Minnesota Vikings Mock Draft: A Complete 7-Round Wish List
Another week, another mock. While colleague Bill Hubbell did an excellent job nailing down what fans might be able to expect from the 2013 Draft, there's always the possibility that the Vikings end up lucky on draft day and find prospects falling into their lap.
Instead of a prediction, we'll take a look at a "wish list" of prospects who could conceivably fall to where the Vikings are, but more likely than not will be snapped up by the time Minnesota can draft.
Despite an incredible run to attempt a postseason appearance, the Vikings still have a bevy of needs they should address, and the 2013 Draft could go a long way in making sure they succeed.
Round One: Johnathan Hankins, DT Ohio State
The general consensus seems to be that Johnathan Hankins is the second-best defensive tackle in the draft. He can play across the line in 5-technique, 3-technique, 1-technique or 0-technique—meaning he can line up across guards and centers or in the gaps on either side of the guards.
Best known for eating up space, Hankins is extremely difficult to move off the point of attack, even with well-executed double teams. He does well to stuff runs at the line of scrimmage, and moves laterally with the best of them, often making tackles well outside the box.
While his sack totals weren't that high, his pass rushing presence was felt nevertheless, as he consistently applied pressure to opposing quarterbacks.
Hankins started falling as his stats declined after September, but he still played at an elite level and should be considered a legitimate NFL threat.
That said, some teams might fancy Jesse Williams or Jonathan Jenkins, which would drop Hankins to the 19-21st spot Minnesota seems to be gunning for. A few mocks have Hankins falling all the way to 15 or 17, including one from our very own Matt Miller. It is not inconceivable that Hankins could be had, as most of those mocks had Minnesota selecting at 17. Moving up two spots due to their win record decreases their chances, but not too much.
The Ohio State product would provide the interior bulk, intelligence, power and speed that had been lacking since the departure of Pat Williams. If Minnesota could nab Hankins, there's a good chance they could become a top five defense once more.
Round 2: Robert Woods, WR USC
A preseason favorite due to his phenomenal sophomore season, Robert Woods could find himself on the outside looking in on draft day, with his stock falling as he gets overshadowed by fellow receiver Marqise Lee on the field and Justin Hunter or Terrance Williams in NFL war rooms.
Woods' ankle injury really did a number on him, and his low production is in part because he wasn't back to full strength. He was slower out of cuts and not nearly as explosive.
The Combine will mean a lot for Woods, who used to be at the top of his draft class. Proving that he still has the agility that made him great just two years prior might bear more on his draft status than his 2012 production.
If Woods has his speed back, he could return to be one of the best deep receivers in the draft. As it is, he has nearly every other fundamental skill a college receiver needs to do well, including elite route-running and precision.
The Vikings need a receiver who can consistently generate separation and can run most of the route tree, including deep routes. While Woods' lower production has decreased his value relative to Terrance Williams, Justin Hunter and Keenan Allen, there's no question that a healthy Robert Woods can contribute to the Vikings.
Round 3: Khaseem Greene, OLB Rutgers
Khaseem Greene has moved up some draft boards and looks to be gone somewhere between the bottom of the second round and the middle of the third round. If he stays for just a little bit longer, it wouldn't be bad for the Vikings to snap him up.
With plays like Kevin Minter and Shayne Skov potentially available, it might seem odd that the Vikings would look towards an outside linebacker, but Khaseem's skills all point to a successful middle linebacker career in the Vikings system.
His excellent coverage is going to be an asset, allowing the Vikings to rely on their base Tampa-2 coverage when they need to.
He's been on a tear for Rutgers and is easily the team's best defender, finishing with 141 tackles. He can get across the field quickly and has a good nose for the ball. His agility, speed and relatively good play diagnosis would serve the Vikings well in the middle, and if Greene falls all the way to the last ten picks of the third round, it would be hard to pass him up.
Round 4 (from the Lions): Gabe Jackson, OG Mississippi State
Despite playing on a nearly revamped offensive line, Jackson has been able to put up some good performances against the top defensive tackles in the SEC, including Alabama's own Jesse Williams. He's known best for controlling the point of attack and paving lanes open, and was partially responsible for Vick Ballard's success.
With good length, he doesn't always have to operate inside the limited space that the guard position provides and could provide opportunities to back up the tackle position.
He has a solid first step that fits well with teams in a zone-blocking system much like the Vikings. Jackson should come off the board in the third round, but if the Vikings have a chance to grab a quality guard at the top of the fourth, they should go for it.
The performances provided by Charlie Johnson and Brandon Fusco have been an embarrassment, and Jackson could provide the spark the interior needs to really develop into a cohesive line.
