Let’s see. Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackenzie Alexander no longer will be patrolling the Vikings secondary. Stefon Diggs shuffled his way to Buffalo, leaving the team Minneapolis Miracle-less at wide receiver.
And with a quarterback who can get skittish as the pocket closes in, an upgrade at left tackle would be a big help. Those positions are the Vikings’ primary needs in the NFL draft, which begins Thursday night with the first round
Not surprisingly, those in the mock draft business have zeroed in on those three positions when predicting what General Manger Rick Spielman and Co. might do when it’s time for the Vikings to select. They have two first-round picks – Nos. 22 and 25 – so a couple of needs could be addressed Thursday.
Here are looks at a handful of mock drafts as they relate to the Vikings:
CBS Sports features a couple of mocks, and Ryan Wilson kicks it off with the Vikings selecting LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson at No. 22. “Jefferson was dominant in the slot last season for LSU,’’ Wilson writes, “and the hope is that he can replicate that production in Minnesota.’’ Three picks later, Wilson sees the Vikings taking TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney to fill an immediate need. “Gladney, who plays much bigger than his size [5-10, 191 pounds], will have a chance for playing time on Day 1.
Wilson’s colleague at CBS Sports, R.J. White, sees the Vikings picking Utah cornerback Jaylon Johnson at No. 22, then trading the No. 25 pick to the Chargers for the Nos. 37 and 71 selections. “The Vikings like drafting cornerbacks early in the draft when they don't need one, so in an offseason where they lost three of their top players at the position, they absolutely have to take at least one in the first round,’’ White writes.
Yahoo Sports features three writers – Eric Edholm, Matt Harmon and Liz Loza – offering their mock drafts, and here’s what they say about the Vikings: Edholm: USC offensive tackle Austin Jackson at No. 22, TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney at No. 25 Harmon: LSU edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson at No. 22, LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton at No. 25. Loza: Baylor wide receiver Denzel Mims at No. 22, Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs at No. 25.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has the Vikings filling needs, picking Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk at No. 22 and Utah’s Johnson at No. 25. You’ll need a subscription to see Kiper’s full mock draft on ESPN-Plus, which requires a subscription..
Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated projects the Vikings taking Jefferson at No. 22 and Johnson at No. 25. Of Johnson, who’s recovering from shoulder surgery, Breer sees value but risk. “Some teams don’t have Johnson among the top seven or eight players at the position,’’ he writes, “and there’s obvious injury concern (he probably won’t be healthy until camp).’’
The Sporting News has a three-round mock draft by Vinnie Iyer, and he has the Vikings taking Gladney at No. 22 and Clemson receiver Tee Higgins at No. 25.
USA Today's Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz has the Vikings using the 22nd pick on Johnson and the 25th on Ezra Cleveland, an offensive tackle from Boise State, who gets compared to the Brian O'Neill pick in 2018.
Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report projects WR/CB, with Aiyuk at No. 22 and Gladney at No. 25.
NFL.com has an octet of writers offering their projections, and six of the 16 Vikings selections were receivers (Jefferson 4, Higgins 2), six were cornerbacks (LSU’s Fulton 3, Johnson 2 and Clemson’s A.J. Terrell 1), three were Penn State edge rusher Yetur Gross-Matos and one was Boise State offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland.
For some in-house predictions, check out Mark Craig’s first-round projections, plus Ben Goessling’s full seven-round mock draft of the Vikings’ 12 picks. Their picks don’t necessarily match what many national writers are projecting.