The NFL Draft Combine is approaching quickly. Day one is mere weeks away, and it is ripe time to begin predicting the route the Vikings take when they go on the clock. Using Fanspeak’s Mock Draft Simulator, we will go through multiple mock drafts at various points throughout the lead up to draft day. Once free agency hits, we will have a better idea of the Vikings’ needs and strategies, but until that time, we will operate based on the Vikings’ draft tendencies and their current needs. We will also include some names that were on the board that were in serious consideration, but that we ultimately passed on.
Round 1, Pick 18: OL Cody Ford, Oklahoma
Passed On: TE Noah Fant, LB Devin White
Offensive line is clearly the Vikings’ most pressing need this offseason, and the draft will likely fill some of those slots. That said, given the Vikings are hurting more on the interior than at tackle, they do not necessarily need to go offensive line with their first pick. Fant and White both present elite talents at positions of tremendous need and would have been strong first round selections. However, Ford slipping a little to the Vikings is a dream scenario, as he is a top tackle prospect who also projects to be a talented guard. Should the Vikings eventually want to move Brian O’Neill over to left tackle, Ford is a prototypical right tackle with his size, power and athleticism.
Round 2, Pick 50: LB Devin Bush, Michigan
Passed On: OL Chris Lindstrom, OL Garrett Bradbury, Edge Jaylon Ferguson
Here is where things got real tricky. There were four players I loved on the board with this pick. There were two guys who could slide in and start day one at line, as well as perhaps the most productive defensive player in college football last year. Yet, with Bush on the board and the Vikings in dire need of another linebacker in the likely situation Anthony Barr walks, Bush is a perfect scheme fit as a day one starter. He is a sideline-to-sideline presence with strong coverage and blitzing upside, and he would have the stout line in front of him to allow him to shoot gaps.
Round 3, Pick 81: G Beau Benzschawel, Wisconsin
Passed On: Edge Oshane Ximines, WR Hakeem Butler
Since I passed on Bradbury and Lindstrom, it was a necessity to go lineman here. Ximines is a talent with a nice ceiling, but does not quite fit into the Vikings’ 4-3 scheme at this time. And while Butler is also a strong prospect, this is a spot to draft for more immediate need. Hence, Benzschawel. Now, Benzschawel is not an exact fit in the Vikings’ zone heavy scheme. He is more of a bruising power blocker. That said, he was clearly the most talented interior lineman still on the board with Elgton Jenkins taken a few picks before. Benzschawel is a guy who can start early, though he may take some time to adapt to the system.
Round 4, Pick 120: DT Daylon Mack, Texas A&M
Passed On: DT Khalen Saunders, TE Alize Mack, WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey
The pick here was between Mack and Saunders, the two best players on the board in my eyes. They are both short, stout, powerful nose tackles with surprising quickness. Ultimately, the flashes Mack has shown in his career are top notch. When he brings his hands effectively following his exceptional burst, he is nigh unblockable. The trick will be getting him to maintain that technique on a down-by-down basis. He could be an early rotation player on the Vikings’ defensive line.
Round 6, Pick 192: WR Keelan Doss, California-Davis
Doss has a combination of size and ball skills that are tough to find in round six. He is not an overly explosive athlete, but he has experience in the slot and on the edge and complements his size with exceptional hands. While his FCS pedigree and rawness as a route-runner will hamper him some early on, he has ability to see game reps before the 2019 season ends.
Round 6, Pick 210: DT Daniel Wise, Kansas
Passed On: RB Dexter Williams, TE Matt Sokol, OT Oli Udoh
Wise was one of the best players on the field during East-West Shrine week. He is a prototypical three-technique who uses great get-off and good hands to shoot gaps effectively. He would be a bit of a project, but he has rare starter upside for a sixth round pick.
Round 7, Pick 249: Edge Justin Hollins, Oregon
The East-West Shrine Game Defensive MVP, Hollins is an intriguing late round prospect. He has length and and quickness to be a good pass rusher, but he is also a bit on the lanky side and likely has to add considerable mass. His athletic pass rushing ability is most apparent on stunts, whereas his edge-rushing is much more raw. Hollins is more of a space rusher than one to engage and discard, which could point to more success in a 3-4 system. That said, in round seven, there is plenty of talent to work with.
Round 7, Pick 254: WR Travis Fulgham, Old Dominion
Like Doss, Fulgham is a big, productive receiver with average athletic ability. He is pretty refined for a late round prospect in terms of his body control and ability to leverage himself against coverage, and he has excellent hands, to boot. His shortcomings will be his mediocre quickness, which lead to average separation on his routes. But his size will certainly help his chances, because he knows what to do in contested catch situations.
The first two rounds are a big win, both in terms of getting best players available and in filling needs. After that, other than Mack, it is a bit of a mixed bag. The big misses are in failing to get tight ends and receivers who would project to compete for starting jobs early on. That said, there are several starter-caliber players in this class, and positions of greatest need were adequately filled.
–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.
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