The Draft is hours away, so it’s time to take a detailed look at each team’s acquisitions and losses and gauge a plan of attack for how they should approach the first three rounds. We’ll start with the lowly Cleveland Browns and work our way all the way up to the Super Bowl Champs in New England. Our beloved Vikings are getting a looksy this afternoon.
Team Needs: G, DT, S, LB, WR, RB, C, TE
Free Agent Losses: RB Adrian Peterson (cut), LB Audie Cole, TE Rhett Ellison, WR Charles Johnson, OT Matt Kalil, P Jeff Locke, CB Captain Munnerlyn, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, OT Andre Smith
Free Agent Acquisitions: WR Adam Thielen (resigned), CB Terrence Newman (resigned), DT Datone “M’Fn” Jones, RB Latavius Murray, OT Riley Reiff, OT Mike Remmers
See who we have the Vikes taking in the following Updated Mocks| Ultimate | Onebar | Lupagus
Potential Round 1 Targets: No Pick
Potential Round 2 Targets: G Dan Feeney, G/T Dion Dawkins, G/T Taylor Moton, G/T Antonio Garcia, TE Evan Engram, WR Zay Jones, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, S Budda Baker, S Marcus Maye, OLB TJ Watt, OLB Tim Williams, DT Malik McDowell, DT Caleb Brantley, DT Chris Wormley, RB Alvin Kamara, RB Joe Mixon, LB Raekwon McMillan, LB Jarrad Davis
Potential Round 3 Targets: WR Curtis Samuel, WR Cooper Kupp, WR Chris Godwin, LB Anthony Walker Jr., LB Kendall Beckwith, LB Alex Anzalone, G Dorian Johnson, C/G Pat Elflein, G/C Ethan Pocic, G/T Zach Banner, S Eddie Jackson, S Justin Evans, S Marcus Williams, TE Adam Shaheen, TE Bucky Hodges, TE Gerald Everett, RB D’Onta Foreman, RB Samaje Perine, RB Marlon Mack, RB Wayne Gallman, RB Kareem Hunt, DT Larry Ogunjobi, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, DT Montravious Adams
Plan of Attack:
The Vikings traded away their first round pick to get Sam Bradford. With Teddy Bridgewater looking like he’s going to be out at least one more season, the move now looks brilliant. Bradford played very well a season ago, especially when you consider the constant duress he was under. The Vikings addressed that issue in the offseason by bringing in tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers. While it’s been addressed, it’s far from solved. The Vikings still have a gaping, drippy hole at right guard. That is where they should focus with their first round pick. The guy they should be targeting is Indiana guard Dan Feeney. Feeney is 6’4, 305 lbs, and is tougher than a Mama Lucy cookie. He moves well for his size and should be considered a starter as soon as his name is announced. If he’s gone, the Purple could look at Temple’s Dion Dawkins. Dawkins is a guard/tackle tweener, so he brings added versatility to the Vikings offensive line, and boy could they have used that a year ago. He dominated at the Senior Bowl and is powerful, with a nice thick frame, and good footwork. He, like Feeney, would be starting from day one. Some other positions the Vikings could address in round 2, would be defensive tackle, safety, and linebacker. The Vikings were porous against the run last season, and need to beef up the middle of the line especially now that Shariff Floyd’s career is in jeopardy. They could look at Michigan St.’s Malik McDowell, Florida’s Caleb Brantley, or Michigan’s Chris Wormley. McDowell is a high energy player when motivated. That’s the reason he could be available this late, his play is very inconsistent. Brantley may be a little smaller than the Vikings would like, while Wormley can play the middle or swing over to end in certain situations. The Vikings still haven’t been able to find a solid partner for Harrison Smith at safety. They may look to do that here. The guy that would be a great fit would be Washington’s Budda Baker. This guy is nuts. He throws his body around with disregard for his own safety. He isn’t just a mad man back there, he can also cover. At linebacker the team could look at outside options like Wisconsin’s TJ Watt or they could look inside at Jarrad Davis or Ohio St.’s Raekwon McMillan. If they do take a linebacker here, it would go to show they don’t have much faith in last year’s 5th round pick of Kentrell Brothers.
The Vikings have two third round picks thanks to the Draft Day trade they made with the Dolphins last year. So assuming they get their guard in round 2, they can look to add a running back and a safety or defensive tackle here. The Vikings were wise to bring in former Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray. He has had success in this league and is a big back who can be the workhorse. They only signed him to a one year deal, so the Vikings will be definitely looking for a long term solution in the Draft. There should be plenty of options for them in the 3rd round. D’Onta Foreman is a power runner from Texas, Samaje Perine from Oklahoma, is a tough compactly build player, Marlon Mack is a dual threat back and put up nice numbers in South Florida’s offense, and Wayne Gallman is a long strider who helped the Clemson Tigers win the National Championship. Those are just a few of the guys the team should be looking at. There is another. That is Joe Mixon from Oklahoma. This guy is a better player than all the previous backs I mentioned. He is a powerful runner with great burst, and can catch the ball out of the backfield. But he’s a woman beater and that is a major concern. Mike Zimmer seemed to take a shining to Mixon at his Pro Day and even walked out with him. So there is obvious interest from the Purple. The final say on whether or not they draft him may ultimately end up coming from ownership. With their second third round choice, the Vikings could look at a defensive tackle or a safety. The Vikings run defense was pretty brutal a season ago, after being basically impenetrable for many years prior. Tom Johnson is more of a interior pressure guy and Shamar Stephen seemed to regress filling in for Shariff Floyd. Newly signed Datone Jones isn’t exactly a road block either, so the Vikes could be after a big bodied man here. A few names to keep your peepers on would be Auburn’s Montravious Adams, Charlotte’s Larry Ogunjobi, and Alabama’s Davlin Tomlinson. Personally, I like Adams from Auburn. This guy at times has looked like a first round pick with his combination of speed and power. But at other times he gets eaten up by blockers and man handled off the line. So if Mike Zimmer can coach some consistency into him, the Vikes could have a steal on their hands. As stated before the Vikings could also look at a safety in round 3. They still haven’t found the right guy to pair with Harrison Smith. Andrew Sendejo is average at best and last year’s preseason darling, Jayron Kearse, didn’t perform well when it counted. So names to be looking at here would be Florida’s Marcus Maye, Alabam’s Eddie Jackson, Utah’s Marcus Williams, or Texas A&M’s Justin Evans. Eddie Jackson is an interesting prospect. He comes from Alabama, so he’s always faced top collegiate competition. He is a former cornerback so clearly he knows how to cover. He also brings value as a punt returner. Jackson is coming off an injury, so he may still be available in the late third round. Justin Evans is another guy who could still be on the board. He is a top flight athlete who plays with a ton of heart. The biggest concern with Evans is his lack of bulk and overall size, but he can lay down some big hits for a man of his stature. Other areas the Vikings could address in round 3, would be tight end and linebacker, but expect some sort of combination of guard, defensive tackle, running back, and safety with their first three selections.