might be the best option of the three against the run, but he lacks the top-end speed and coverage ability that Waynes and Darby bring to the table.
Smith is by no means slow and has good quickness and excellent ball skills. With a little bit of refinement, he should have no problem becoming a starter in the NFL. There are some question marks about whether he'll be able to keep in coverage against elite receivers, but Smith brings a fire to the game that would be a huge addition to Minnesota's defense.
Of all the positions we're listing here, safety is probably the least important for the Vikings. Yes, they'd like to find another ball hawk to match up with Harrison Smith, but in Robert Blanton and Andrew Sendejo, the Vikings have two safeties who are more than capable of playing good football.
That said, if a safety who perks their interest is available after the first round, the Vikings would have to think long and hard about bringing him into the fold.
Second Round: Damarious Randall, Arizona State
The 5'11", 196-pound Randall is a great athlete who would be an upgrade for the Vikings at safety.
Randall doesn't have ideal size for an NFL safety, but he plays much bigger than he is and is a punishing tackler. A football and baseball star in junior college, he took to football full-time after a shoulder injury impacted his baseball future.
Randall has a top-notch competition level that shows up against the run. He can more than hold his own against the pass and took interceptions back for touchdowns during both of his seasons with the Sun Devils.
Second Round: Quinten Rollins, Miami (Ohio)
We're going to include another enticing second-round prospect here. Rollins, like Randall, was not only a two-sport star but was purely a basketball star in college, starting for Miami at point guard for four years and setting a school record for career steals.
Rollins wanted to scratch his football itch after his basketball eligibility was up and immediately became a dominant cornerback for the Red Hawks.
Rollins had seven interceptions and was the Defensive Player of the Year in the MAC. He could play safety or corner in the NFL, and that versatility has to be intriguing to the Vikings. He's a heck of an athlete, and his nose for the football would be a welcome addition to Minnesota's secondary.
Third Round: James Sample, Louisville
Sample didn't get all the accolades that his fellow safety at Louisville, Gerod Holliman, got after Holliman picked off an incredible 14 passes in 2014, but Sample might be the better pro prospect.
Sample is a muscular 6'2", 210 pounds and has a nose for the ball, notching 74 tackles and four interceptions for the Cardinals in 2014.
He will have to get better against the pass in the NFL and be more disciplined in coverage. He might not be a guy who can step into a starting spot in 2015, but he'll land on an NFL roster.
Is Mike Wallace a true No. 1 receiver anymore?
Whether he is or not, the Vikings need to add a playmaker to their receiving corps. Charles Johnson was good in 2014, but he is nowhere close to being a sure thing. Cordarrelle Patterson might have the most potential on the team, but at this point that's all he has.
First Round: DeVante Parker, Louisville
Parker has consistently been the third-ranked wideout heading toward the 2015 draft, behind Amari Cooper and Kevin White.
We can't resist telling you that the third receiver picked in the 2014 draft was Odell Beckham Jr.
That's not to say that Parker is going to be an instant superstar in the league like Beckham—it's just a reminder that it's nearly impossible to project who will shine the brightest at the highest level.
Parker is a 6'3", 210-pound athlete who has everything you're looking for in a wideout. He combines size and speed with great hands. The fact that he played with Bridgewater at Louisville isn't why the Vikings would like to have him. It's because he's a great football player.
Second Round: Dorial Green-Beckham, Oklahoma
It might be wishful thinking to hope that Beckham will still be on the board when the Vikings choose at No. 45, but you have to remember that general manager Rick Spielman has a knack for trading up to get a guy if he likes him enough.
Green-Beckham is a 6'5", 237-pound physical freak who, at his ceiling, has a chance to be a dominant football player in the NFL. He has all the tools to succeed: great size and hands and plenty of speed to be a downfield threat.
He had a checkered college career, getting kicked off the team at Missouri and never playing after transferring to Oklahoma last season. He was the national high school player of the year in Missouri, and his tantalizing upside will have every NFL team hoping to get a shot at drafting him.
Third Round: Tre McBride, William & Mary
McBride dominated the lower-level competition at William & Mary, but there will be concerns about his ability to get open against the best defenders in the world.
McBride is 6'0", 210 pounds and has great hands with the ability to make circus catches. His 4.41 40-yard dash at the combine helped his draft stock, as there were questions about his straight-away speed.
He is an elite catcher of the football and has the potential to be a steal for whichever NFL team takes a shot on him. It would be a surprise if he wasn't taken during the second day of the draft.
First Round: Brandon Scherff, Iowa
Yes, it would be more exciting to take Waynes or Parker in the first round. They're playmakers.
But if Brandon Scherff of Iowa is still on the board when the Vikings pick, it will be hard to pass up a guy who has the potential to be an All-Pro caliber offensive lineman for a decade.
