At this time of year, everyone is an NFL draft expert. Mock drafts are toted around like bibles. Fans desperate to see their team select a difference-maker cling tight to every word ESPN Insiders Mel Kiper Jr. or Todd McShay say. The buildup only gains steam as we get closer to the April 27-29 draft in Philadelphia.
It’s the most inexact science — and the most intoxicating.
The Vikings don’t have a first-round pick this year — not today, anyway — but the enthusiasts are no different than their NFL draft-obsessed peers. No one wants a bust (Troy Williamson) or a disaster (Dimitrius Underwood) on their hands. Everyone is hopeful the next big game-changer is just a phone call away for GM Rick Spielman.
The Vikings continue to expand on the list of players invited to the team facilities, and we have identified the team’s five biggest needs. There is still a lot of ground work and many conversations to be had before the Vikings settle on a final NFL Draft board.
That hasn’t stopped national writers from projecting the team’s picks in various mock drafts. Here’s what we’ve seen projected so far for the Vikings first pick in Round 2. Note: ESPN Insider is premium paysite.
Round 2, 48th pick:
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
The Vikings got only one catch out of their first-round pick from last year (Laquon Treadwell), and so they could use another wideout. Smith-Schuster had an inconsistent season, but he has No. 1 potential. He had 20 touchdowns the past two seasons.
ESPN's Todd McShay: Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida
A highly disruptive interior run defender, Brantley posted 15 total tackles for loss the past two seasons. He also showed more flashes as a pass-rusher than his 5.5 sacks since 2015 would suggest.
Draftwire: Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky
The biggest needs for the Vikings are along the offensive line, and while this year’s class is one of the weakest in recent memory in terms of top prospects, there could still be some attractive options on Day 2. Lamp would be a steal here, with his ability to play any position up front and a track record of success when given the chance to face top competition. MORE: See every Vikings pick projected by Draftwire.
FoxSports.com: Dan Feeney, G, Indiana
NFL.com: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State