Next Thursday night, the Minnesota Vikings will be selecting their next rookie class with the hopes of them being the final pieces to a championship run in 2019. In addition to adding young talent, the team must also create cap room to sign them. Several names have been floated throughout the past several weeks in trade rumors, with Trae Waynes being at the top of the list.
The Vikings have most of the pieces in place to compete for a championship right now. If they are to reach that goal in 2019, they could very well take a more aggressive approach than we’ve seen in recent years.
With this in mind, here is the latest Vikings mock draft, constructed and simulated on Fanspeak.com. Once again, Waynes will be featured in a trade scenario.
Round 1, Pick #18: DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson
Passed On: OT Jawan Taylor, OT/G Cody Ford
With several top offensive linemen still on the board, I elect to put off grabbing one for the time being, knowing that Rick Spielman would do the exact same thing. With a number of defensive linemen going off the board early, Christian Wilkins had to be the choice here. He would be an excellent fit alongside Linval Joseph. He’s constantly moving uphill and is a disruptor in opposing backfields. He plays both the run and pass well and should be a starter from the get-go, filling a key need in the process.
Round 1, Pick #25 (traded Trae Waynes, Rd 3, #17, and future Rd 2 pick to Philadelphia Eagles): OT Andre Dillard, Washington
Passed On: WR Marquise Brown, C Garrett Bradberry
If Spielman loves one of these linemen enough and they slip below a certain draft range, he could make this move. Given that the interior line talent pool is deeper than tackle, I believe Dillard would be the pick in this situation. Though his run blocking can be a question mark, he will be an upgrade in pass protection, which is critical to improving the play of quarterback Kirk Cousins. He’s also a pick for the future as he could allow the Vikings to move on from current incumbent Riley Reiff after 2019 to clear cap space.
Round 2, Pick #28 (trade with Los Angeles Chargers): TE Irv Smith, Alabama
Passed On: CB Trayvon Mullen, G Michael Deiter
Despite still having needs on the offensive line and now cornerback, Irv Smith is way too good of a value to bypass here. This is another pick for the future with Kyle Rudolph due to become a free agent after 2019. For the upcoming season, they would make a great pairing. He ranks as one of the top three tight ends in this draft class. His blocking isn’t as strong as T.J Hockenson’s and his potential isn’t as high as Noah Fant’s, but his overall talents give the Vikings and Cousins a weapon that will create mismatches for opponents.
Round 3, Pick #27 (from Los Angeles Chargers): CB Isaiah Johnson, Houston
Passed On: S Jaquan Johnson, DE Jachai Polite
With trading Trae Waynes earlier and questions around Mike Hughes (injury) and Holton Hill (suspended four games), corner has become a need. Fortunately, one of the prospects the Vikings have already shown interest in is sitting near the top of the draft board as they come up to pick. He will need work as he has only recently switched to the position, but has several traits that can help him succeed at the position. Mike Zimmer specializes in developing young cornerbacks and could help Johnson reach his full potential.
Round 4, Pick #11 (traded pick #18, Rd 6, #17 to Baltimore Ravens): G Nate Davis, Charlotte
Passed On: WR Anthony Johnson, LB Blake Cashman
With interior offensive line talent thinning out, I accept the Ravens offer to move up to number 11. I jump at the chance to grab another rumored draft target. Davis has the athletic ability and strength to play in a number of different blocking schemes, including the zone-blocking scheme that Minnesota will be running. May not start right away, but he could take over a spot during his rookie season.
Round 6, Pick #36: WR Preston Williams, Colorado State
Passed On: RB Jalin Moore, S Lukas Denis
With most key needs already filled, it’s time to go looking for potential diamonds in the rough. Enter Preston Williams. Despite an underwhelming Pro Day, his film shows he has the tools to be successful at the next level. Playing in a pro-style system provides him with a leg up, but he brings red flags with him, which is a big reason he’s still on the board this late in the draft.
Round 7, Pick #33: S Andrew Wingard, Wyoming
Passed Up: S D’Cota Dixon, LB Sione Takitaki
With the departures of Andrew Sendejo and George Iloka, Minnesota could use another safety to replenish some depth at the position. Wingard could be a candidate. He doesn’t possess great athleticism or speed but has the intelligence to be in the right place at the right time. A box safety; plays just well enough in space and can tackle.
Round 7, Pick #36: RB Alex Barnes, Kansas State
Passed On: LB Dashaun Davis, QB Brett Rypien
With there already being three quarterbacks on the roster and not many interesting linebacker prospects on the board, I choose to take a power runner in Alex Barnes. A big back with limited abilities to create something when things break down. He fits best as a short-yardage/third-down kind of back for now; will need to improve his blocking if he wants to be anything beyond that.