While it is only January it’s never to early to start thinking ahead for the Vikings 2014 NFL Draft. Below are predictions on what the Vikings could do with each of their 8 selections in the May’s draft. It is no secret that Minnesota has quite a few needs to fill and depending on how free agency rolls out come May half of these picks could be irrelevant, which is why this will be a monthly occurrence leading up to draft day. Below is our official January predictions.

Round 1 | Blake Bortles QB, UCF


As of now Bortles is getting run as the possible 1st overall selection. While I think it is highly unlikely he goes 1 he would be good value to the Vikings at pick 8. Bortles is an athletic big bodied quarterback with a strong arm and good accuracy. The UCF quarterback was completely off the radar before leading UCF to a 12-1 record in 2013 and putting up 25 TDs and 3,500+ yards. While I think Bortles is probably the riskiest pick out of the top 4 quarterbacks (Manziel, Bridgewater, Carr, Bortles) he might have the highest ceiling long-term. The Vikings did pretty well back in 1999 when they drafted another certain UCF quarterback in round 1, so if Bortles slides to pick 8, it might just be worth the risk.

Risk Level: Moderate

Round 2 | Xavier Su’a-Filo G, UCLA


Left guard Charlie Johnson will be a free agent and I think everyone would be shocked if he was brought back. While he had his moments he is a below average guard that could be easily upgraded. Su’a-Filo is a two time All-Pac 12 selection and instantly became one of the top guard prospects the second he declared for the draft. Th UCLA guard has the experience and athletic ability that could make him a starter week 1 as a rookie.

Risk Level: Low

Round 3 | Yawin Smallwood LB, UConn


The Vikings tried quite a few different inside linebacker options in 2013, using Erin Henderson, Micheal Mauti, Desmond Bishop, and Audie Cole just to name a few. While Cole and Mauti are still intriguing it might be time to spend an early pick on a possibly long-term solution. Enter Smallwood, who led the Huskies in 2013 with 118 tackles and four sacks, adding 9.5 tackles for loss, 10 passes defended and one interception. Not only does he have great size at 6’4, 240 lbs he has the speed and athleticism to go with it.

Risk Level: Low

Round 3 | Aaron Colvin CB, Oklahoma


The Vikings looked to have scored with last years 1st round corner Xavier Rhodes. Rhodes really came on at the end of the year and looks to be a piece they can build around in the secondary. But lets be honest, behind him the cupboard is pretty bare. Chris Cook is a free agent and even if he surprisingly returned I can’t see him as a reliable starter. Colvin is a big physical corner who could be a tweener that could play either corner OR safety in the NFL, which adds some needed depth at both spots. The Oklahoma defensive back still has some polishing to do in his game and needs to eliminate mental mistakes, but for a guy with his talent and size getting him near the end of round 3 would be a quality pick.

Risk Level: High

Round 4 | Kareem Martin DE, North Carolina


The Vikings could lose both Jared Allen and Everson Griffen to free agency this offseason leaving Brian Robison at defensive end … and not much else. Depending on how the draft shakes out this could be a position the Vikings look at a few times. If they could get a guy like Kareem Martin in round 4 it could be their steal of the draft. Martin has all the tools and ability to be a star, he put up 11.5 sacks in 2013 and the second half the season was in all out beast mode. Martin could contribute early in his career and possibly start sometime in his rookie campaign.

Risk Level: Moderate/Low

Round 5 | Charles Sims RB, West Virginia


Toby Gerhart is a free agent and is pretty much a lock to not be back. Asiata filled in nicely at the end of the year, but he didn’t really wow anyone or give the warm and fuzzies that he can be a viable back-up or change of pace back on a regular basis. With a pretty stacked running back group in 2013 the Vikings could wait until the mid to later rounds and still get a quality back. Sims is an all-around back who runs well and catches the ball well out of the backfield. He topped 1,000 yards and 10+ touchdowns in 2013 on a less than great West Virginia offense. He has drawn comparisons to Matt Forte and would be a great compliment to Adrian Peterson.

Risk Level: Low

Round 6 | Aaron Murray QB, Georgia


No this isn’t a mistake, i’m well aware I have the Vikings getting Blake Bortles in round 1. While the Vikings might not be a team that can afford to double dip at quarterback it is almost necessary. If not for an injury this past year Murray would have most likely been selected in the first 3 rounds. He would be a good project quarterback and insurance for selecting another 1st round quarterback. Worst case the Vikings lock up their back-up quarterback position for the next handful of years. The Redskins double dipped 2 years ago and it panned out pretty well for them so far.

Risk Level: High

Round 7 | Ty Zimmerman S, Kansas St.


Zimmerman is a smart safety that has been one of the best in the Big 12 the past few years. He won’t wow you on tape, but he does do all the little things well. Like cornerback the Vikings need to stock up on depth. While the Kansas St. defensive back might not crack the starting lineup he is a smart tough player who could end up being a special teams stud early in his career.

Risk Level: Low

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