With the first wave of free agency in the books, the ripple affects will now begin to affect how teams will focus their strategies heading towards next month’s spring draft. The Minnesota Vikings will be going into the draft with some needs to fill as they look to retool and reload for another run at finishing the job they had started in 2017 and make it to the Super Bowl.
With the offensive and defensive lines projected as the top needs at this time, here’s my latest projected Seven Round Mock Draft, post-Combine:
Round 1, Pick #18
Offensive Tackle Andre Dillard, Washington State
With Christian Wilkins and Devin White already off the board, the decision comes down to two offensive linemen in Andre Dillard and Cody Ford. Despite the flexibility that Ford presents, Dillard’s potential at the left tackle position is a little too great to pass up.
Though Riley Reiff was one of the few bright spots of the offensive line. he’s still too much of an up-and-down performer. Dillard may be the best pass protecting lineman in this draft class and would potentially be an upgrage on Kirk Cousin’s blindside.
Round 2, Pick #5 (trade with New York Giants)
Tight End T.J. Hockenson, Iowa
After receiving the Houston Texans’ second and third round picks in exchange for Minnesota’s second round selection prior to the opening of the round, I see that tight end T.J Hockenson is still on the draft board. I decide to initiate a trade with the New York Giants to move up and get him.
In Hockenson, the Vikings would be getting arguably the most complete tight end in the class. His combination of good hands, speed and blocking ability make him an upgrade over Kyle Rudolph going forward. In the interim, pairing him with the veteran in certain packages would give the Vikings mismatches in the pass game that would only help Kirk Cousins.
Round 3, #26 (trade with Dallas Cowboys)
Defensive Tackle Isaiah Buggs, Alabama
With Sheldon Richardson and Tom Johnson both free agents, this is an area of concern. Buggs would be the perfect pick for the Vikings here. His abilities as an inside pass rusher would be a boon for them.
Having played alongside one of the draft class’ top five players in Quinnen Williams, he should be right at home playing with guys like Linval Joseph and Danielle Hunter. Could be a Day One starter.
Round 4, #26 (from Dallas)
Guard Ben Powers, Oklahoma
Has good power, but lacking some technique. Has a mean streak that could endure him to Mike Zimmer. Also has enough flexibility to play both guard spots, possibly center in a pinch.
May not be ready to challenge for a starting job right away but could work his way into one down the line.
Round 6, #17
Running Back Benny Snell, Kentucky
He’s probably my favorite Day Three prospect and I’m sticking with him. His power running style is the perfect compliment to Dalvin Cook’s talents.
He’s not going to blow people away with speed, but he will run through and drag defenders for yards. That’s the type of runner this team needs in short yardage and goal line situations.
Round 6, #17
Quarterback Ryan Finley, NC State
With Trevor Siemian a free agent, that leaves only Kyle Sloter behind Kirk Cousins on the quarterback depth chart. Finley would be a guy they could look to as the next developmental quarterback if they are confident that Sloter is ready to be Cousin’s backup.
Has a good arm and pocket presence. Can also scramble a bit.
Round 7, #33
Defensive tackle Amani Bledsoe, Oklahoma
This is mostly a depth selection here. Will need to compete in camp to make the team. More than likely a practice team candidate.
Round 7, #36
Linebacker Dashaun Davis, Auburn
Has some good tape. Could be gone before this pick, but would provide quality depth to the position as well as a presence on special teams.
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