Scherff is probably the only offensive lineman with enough upside for Minnesota to consider in the first round. The 6'5", 320-pound blocking animal projects as an immediate starter at left guard. Teaming him up with Matt Kalil on the left side of the Vikings offensive line would be a gigantic improvement over the departed Charlie Johnson.
Scherff's arrival could only help the development of Kalil, whose success is critical for the Vikings moving forward. Taking a guard isn't a sexy first-round pick, but getting Scherff would be a huge win for Minnesota.
Second Round: A.J. Cann, South Carolina
The 6'3", 313-pound Cann was a four-year starter for the Gamecocks and could immediately step into the Vikings starting lineup at left guard.
Cann has a powerful lower body and is strong with his hands. He's a dominant blocker on the initial thrust but will have to improve his technique in staying with rushers.
Cann would bring a toughness and ability that the Vikings have lacked at left guard. He would go a long way toward shoring up the left side of the line.
Third Round: Ali Marpet, Hobart
Marpet might be rising too quickly up draft boards to still be around when the Vikings pick at No. 76, but he'd be an excellent third-round choice if he's available.
He obviously played against inferior competition at the D-III level, but he more than held his own at the Senior Bowl and improved his stock at the combine.
Marpet just has the look of a player who will excel at any level. He could give the Vikings a pair of small-college starters at guard along with Brandon Fusco, who played at Slippery Rock. Marpet played tackle in college but projects as a guard, and he should have little difficulty with the transition. He would be a great third-round get for the Vikings.
Second Round: Eric Kendricks, UCLA
While there's plenty of talk in Minnesota of reuniting Bridgewater with his college teammate DeVante Parker, putting Kendricks next to his UCLA teammate Anthony Barr could be just as exciting.
At 6'0", 232 pounds, Kendricks won't wow anybody with his physical stature. He didn't blow anybody away at the combine either. The hope for the Vikings is that those things will combine to keep him on the board long enough for Minnesota to draft him in the second round.
Quite simply, Kendricks is a tackling machine. Blessed with great football instincts, he is an ideal middle linebacker in that he has great recognition and a nose for where the ball is going to go. There are bigger and faster linebackers available in the draft, but there might not be any who will pile up as many tackles as Kendricks.
Second Round: Denzel Perryman, Miami
At 5'11, 236 pounds, Perryman is thumper in the mold of all the great 49ers linebackers of the last few years. He is a blaster who isn't afraid of anything on a football field.
He might not be an ideal middle linebacker against the pass, but he'd be a huge upgrade in the middle as far as making impact plays.
His size and pass defense inefficiencies might make him look like a bad fit for the Vikings, but Perryman has the potential to be a dominant middle linebacker in the NFL. He has the toughness and edge to his game that Minnesota has lacked at linebacker.
Fourth Round: Jake Ryan, Michigan
Ryan might be too similar to Audie Cole and Michael Mauti for the Vikings to take a shot on him, but he plays with all the intangibles and looks like a guy who can will his way into an NFL lineup.
At 6'2", 240 pounds, Ryan has good size, but he only played in the middle for one year at Michigan after being on the outside. He's a student of the game and a film-room fanatic, so he won't shy away from the transition to the NFL.
Ryan has the look of a guy whom everyone will wonder a couple of years down the road why he wasn't drafted higher.
If Adrian Peterson is on the Vikings roster next season, there will be no rookie running backs. You'd have to think that general manager Rick Spielman learned his lesson when he wasted a second-round pick on Toby Gerhart, who could never get on the field with Peterson around.
That's a big if, though. If Peterson is traded, Minnesota will more than likely want to add a guy who can split time with Jerick McKinnon in the backfield.
Second Round: Tevin Coleman, Indiana
Coleman became just the third Big Ten running back to rush for 2,000 yards when he exploded for the Hoosiers in 2014.
Coleman has a great burst and good cutback ability. He'll need to be a little more patient in the NFL and not be so anxious to burst through the line.
Minnesota probably has more pressing needs than running back in the first two rounds, but if Coleman is still on the board at No. 45, the Vikings would have to think about taking him.
Third Round: David Johnson, Northern Iowa
At 6'1", 225 pounds, Johnson has a really nice frame for an NFL running back and shows all the requisite skills to be a good pro at the highest level.
Johnson had three straight 1,000-yard seasons at Northern Iowa, and he is an excellent receiver out of the backfield, something that has to pique the Vikings' interest.
While probably not good enough to be an every-down starter in the NFL, he would make an excellent partner to McKinnon.
Fourth Round: David Cobb, Minnesota
At 5'11", 229 pounds, Cobb seemed to continually improve during his time with the Gophers. He doesn't have a great burst, but he's shown a good ability to read holes and cut back when necessary.
Cobb is a tough runner with great balance and could turn himself into a good NFL back. He might not have enough speed and elusiveness to be great, but he should be a solid contributor. He could certainly pair up with McKinnon to give Minnesota solid production in the running game.