He's not as well known for pass protection, which is a reason he could fall, but he did well against the SEC's top competition in preventing pressure. While he has problems keeping his legs moving and maintaining proper leverage, someone with his physical talents should be ignored.
Round 4: Terry Hawthorne, CB Illinois
At 6'1" and with projected 4.5 speed, Hawthorne could be the depth cornerback the Vikings need in case they need a defensive back to step up and match up against the tall, speedy receivers in the division. With Chris Cook out for two consecutive seasons (albeit for completely unrelated issues), the Vikings may want to make sure they have someone on the roster who is a physical match for some of their biggest threats.
Hawthorne has played as both a cornerback and receiver, although he has much, much more time as a defensive back. He has some technique problems, but his range in zone coverage as well as his intuition at reading the quarterback are up there with some of the better prospects.
He will bite for fakes, but still provides a good rangy corner to help shut down opposite Cook, should it become necessary.
The concussion he suffered against Wisconsin is a big red flag, and could be the reason the Vikings are able to select him at such a low price; "the injury-prone" label is hard to shake, no matter how well deserved it may be.
Given that Illinois wanted to experiment with kickoff returns and punt returns, Hawthorne also represents an opportunity to say goodbye to Marcus Sherels.
Round 5: Ryan Swope, WR Texas A&M
Ryan Swope's draft stock is hard to gauge—as it is for nearly any player expected to go on the second day, but it's not likely teams will find him in the fifth round. If the Vikings are in that position, they should pounce.
Swope might fall a little due to Combine results; he's not the fastest or the strongest player on the field. His statistics with A&M don't pop off the page either. With seven touchdowns and 809 yards, he's hardly been putting up elite numbers.
It just so happens, however, that his best games were against the toughest opponents, including an 11-reception, 111-yard performance against Dee Milliner and Alabama. As the number one receiver for Tannehill the year earlier, many expected Swope to excel, but a dropoff from 1207 yards to 809 is disappointing.
Nevertheless, he's worth a look because of his incredible quickness, especially at the breaks. While his straight line speed is usually not the fastest on the field, he can get in and out of breaks with surprising agility and develop separation from cornerbacks before they know what happened.
He's dangerous after the catch, too, and can take a screen pass to the house as well as anybody—something the Vikings well know the value of.
While Swope won't necessarily stretch the field vertically with elite speed, he can be a big difference maker for a team lacking receivers who can get open on a consistent basis. The young Aggie could certainly improve the offense, even if it's through gains of 15-20 yards instead of gains of 30 yards.
Even then, he's not restricted—once he learns more sophisticated technique, he should be able to shake cornerbacks in spite of his slightly better-than-average speed on deep routes. He's coming underrated out of the draft, and will likely (unfairly) fall further after the Combine.
Round 6 (from Tennessee): D.J. Swearinger, S SCAR
The Cardinals and Vikings still haven't disclosed which late-round pick was given in exchange for A.J. Jefferson, but it's pretty clear that it is either a sixth-round or seventh-round pick.
For simplicity's sake, we can assume it's a sixth-round pick and that the only draft slot that the Vikings will have in this round will be the one they received from the Tennessee Titans.
D.J. Swearinger might be available for the Vikings at that point, something which would require him to underperform his projections by nearly a full round.
At the beginning of his time in college, Swearinger looked like a seventh-round prospect or even an undrafted free agent, but he improved as the year went on.
His ability to engage in the open field and take down free runners has expanded considerably, while his instincts were always good.
He's a hard hitter, but is better known for always being around the ball instead of running people over. He clearly has a number of issues to work on, but his range may well make it worth it.
Roung 7: Malliciah Goodman, DE Clemson
The Vikings have historically loved adding new defensive ends to their roster in order to rotate them through and rest some of them during specific snaps, even if they have All-Pros at the position.
Malliciah Goodman is a defensive end for the Clemson Tigers who could well develop into a threat given enough time in the right defense.
Goodman has a quick first step, but isn't explosive off the edge, occasionally being the first to rush the gap, only to be blocked out too many times.
He isn't the strongest player, either, but looks to be versatile enough to play in the 3-technique tackle position if necessary, something that has excited a few draft watchers. He makes up for this lost strength with excellent technique and good handwork.
Goodman is well known as a hard worker who refines his skills every day. He does a very good job in one-on-one battles and can handle blockers well.
While the Vikings don't necessarily need another defensive end on their roster, they'd be happy to grab Goodman if he were to fall that far. His technique is better than most defensive ends in the draft and his pass rushing moves are also better than most of his peers.
His versatility shouldn't be ignored and if the Vikings see Goodman fall to their spot near the end of the draft, they'll have stumbled on to some very useful talent.