One week out from the draft and we have a little bit of an idea as to who the Vikings are targeting with the draft. Unsurprisingly, many of their official visits have been with offensive linemen, but they have run the gamut in terms of both position and draft projection.
Here are some of the more notable meetings the Vikings have had thus far.
LB Terrill Hanks, New Mexico State
Some years, it is apparent that a certain player is a “Zimmer guy.” In 2018, it was Mike Hughes. And lo and behold, the Vikings drafted Hughes. This year, that guy is Hanks, albeit in a more modest sense. Hanks is not a day one or even day two guy. However, he has many of the traits that Zimmer loves in his linebackers. Hanks is long and rangy, both as a tackler and in pass coverage. He moved around a lot in college, working inside, outside and as a pass rusher. He plays aggressively, but intelligently. Those characteristics fit Zimmer’s favorite players to a T. So while Hanks may go no earlier than round four, he seems a strong candidate to end up in purple.
RB Devine Ozigbo, Nebraska
Latavius Murray left a bit of a hole in the Vikings’ running back room. They have a couple of quicker backs behind Dalvin Cook, but no true bruising downhill runner to complement Cook’s quicker style. Ozigbo makes a lot of sense in Minnesota as such a complement. He is big and aggressive north and south while also bringing better than average pass catching ability.
DT Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State
Simmons could be a top-15 talent, but is hampered by questions about his recent knee injury. He tore his ACL preparing for the draft and now figures to slip into the back end of the first. There are no questions about his talent; Simmons is explosive and disruptive to the nth degree. But that knee will lead to hesitation, especially since the injury happened outside of game action. If the Vikings want to take Simmons, their best bet may be to move either up from their second-round pick or back from 18.
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WR Jalen Hurd, Baylor
Few prospects in this year’s class bring the intrigue that Hurd brings. His path to the NFL was an unusual one to say the least. He went from an uber-talented, very tall running back at Tennessee to a nearly 1,000-yard receiver at Baylor and now projects to be a day two pick as a wide receiver. He still has running back qualities in a 6-foot-5 receiver body, and also still has growing to do at receiver, given his relative newness to the position. Hurd has developed awfully well already, however, being used out of the slot and on the edge in the pass-happy Big 12. While a bit of a project initially, Hurd will bring versatility and a downfield threat early in his NFL career.
All the Offensive Linemen
The past few years, the Vikings have been in ripe position to draft offensive linemen in round one, yet ultimately went in another direction. This time, however, signs are strongly pointing towards them following through with addressing their greatest need early. At least two top 30 visits went to surefire first round linemen in Cody Ford and Andre Dillard. Then throw in a fringe first round candidate in Greg Little and a couple day two players in Nate Davis and Tytus Howard. Minnesota may not be an outright lock to draft a lineman day one, but they are certainly doing their due diligence in evaluating the position.
All the Tight Ends
Similarly, the Vikings have taken strong looks at a handful of the top tight ends in the class. Noah Fant is the most notable to earn a top 30 visit, given he will likely go in the first round. But the Vikings have also met with Jace Sternberger and Josh Oliver, a pair of athletic pass catchers who have drawn some eyes in the wake of the combine. Sternberger figures to be a day two pick, probably round two, while Oliver should be available late round three or round four.
–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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