I don’t have intimate knowledge of how the Vikings have stacked their draft board. I would try to break into Rick Spielman’s office, but my editors tell me that would be unethical. And illegal, they say, too. I considered contacting Miss Cleo for assistance but remembered it’s not 1998 anymore.
But while I unfortunately don’t know precisely what the Vikings plan to do in the NFL draft, I do feel I have a pretty good understanding of their needs and how they go about their draft business.
So because I can’t get enough of the draft and you can’t get enough of the draft, I decided to try my hand at a seven-round Vikings mock draft using FanSpeak.com’s handy draft simulator.
I’m aware that I might go 1-for-7 on this and I would be ecstatic if I hit two or three. I’m not too worried about that, though. The purpose of this exercise is simply to project how the draft might play out and which positions the Vikings will prioritize and when. This mock draft, which does not allow for trades, should also serve as a reminder that you can’t always get what you want.
So without further ado, here is my seven-round Vikings mock draft. Be sure to take a screen grab and mock me later, which I’m sure the Vikings will do after I strike out on all seven of these picks.
1st round (11th overall): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State. I was tempted to select Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker with this pick, like my colleague Mark Craig did in his entertaining mock draft in today’s newspaper. But I do believe that coach Mike Zimmer feels his secondary can be a lot better even though the Vikings did soar to seventh in the NFL in pass defense last season. Most mock drafts have the Vikings selecting Waynes here, and I see the logic. He has good tape and measurables and he ran well at the combine. And the Vikings must find a cornerback to pair with Xavier Rhodes for the long term, and I don’t think that player is on the roster now.
2nd (45th): A.J. Cann, G, South Carolina. Left guard should be a priority for the Vikings in this draft. Charlie Johnson really struggled last year and was released. Joe Berger was brought back, but ideally he would be their top backup on the interior. Perhaps David Yankey will be ready to compete this year, but he was not strong enough physically to do it as a rookie. The Vikings in recent years have tended to target interior lineman in the later rounds, so perhaps this might be too early for a guard. But Cann is a powerful run blocker who should be ready to play right away.
3rd (76th): Eric Rowe, S, Utah. With middle linebacker being a perennial need for the Vikings, I was hoping that TCU’s Paul Dawson would still be on the board here. He went a few picks earlier, though. But Rowe was still available, and he is an intriguing player. He was measured at 6-foot-1 at the combine and he was a top performer among defensive backs at every combine drill. He played cornerback last year, but he had been a safety before then. As I wrote for Tuesday’s newspaper, it has become difficult to find a good safety in the draft, but Rowe may have the skills to grow into one.
4th (110th): David Johnson, RB, Northern Iowa. Spielman is on the record as saying that he feels this is a really deep, talented class of running backs. I have been saying for several weeks now that I don’t believe the Vikings will trade Adrian Peterson. But that probably won’t keep them from taking a talented young back like Johnson, whom the Vikings reportedly hosted at Winter Park for a pre-draft visit. Johnson is 6-foot-1 and he tipped the scales at 224 pounds at the scouting combine. He impressed in drills there, too. In theory, he could be groomed to one day help replace Peterson.
5th (137th): Lynden Trail, DE, Norfolk State. At 6-foot-7 and 269 pounds, and with arms that are nearly 35 inches long, Trail looks a lot like the kind of defensive ends Zimmer had with the Bengals, including Michael Johnson, the free agent they failed to woo last month. Trail is said to be a raw prospect, and there are questions about how he will transition from small-school Norfolk State, where he had 19.5 sacks in three seasons. The Vikings, who also had Trail in for a Winter Park visit, need reinforcements at defensive end, and he might be a project worth taking on for Zimmer.
7th (228th): Amarlo Herrera, MLB, Georgia. I would have liked to address this need sooner, but after the second round of the draft the talent there really dropped off. Zimmer might feel the same way, too. At the combine, he remarked that it wasn’t a great class for middle linebackers, especially ones that can play all three downs. Herrera isn’t the fastest or most athletic prospect, and he’s a little short, but he is a smart, instinctive player who reportedly lined up the Bulldogs defense last season. He has some coverage ability, too, so perhaps he could develop into a three-down player.
7th (232nd): Austin Hill, WR, Arizona. This is another need I would have liked to have gotten to earlier, especially with such a deep, talented group of receivers. Alas, you can’t get to every need unless you make trades and move around the draft, something Spielman will try to do but I couldn’t in this trade-free mock draft. Hill is an interesting prospect. He is 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds, and the Vikings lack a receiver with his size. He missed all of 2013 with a torn ACL and his 2014 numbers weren’t close to his 2012 numbers. But it’s worth taking a flyer late on a receiver with his skill set.
Your turn. Use the draft simulator I linked to above and post your seven-round mock below.