The combine brought a few revelations and impacted the stock of a handful of top-tier talents. More players are in the public eye and more people are developing more opinions on said players. Free agency looms large now as team needs set to change drastically. But for one last pre-free agency go-around, we used Fanspeak’s Mock Draft Simulator to predict the Vikings’ draft strategy.
Round 1, Pick 18: LB Devin White, LSU
Passed On: OL Cody Ford, OT Andre Dillard, OT Jawaan Taylor, OT Greg Little
I hear the Vikings fans screaming, and by all indications, the Vikings are seriously considering taking a lineman in round one. However, look at all of those high profile names who were still available at 18. By this pick, the only lineman off the board was Jonah Williams. As such, the odds of finding day one starters on the line with not only the next pick in round two, but possibly in round three, are pretty high. Plus, Devin White is a top-15 talent, maybe even top-10. He was the best player available who also happens to fit a tremendous need for the Vikings.
Round 2, Pick 50: iOL Garrett Bradbury, N.C. State
Passed On: iOL Chris Lindstrom, OL Michael Jordan, Edge Jaylon Ferguson
This was a tough decision between Bradbury and Lindstrom. They are both steady, athletic interior linemen who could conceivably go late-round one. Ultimately, Bradbury’s malleability and zone experience earned him the nod. He is the perfect scheme fit for any offense that works open spaces and zone blocking, something the Vikings’ offense thrives on. Bradbury reminds a bit of Jason Kelce, in that they both had similar measurables and thrive on their quickness to get the job done. While it is unfair to compare Bradbury to one of the best centers in recent memory, he is the type of blocker who should lock down an interior line spot for a decade. Whether that is at center or guard is up to the Vikings’ opinion of how he and Pat Elflein project moving forward. But regardless, Bradbury brings consistency and versatility between the tackles.
Round 3, Pick 81: WR Andy Isabella, UMass
Passed On: TE Alize Mack, iOL Erik McCoy
Another tough call. Tight end and interior line are still greater needs than receiver, but Isabella was the best available at any position, and seems a more sure thing than Mack and McCoy. McCoy is more of a power system fit, and Mack does not bring the elite athleticism one would like in a tight end upgrade. Plus, the Vikings are still fairly receiver-needy, so the pick went to Isabella.
Round 4, Pick 120: TE Dawson Knox, Ole Miss
Passed On: DT Daylon Mack
This is the first mock draft where I have let either Daylon Mack or Khalen Saunders slip by. The reason why I chose a tight end in round four this go-around is twofold. For one, failing to get a strong pass catching tight end was the biggest failure of Mock Draft 1.0. Secondly, Knox is a potential steal as a fourth-round pick. He is a dangerous weapon with a great combination of size, speed and athleticism. His numbers do not stack up thanks to the glut of receivers Ole Miss boasted, but he is a real receiving threat who should be able to slot in and make plays day early on.
Round 6, Pick 190: DL Byron Cowart, Maryland
Passed On: iOL Nick Linder, LB Joe Giles-Harris
A former number one recruit, Cowart is a whole bunch of talent locked inside an NFL body. The trick will be finding a way to unlock it in a meaningful way. Perhaps Cowart was out of position the majority of his college career; he is built like a pass rushing three-technique, but has primarily played, and under-performed, as an edge rusher. At almost 300 pounds and with average quickness, Cowart’s best shot at finding the field at the next level will be on the interior. His play has been inconsistent, but many of his physical traits, plus his high standing out of high school, makes him an intriguing project in the late rounds.
Round 6, Pick 209: WR Terry Godwin, Georgia
If there is one thing the Vikings love in receivers, it is tight route running. Godwin possesses that in spades. He is certainly undersized with a skinny frame from top to bottom. However, he makes up for it with quickness and aggressiveness. He is not afraid to play physically, which gives him early value as a special teamer. As far as his future as a receiver, he has potential to get early reps out of the slot.
Round 7, Pick 247: RB Karan Higdon, Michigan
With the Vikings likely losing Latavius Murray, their backfield battle is going to be wide open. Dalvin Cook is locked in, but outside of that, questions abound. Higdon is built like a prototypical scat back, but runs hard and aggressively with good vision. He accounted for over 1,200 yards last year at Michigan, almost all in the run game, so his role as a pass catcher is based more in optimism than game film. While not the shiftiest back, Higdon can make guys miss with strong cuts and breakaway speed. With his productive potential, Higdon becomes the third undersized skill player for the Vikings in this mock.
Round 7, Pick 250: OL Mitch Hyatt, Clemson
To be honest, Hyatt in the seventh round seems a little late. He seems more like a fifth or sixth round guy to me. That said, Hyatt is a four-year starter with a lot of polish as a blocker. He is probably too small to play tackle, but there is enough athleticism and power there to see him as a future starter in a zone offense. His experience and consistency should be enough to land him on a roster somewhere out of the gate, and with the Vikings, he could add depth on the interior, where they have had loads of injury issues the last few years.
Two Vikings mock drafts without a single defensive back selected? Seems an unlikely outcome, given their track record. But the free agent market is looking good for defensive backs, so we are counting on the Vikings filling any necessary gaps there, while also retaining most of the depth they already have.
As for these results, this mock clearly stressed offense more than defense. In the first mock, we went offense for four of the eight picks. This go-around, it was six of eight. Now, the choice to only take one lineman early will likely concern some, but Bradbury is a near lock to start day one, while White and Isabella also both figure to make significant differences right away. Plus, the offensive line market is fairly strong, so it is a safe guess the Vikings will have two line spots upgraded filled by the time camp rolls around.
The biggest failure this time was defensive line. The draft is loaded with line talent up top, but the herd thinned quite a bit as the draft wore on. And with other needs and better players available, defensive tackle got the shaft this time around.
–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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