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.


Mel Kiper Jr. sees plenty of receiving options for Vikings at No. 23

Posted by: under Vikings, NFL draft, Percy Harvin, Vikings draft Updated: January 16, 2013 - 10:56 AM

Draft chatter. Gotta love it.

We’re now inside of 100 days until the first round of this year’s NFL Draft begins – 99 days to be exact. But that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start speculating about what could happen in late April. This morning, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. presided over his first draft analysis teleconference of 2013. And naturally, we wanted to know who Kiper pegs as possible receiver targets for the Vikings with the No. 23 pick in the first round.

Kiper’s current mock draft – subject to change obviously – has the Vikings taking Baylor’s Terrance Williams. Here’s the quick analysis of that projection:

Last year, we saw both Josh Gordon and Kendall Wright taken out of Baylor, and Williams has the skill set to join them as a player drafted with the potential to make an early impact. Williams is first a player who can use his size and speed to stretch the field and take the top off a defense, but he also can make big plays on the sidelines, where he'll tiptoe and make the catches as well as any pass-catching target in the draft. Williams also will beat you with the ball in his hands as a nifty runner with good size. Minnesota needs a dependable pass-catcher next to Percy Harvin and Kyle Rudolph.

But in a draft that’s shaping up to be loaded with receiving talent, the Vikings should have plenty of options. In addition to Williams, Kiper points to Cal’s Keenan Allen and Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins as guys who could make sense and should be available when the Vikings go on the clock for the first time.

Kiper also highlighted Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson, who’s 6-foot-3, 205 pounds and a big-time playmaker. Patterson recorded 46 catches, 778 yards and five touchdowns in his lone season with the Volunteers after transferring from Hutchinson Community College. He’s also a threat as both a kick and punt returner. But the snag here is that he will likely be off the board well before the Vikings are slated to pick in the first round.

Said Kiper: “If they want to try to get him they’re probably going to have to move up into that middle of the first, early first to try to go ahead of, say, Miami at No. 12 who could be certainly looking for a wide receiver as well.”

And here’s one sleeper for you to keep tabs on through the Senior Bowl, the NFL Combine and all the other pre-draft festivities that are ahead: Marshall’s Aaron Dobson.

Dobson has good size (6-3, 200) and is quick but is still raw. He is most lauded for his leaping ability, body control and ability to go get the ball.

“Here’s the kind of kid who could be like a Brian Quick last year out of App State,” Kiper said. “I think Aaron Dobson is a guy [to watch]. He’s going to be at the Senior Bowl. He has size. They didn’t have a quarterback there that could get him the ball on a consistent basis. He’s very athletic. And when he’s had the ability to go up there and had a chance to make a play, he can make it. He’s a tough matchup for cornerbacks. I think Aaron Dobson’s a kid who you could see maybe in the late first-round discussion or certainly in the early- to mid-second round discussion. He’s a guy that people aren’t talking a lot about that could emerge.”

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