With free agency mostly settled down, NFL teams are turning their attention towards the spring draft. After making few changes through free agency, the Minnesota Vikings appear to be placing their hopes for a bounce-back in their upcoming rookie class. Despite returning a top-tier defense in 2018, the Vikings finished a disappointing 8-7-1 and missed the playoffs due in large part to an offense that failed to hold up their end of the deal. If they are to get back to upper echelon of the NFC, their draft will likely be focused on that side of the ball.
FPC Vikings’ Sam Smith and Clayton Brooks teamed up for this latest mock draft, discussing and debating each selection along the way. Here is Full Press Coverage Vikings’ latest mock draft.
Round 1, Pick 18: DT Ed Oliver, Houston
Passed On: TE T.J. Hockenson, iOL Garrett Bradbury
Brooks: With the top offensive line prospects in Jonah Williams, Jawaan Taylor, Cody Ford and Andre Dillard all off the board early, my first instinct was to grab either tight end T.J. Hockenson or center Garrett Bradbury. However, Ed Oliver is sitting at the top of the draft board. Oliver is coming off a strong Pro Day. His skill set and talent reminds many of Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald. As badly as Minnesota needs help for their offensive line, Oliver’s talents are simply too great to pass up.
Smith: If I am being honest, I would be floored if Oliver falls to the Vikings. I do not think he makes it out of top-10, but if he does, either the Packers or Falcons will jump on him. That said, he was left on the board in our draft and plays a position of need. Like Clayton said, with no real enticing offensive linemen available besides Bradbury, going best player available is the best option. Oliver could and should start day one, and he will make an immediate impact. Defensive tackles with his level of explosion and athleticism do not fall to 18 very often.
Round 2, Pick 50: G Chris Lindstrom, Boston College
Passed On: WR Parris Campbell, WR Deebo Samuel, DT Jerry Tillery
Brooks: It did not take long to find a player whose talent matches with the current draft spot and addresses the Vikings’ greatest need. With only two defensive linemen ahead of him, guard Chris Lindstrom is the next best player on the board. His athletic ability and talent are an excellent scheme fit for what Minnesota is wanting to do in 2019.
Smith: Lindstrom is everything the Vikings should want in an interior linemen. He is big, strong, technically sound and as athletic a pure guard prospect as you will find in this draft. For my money, he has day one starter written all over him.
Round 3, Pick 82: WR Andy Isabella, Massachusetts
Passed On: WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR Terry McLaurin, TE Dawson Knox
Brooks: The board is now littered with offensive skill players. With offense being heavily emphasized this off-season, I lean towards taking J.J. Arcega-Whiteside here. His size and skillset would be a welcome addition to a receiver group that lacks consistent contributors outside of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.
However, after discussing Sam’s choice for the pick, I had to agree with Andy Isabella being the better overall pick here. His ability to return kicks and punts would give him a slight edge. His route running would also make him a valuable asset to the offense, especially on third downs where the Vikings struggled last season.
Smith: This is the first one where we had a real debate. I am a big Isabella guy. Despite his size, I think he can play inside and out, is an efficiently dynamic route-runner and can stretch the field. To me, he would work perfectly off Diggs and Thielen, two other excellent route-runners. I see the appeal of Arcega-Whiteside. He is a more prototypical outside target and he will be a difference-maker in the red zone right away. But to me, with Thielen, Diggs and Kyle Rudolph already around as great red zone threats, Isabella brings that extra dimension of quick twitch athlete who can make plays after the catch.
Round 4, Pick 121: TE Josh Oliver, San Jose State
Passed On: RB Damien Harris
Brooks: Once again, offensive skill players fill the top of the board. Although running back is a depth need, there’s not a back that fits what we’re looking for. With the constant talk of Rudolph possibly leaving, filling the tight end position would be ideal here.
Josh Oliver is sitting fifth on the draft board. Though he wasn’t utilized that often at San Jose State, he displayed good speed and solid hands. With a little more development, he could become an eventual successor to Rudolph. The Vikings could pair the two in 2019 to create favorable mismatches for quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Smith: Look at the league’s top tight ends. Last year’s top two pass catchers at the position were George Kittle and Travis Kelce, went in the fifth and third rounds, respectively. Great, game-changing tight ends come out of day two, day three fairly consistently. Oliver is a dynamic athlete who can stretch the field and take on a high-target load. San Jose State discovered his talent late in his career, and he put up great numbers once they did. He might be a bit of a project, but Rudolph will not be around forever, and the Vikings need a pass catching tight end to work the middle and the red zone consistently.
Round 6, Pick 192: RB Devine Ozigbo, Nebraska
Passed On: RB Karan Higdon
Brooks: Still not finished addressing the offense, we’re looking for a running back at this stage. Fortunately, there are two sitting within the top ten: Karan Higdon and Devin Ozigbo. Though Higdon is rated the better of the two, he doesn’t provide anything different than the backs that are currently on the roster. Ozigbo, however, provides a physical running style that is missing with the defection of Latavius Murray to New Orleans. He’s also a patient runner with a little bit more speed and a willing blocker.
Smith: Like Clayton said, I may have gone with Higdon were Murray still around. He has decent scat back potential. However, since Murray left for New Orleans, they lack a strong downhill runner in the backfield. Ozigbo can bring that with his low, powerful frame.
Round 6, Pick 211: OT Isaiah Prince, Ohio State
Passed On: OT Tyree St. Louis
Brooks: Even with taking an offensive lineman earlier, the Vikings still need to add more talent to that group. Isaiah Prince is still sitting on the board. He’s a bit raw, but if the Vikings can develop him, he could become a respectable starter down the line.
Smith: Prince is an upside play. He is super-long, somewhat athletic and has steadily improved over his career. However, Prince will struggle with his leverage and technique early on, so do not expect him to start in year one, and potentially not for several years. But he has unteachable qualities that make him a good coaching target in the later rounds.
Round 7, Pick 249: LB Terrill Hanks, New Mexico State
Brooks: With the draft class going all offense after the opening round, Sam and I decide to finish out the final round with defensive selections. Though the Vikings retained linebacker Anthony Barr, the team could still use some depth at the position, and it’s usually customary that the team takes a linebacker every year. Though his combine wasn’t great, the film on Terrill Hanks is enough to convince me that he would be a moldable piece for Mike Zimmer to work with.
Smith: Hanks has made official visits with the Vikings, so he is clearly on their radar. While he is nowhere near the athlete Barr is or was, Hanks has experience as that sort of versatile chess piece. As such, he screams “Zimmer guy.”
Round 7, Pick 252: S B.J. Blunt, McNeese State
Brooks: With the losses of Andrew Sendejo and George Iloka, one would think that they could add another safety to the depth chart. After looking around the chart, we come up to BJ Blunt. He’s a small school player with some solid film but is likely closer to being an undrafted free agent. However, he does have measurables that Zimmer likes in his defensive backs, so the team could take a flier on him here to ensure another team doesn’t snap him up.
Smith: Blunt is my sleeper pick late in this draft. Teams have recently utilized tweener safeties to work in as quicker linebackers, albeit with mixed results. And given Blunt’s time at linebacker in the East-West Shrine Game, he could be a candidate for such a role. His production at McNeese State was ludicrous with over 100 tackles, 11 sacks and 20 tackles for loss his final season. Production is relatively meaningless in draft evaluation, but with Blunt, it at least shows a guy with a nose for disruption. That is worth a gamble in round seven, or potentially as a UDFA.
– Clayton R. Brooks II writes for Full Press Coverage and covers the Minnesota Vikings. Like and follow @ClaytonRBrooks2.
–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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