Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Who's being linked to the Vikings in last-minute mock drafts?

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: May 7, 2014 - 9:01 AM

Just like you, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman can’t resist checking out the mock drafts.

“Everybody reads the mocks because we're tired of yelling at each other,” he said yesterday.

And if that’s the case, Spielman surely knows the expectation, at least from the media, is that he will select a quarterback with the eighth overall pick tomorrow night. A month ago, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was projected to wear purple. Last week it was UCF’s Blake Bortles.

Spielman said the Vikings aren’t afraid to take a first-round quarterback, even though the last one they took didn’t pan out. But he also said there are QBs he likes in pretty much every round, so he is prepared to be patient in the search for a passer and take the best player on the board at No. 8.

“You guys are missing some names on our spot at 8, I can tell you that,” Spielman said.

So a day out from the first round of the 2014 NFL draft, which names are being linked to the Vikings in mock drafts? Well, there’s still a lot of Bortles. A couple of defenders popped up, too.

Todd McShay, ESPN: Bortles. “The Vikings need a long-term answer at quarterback, but the presence of Matt Cassel (who did not play terribly last season) would allow for Bortles to sit for at least part of his rookie season, which is an ideal situation for him,” McShay wrote. “He has prototypical size and good mobility, and I think that issues with his mechanics are fixable. I also wouldn't be surprised if GM Rick Spielman trades again. He made a shrewd deal in 2012 to move down and add picks while still getting Matt Kalil and then traded back into the first round to get Harrison Smith. He was active again in last year's first round.”

Charley Casserly, NFL Network: Bortles. “Bortles needs a year to develop, and with Matt Cassel on the roster, the Vikings don’t have to play him in Year 1,” Casserly wrote.

Greg Bedard, Sports Illustrated: Bortles. “Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder are not the long-term answers at quarterback, but their presence allows Bortles to be developed slowly, as he needs to be,” Bedard wrote. “It’s the perfect situation for him, and for the Vikings.”

Dane Brugler, CBS Sports: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh. “Best player on the board or quarterback? The Vikings desperately need an identity at quarterback, something Derek Carr or Teddy Bridgewater could bring to Minnesota,” Brugler wrote. “But more of a ‘sure thing’ might be the direction here and Aaron Donald would be Mike Zimmer's new Geno Atkins.”

Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Network: C.J. Mosley, MLB, Alabama. “Bridgewater is a legitimate option here, but Mosley is one of the cleaner prospects in the draft and will have an immediate impact,” he wrote.

Ryan Van Bibber, SB Nation: Bortles (after trading down). “There would be nothing wrong with taking Bortles in the eighth spot,” he wrote. “But if a team were to come calling, trading down is almost too good of an option to reject. We threw in the trade back up to make this mock draft more confusing than the rest. They can sit Bortles for a year, unless Matt Cassel starts to play like himself, thanks to a relatively inexpensive fifth-year option in Bortles' rookie deal.”

Ourlads.com: Mosley. “CJ Mosley was the Butkus Award winner as the top linebacker in the country. Has good timing as an ‘A’ gap blitzer,” they wrote. “Disruptive and explosive. Instinctive with good lateral agility. A sideline to sideline productive player. Led the Tide with 108 tackles, including 9 tackles for loss. A four down linebacker -- plays run, covers the pass, and plays special teams. The only stickey wicket is an injury history that may knock Mosley out of the 1st round.”

Pat Kirwan, CBS Sports: Bortles (after trading down). “The Vikings move down, grab extra picks and still get the big athletic QB Norv Turner likes to coach,” Kirwan wrote. “The Vikings will pick up a corner and a safety in the next round.”

Charles Davis, NFL Network: Bortles. “Mosley is one of the top 10 players in the draft,” Davis wrote. “Vikes pass on QB (Teddy Bridgewater?) here to build defense.”

Peter King, Sports Illustrated: Donald. “Not buying the Blake Bortles buzz here, as much sense as it makes,” King wrote. “The Vikings just have too many quarterbacks rated too closely, and they know they can get one with the 40th pick. Donald has some freakish athletic traits. Not quite John Randle, but the man is quick and can get to the passer.”

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