Minnesota Vikings 7-Round Mock Draft
(Companion piece for Purple FTW! Episode 93)
by Luke Inman (@Luke_Spinman)
Had a great time jumping on with mah-man-main Andy Carlson on the “Purple For The Win” podcast today and spewing all my thoughts and feelings regarding the Purple People Eaters. We kept our focus on the Vikings offseason plans including what route they might veer towards entering free agency, and what players they should keep of their own with expired contracts.
As I started out our conversation and will likely reiterate throughout this offseason process, the Vikings biggest move will be the decision on whether to keep Adrian Peterson or release him and his massive contract into free agency. As much as I approve of restructuring his contract and keeping him in the Viking’s backfield, my football gut says the team will choose to move on from him and his “off the field baggage”.
Along with Peterson’s contract, the Vikings may be inclined to pass on linebacker Chad Greenway’s last year of his deal as well, if thats the case the Vikings will clear up plenty of cap space and allow general manager Rick Spielman to be a player in free agency, if he so desires (which is not always the case). Between the two the Vikings would clear up close to 25 million dollars in cap space, along with Jerome Felton, Corey Wooten, Jasper Brinkley, and a few others’ contract too add to the suddenly ever growing purple bank account.
Judging off past moves, Spielman would likely use a majority of that money to sign key members of the team to long term contracts like safety Harrison Smith first and foremost, and down the road Sharrif Floyd and Xavier Rhodes.
The Vikings draft plans will be the domino effect of the aforementioned Peterson, as well as the ripple effect of what free agents they bring in and what role on the team they will play. Being that’s much of a guessing game at this point its difficult to determine what the Vikings will still desire come draft time. However, at this juncture here is a seven-round mock draft given the teams current needs as it stands today.
Translation, here is a way too early Vikings mock draft..
Option number one is always too trade back and garnish extra draft picks, and it feels good knowing somewhere out there Rick Spielman is thinking the same thing given his history of wheeling-and-dealing on draft day. Spielman has a knack for turning those seemingly meaningless late round draft picks into key starting pieces of the team like John Sullivan, Everson Griffen, Brandon Fusco, Blair Walsh, Jarius Wright, Gerlad Hodges, and more.
Coincidently, the Vikings are slotted one spot ahead of the Cleveland Browns who have a recent history of trading up one spot with Spielman two of the past four years. Convincing the Browns that we will take the top WR on their board seems like a likely story to get them to swap picks and grab an extra fourth-rounder in this example, considering both teams should be in need for a playmaking wide-out in the draft. Of course Pretty Ricky could find another trade partner or simply be content on grabbing his top player where they sit. Plenty of things to consider when trying to predict where the Vikings will ultimately pick this May and those are just a few.
First Round: Brandon Scherff, Offensive Tackle, Iowa
The 2014 Outland trophy winner will take Charlie Johnson’s place right from camp and learn from the guard position where he will thrive from day one. As fun as it would be to give Zimmer another toy on defense or give Bridgewater another weapon in the passing game this is the right move considering this was by far the worst position for the Vikings last year. Vikings take a page out of the Dallas Cowboys in a copy cat league and start turning there weakness into a strength. Sullivan, Fusco, and Loadholt are all being payed big money and will be back in the starting lineup in 2014. While Matt Kalil was highly criticized for most of the season he improved towards the end and actually gave up just one sack his last six games. With another offseason to rehabilitate his supposed lingering knee injury, Vikings fans can cross there fingers that he finally returns to his rookie pro bowl level. However, if not the Vikings have a back up plan with Scherff who can start and learn form the guard position his first year, and give them the flexibility to slide him over to left tackle in 2016 if Kalil can’t regain his pro-bowl form. The team must learn from their mistakes and build there offensive line back up and have a plan B ready if Kalil or more injuries take place. Sexy? No. The right move? No doubt.
Second Round: Marcus Peters, Cornerback, Washington
Before an incident with his coaching staff with the Washington Huskies Marcus Peters was the clear cut number one cornerback of the class with great physicality, instincts, football recognition, and athleticism. There are knocks on him as he can be a little over aggressive and grabby which is something I worry about at the next level with all the ticky-tack calls in the NFL. His off the field issues are something that the origination will do there due diligence with, but there is no question Peters is a first round caliber player that falls further than his talent indicates. With Zimmer running the show now Spielman should feel confident that he can take care of his off the field issues while honing his on the field techniques. When you start to look at the big picture on a defense that progressed leaps and bounds under Zimmer’s first year, there was still many issues and growing pains in the secondary that need to be shored up. And, while I highly doubt the team will cut there losses on Captain Munnerlyn after just one season, I do feel like they want to get him into his more natural position inside in the nickel role, and bringing in a true outside cornerback to pair with Xavier Rhodes. You all know the bit, in a division with guys like Jordy Nelson, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and many other talented receivers, at the end of the day the Vikings just need more need more talent because Josh Robinson can’t hang with the big boys.
