2011 NFL Mock Draft: Minnesota Vikings Final 7-Round Predictions
So exciting, isn’t it?
I have speculated a ton about players, made some minor—and some significant—tweaks along the way and fine-tuned the mock based on needs, possible player availability and a little hope on my behalf.
Let’s take a stroll through who I have the Vikings going after. I DO NOT have them making any moves to trade up or down despite some speculation out there, and I expect the Vikings to swiftly make some sort of move towards acquiring a veteran quarterback shortly after the draft.
Round 1: Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal
There was some wonder on my part as to whether the Vikings were going to consider Auburn’s Nick Fairley, but I don’t see him getting past the Titans, which brings us to Jordan.
Ultimately, I have a feeling the Vikings pull the trigger on the versatile DE—who can also play tackle—allowing him to follow in his father’s footsteps while affording the club the flexibility to continue to focus on defense.
Here’s a final look at Jordan:
One of the most versatile—if not the most—defensive linemen in the draft who can play in both a 4-3 set and a 3-4 set.
Played in 50 of 51 possible games and made 32 starts at Cal from 2007-10.
Honorable mention All-American (Pro Football Weekly) and first-team All-Pac-10 choice as a senior in 2010 after two consecutive honorable mention All-Pac-10 campaigns in 2008 and 2009.
One-hundred seventy-five tackles (88 unassisted, 87 assisted), while adding 34 tackles for loss (-122 yards) and 16.5 sacks (-89 yards) to rank just outside the school's all-time top 10 in each of the latter two categories.
Added one interception that he returned for three yards, five pass breakups, four forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries that he returned for a total of 41 yards and twice for touchdowns.
Round 2: Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia,
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I had to force myself to use a bit of common sense and look more towards the probable second-rounders here. The Vikings need to fix their coverage liabilities with the CB position being a good start.
Ras-I Dowling is a corner who has fallen over the past few weeks, but could easily fit right into the Vikings system.
Here’s a look at Dowling’s attributes, and why he’s a nice fit:
Excellent cover man who consistently stays in position. Can run out of the read on the QB and can quickly break into a transitional corner.
Superb candidate for teams who utilize man-to-man like the Vikings. Long arms, great jam ability off the line and wonderful speed.
Aggressive blitzer off the corner and from the slot; can use speed to disrupt quarterback or at the very least flush him out to the tackles and ends.
Plays at a near-pro level in zone coverage which will come in handy against pass-heavy divisional opponents. Is fluid in his motion, knows how to force a throw when baiting and knows where he is at all times.
Round 4: Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa
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Here it is kids. No Jake Locker, no Blaine Gabbert, no Cam Newton, no Andy Dalton. The Vikings keep their cool and calmly wait until the fourth to scoop up Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi—the most underrated QB in the draft.
Ranked fourth in the Big Ten and 12th nationally in passing efficiency (157.63), setting an Iowa single-season record.
Finished with a 26-9 record as a starting quarterback, ranking second among Iowa quarterbacks in career wins.
Threw at least one touchdown pass in 21 consecutive games to establish an Iowa record.
Ranks fourth in career completions (542), third in career touchdown passes (56), passing yards (7,377), pass attempts (907) and total offense (7,373).
The only quarterback to start three games and win three games against Penn State coach Joe Paterno.
Only Iowa quarterback and just third Big Ten quarterback to start and win three bowl games and one of seven seniors named to 2010 Leadership Group.
A strong-arm quarterback who knows how to play under center and manage any given game.
Considered a starter-in-the-making-type quarterback with all the right developmental tools.
Efficient passer and excellent check-down passer who knows how to get out of coverage trouble.
In 2010, Stanzi started all 13 games at quarterback and completed 221 of 345 pass attempts for 3,004 yards and 25 touchdowns with just six interceptions.
But what’s really intriguing is his ability to protect the ball, move the chains, utilize the short-passing game and take advantage of the opportunities deep when presented.
The Vikings will be featuring more double-TE sets and will need the helmsman to move those chains and utilize both the short and long ball in an effort to balance out the air attack—something Stanzi excels at.
Also, Stanzi’s unusual mobility at 6’4” and 233 will eventually come in real handy.
Round 5 (1st Pick): Austin Pettis, WR, Boise State
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One of two draft predictions I haven’t let up on, is the call that the Vikings grab Pettis in the fifth, and this piece will be no different.
Pettis just makes a lot of sense, despite the realized possibility that the Vikings could grab him with their second fifth-round pick.
The club will have a distinct need for a true slot receiver who can create the extra offensive opportunity over the middle and penetrate the zones—especially if a new QB eventually goes under center—and Pettis just fit the bill.
Not to mention he would still be a steal in the early goings of the fifth.
Round 5 (2nd Pick): J.T. Thomas, OLB, West Virginia
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The other mainstay prediction I am sticking with is West Virginia linebacker J.T. Thomas.
This is a versatile backer who comes from one of the best defenses in all of college football, and has the heightened experience and skill sets to make an immediate impact in the pros.
The Vikings are hurting in the linebacker department—no mystery there—and Thomas is a guy who can really come in and give this club the aggressiveness and versatility they need.
In the past, I've had the Vikings grabbing him in the sixth round, but I believe they take no chances and grab him with that second fifth-round selection.
Round 6: Jah Reid, OT, UCF
I think the Vikings realize they can still find back-end quality at OT in the later rounds, and with that, find themselves selecting Jah Reid from UCF.
At 6’8”, 325 pounds, his massive presence is a welcomed aspect, and his above-average athleticism and health is a great developmental facet.
The Vikings aren’t too concerned with the OT right now, but in time, they are going to have to utilize someone other than their current roster.
Reid’s only knock is his lack of a mean side, but the pro level has a funny way of fixing that.
Round 7: Rob Housler, TE, Florida Atlantic
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This is my surprise pick, despite admitting there is a chance Housler will not fall to the seventh round.
But if he does, boy-oh-boy is this guy a steal.
Housler’s 6’6”, 249-pound frame came in with a 4.55 40-yard dash and an impressive receiving resume:
Eight TDs alongside 1,228 yards on 78 catches.
He’s tall, lanky, speedy and a great insurance policy for the Vikings going forward.
For a look at Houlser’s potential fantasy value this year, come check out him and my other Underrated Draft Players article.
Well, there ya have it folks: the final round-by-round prediction. Hopefully I’ll have another year where one or two of my predictions come true, and hopefully the Vikings wind up acquiring exactly who they want.
Make sure to leave who you think the Vikes will get below, and thanks for reading.