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.


Bortles, not Bridgewater, now the popular Vikings pick in mock drafts

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: April 30, 2014 - 10:03 AM

A lot has changed in the sports world since the last time I compiled whom NFL mock drafters were projecting to the Vikings for the blog. The Wild are one Game 7 win away from their first series win in more than a decade. Donald Sterling is no longer welcome in the NBA. And Teddy Bridgewater is no longer worthy of a top-10 pick, at least in the eyes of some draft analysts.

Remember the last time I did this mock draft roundup? Five of the 10 draft analysts I randomly picked had the Vikings selecting the Louisville quarterback with the eighth overall pick.

Now? He is allegedly plummeting down draft boards, and the mock drafters are scrambling to account for it. Only one of the 10 analysts I picked is projecting Bridgewater to the Vikings now.

So who are all these guys mocking to the Vikings instead? Start scrolling to see a small sample.

Mel Kiper, ESPN: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida. “Obviously, the current tandem of Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder isn't the long-term answer,” Kiper wrote. “On the other hand, the presence of both provides a reasonable basis for drafting a quarterback, because there's no need to simply force-feed a rookie the starting role out of the gate. I think Bortles will benefit from some time in the system before he's forced to handle first-team reps. I'll say again that Bortles is a very good athlete with excellent pocket instincts and can benefit from his ability to create some yards with his legs, as we've seen from a few other young quarterbacks recently.

Brian Baldinger, NFL.com: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA. “Mike Zimmer has always done it through defense everywhere he's been,” Baldinger wrote. “As much as they need a quarterback, Barr would be a great fit for Zimmer. He's only played linebacker for two years, but I think his upside is all in the NFL. Two years from now I think he'll be a Pro Bowl player.”

Pat Kirwan, CBS Sports: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama. “Why take a quarterback here and ignore a position where the Vikings need a day one starter?” he wrote. “They can come back in the second round for [LSU quarterback] Zach Mettenberger.”

Dan Kadar, SB Nation: Bortles. “Minnesota has one of the poorest quarterback situations in the NFL,” he wrote. “If Bortles is there with the eighth pick -- and he may not be -- he should be the choice for the Vikings. No other position will make as much of an impact on the franchise.”

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.”

Don Banks, Sports Illustrated: Bridgewater. “How low will Teddy go? That's the popular question that seems to be sparking wide-ranging debate as this year's longer-than-usual draft season unfolds,” Banks wrote. “While some mocks have him even falling out of the first round these days, I can't see how that worst-case scenario unfolds, and I'm pushing back against the anti-Bridgewater movement. The Vikings seem like a nice fit.”

Aaron Wilson, Baltimore Sun: Donald. “Donald has an array of pass-rushing moves, including a great swim move for a shorter defensive lineman. Donald isn't small, just short,” he wrote. “He overpowers blockers with an impressive charge and dominated at the Senior Bowl. The Vikings have moved on from Kevin Williams and could use a player like Donald to plug into his spot.”

Charles Davis, NFL.com: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama. “So much discussion about a QB going here,” he wrote, “but with new head coach Mike Zimmer, a longtime defensive coordinator, in town, a defender gets the nod.

Thor Nystrom, Rotoworld: Bortles. “Anthony Barr and Aaron Donald will be discussed, and Peter King reported that the club won’t take a QB here, but I’m banking on Mike Zimmer and Norv Turner not being content with their futures in Matt Cassell’s shaky grip,” Nystrom wrote.

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.”

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