Round Three: Dorial Green-Beckham, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma
Another player that has first-round talent that will fall further than he should due to character concerns and off the field issues, Beckham falls into the laps of the Vikings. A monster of a man who displays an even bigger catch radius for his quarterback to throw to, Beckham measures up at 6’6” 220 pounds. Beckham will step on the field and give the offense there first legitimate deep-threat since Sidney Rice and another red zone threat next to Kyle Rudolph. While there are a slew of quality receivers that could be considered more well rounded and polished than Beckham, its his size that the team will covet that he owns over his peers. The addition will help take pressure off other wide-outs like Cordaralle Patterson and Charles Johnson, and will help get Greg Jennings into his most natural role as a slot receiver. If your keeping score at home that’s two players the team has added with character concerns, but between Spielman doing his due diligence and Zimmer’s demand of players with high work ethic this team
Round Four: Anthony Harris, Safety, Virginia
Even with all the magic Zimmer performed on his defense it was the secondary that let them down too many times to feel content with the roster at hand. I was one of the bigger Robert Blanton supporters when the season started, and even though he struggled at times this season the coaching staff may be prepared to bank on his progression as a starter from year one to year two with a season of Zimmer’s exotic defensive scheme under his belt. Of course its equally as likely the Vikings are prepared to bring in some heavy competition via free agency or through the draft, or hell maybe even both. While this isn’t necessarily a one man safety class, Alabama’s Landon Collins is head and heels over his peers (and even he has some concerns). A big drop off after Collins and its take your pick from the rest of the bunch. Harris is a great consolation prize after Collins in the fourth round and could fit well next to Harrison Smith. Harris has a slid mix of both run support and coverage skills. In 2014 he amassed 108 tackles with 10 pass deflections while a year earlier he led the nation with eight interceptions showing off his good range. In Zimmer’s defense his safeties are asked to do a lot and must be able to jump in the box and play centerfield. Harris can do both and will get in the mix with last years rookie Antone Exum to light a fire under Blanton’s you know what.
Round Four (From Cleveland): Martrell Spaight, Outside Linebacker, Arkansas
In a crazy deep class of pass rushers it will be these later rounds where Spielman cashes in on some great value picks. While he isn’t a feared pass-rusher yet, Martrell Spaight led the SEC in tackles in 2014 with 123 and was named to the All-SEC team, an honor not to be taking lightly. Spaight projects best as a weak-side linebacker in a base 4-3 where he can use his sideline-to-sideline skills to chase down ball carriers. With the potential of Chad Greenway leaving via free agency, Zimmer will ask Rick to get him athletic bodies in the front-seven. While I am more content to run with Barr, Cole, and Hodges, the coaching staff may not be, and if that’s the case the team could take advantage of this deep class much earlier. None the less, there is tremendous value here with Spaight who will add more talent and dependability into a linebacking unit desperate depleted of depth.
Round Five: Lyden Trail, Defensive End, Norfolk
While Spaight gives you depth as a pure linebacker, Trail will provide good depth as a pass rusher with the raw potential to be a dominant starter way down the road. A monster at 6’6” Trail played outside linebacker at FCS school Norfolk where he was named not one, but two time Defensive Player of the Year. A talented ball of front-seven clay for Zimmer to mold, Trail has the versatility that his head coach craves to be able to line up in multiple spots standing up and with his hand in the dirt. Like others on this list Trail has doe off the field baggage. A Florida Gator at one time Trail was booted off the team and forced to transfer to a smaller school like Norfolk where he stood out after a domestic assault charge years ago.
Round Six: Rob Havenstein, Offensive Tackle, Wisconsin
Even with a talent like Brandon Scherff the Vikings are still in desperate need of bodies all over the offensive line after watching three of their starters hit the IR in 2014. After watching guys like Mike Harris and Vladimer Duccase struggle as starters I trust the Vikings brass is ready to get a plan in place to realign the depth chart with younger talent. Havenstein is a monster of a man at 6’8” 338 pounds and is the biggest player on the field more times than not. While his footwork and quickness are average at best, his size alone can dominate as a run blocker on the right side behind Phil Loadholt. Havenstein will likely be labeled as a right tackle only, but has a huge opportunity to prove otherwise during this years senior bowl while he lines up against some of the best competition in the country.
Round Seven: Matt Jones, Running Back, Florida
Does he stay or will he go? Adrian Peterson’s future is still up in limbo but either way the team will likely add a running back at some point with Jerick McKinnon coming off of back surgery and Matt Asiata set to be a restricted free agent. At 6’2” 226 pounds Jones is a physical down hill runner who would likely take over for Asiata as some “thunder” to McKinnon’s “lightning”. A big name recruit coming out of college Jones was plagued by injuries and an average at best supporting cast, but has the tools to be a good complimentary tailback, and can thrive as a short yardage and red zone back.
[Photo Credit: Luke Inman – Marriane O’Leary – Modified]