The Vikings off-season while approaching the NFL Draft has been fairly busy. At the end of the 2016-2017 season, the main needs for the team were on the offensive line and at running back.
After the departures of former first-round pick Matt Kalil and the face of the franchise in Adrian Peterson, these needs were all the more prominent. The Vikings also said goodbye to longtime defensive stud Chad Greenway as he retired after a great career.
Management has done a solid job filling some of the obvious holes on the team. With the signing of Pro Bowler Latavius Murray, the Vikings may have solved their problem at running back. The signings of Reilly Reiff and Mike Remmers helped to possibly solidify the offensive tackle positions. With Shariff Floyd‘s future in doubt due to an injury recently discovered, The Vikings also signed Datone Jones, formerly of the Packers. Various other signings have helped to fill in some areas of need on the depth chart such as tight end Nick Truesdell to replace Rhett Ellison, who left for the New York Giants.
Seeing as the flow of NFL Free Agent signings has slowed to a trickle, where are the Vikings likely to look in the draft with their first few picks?
How the Off-Season Has Altered the Minnesota Vikings Draft Needs
After the trade with Philadelphia for Sam Bradford prior to last season, the Vikings no longer have a first round pick. I talked briefly with Minnesota Vikings insider Mike Wobschall on Twitter, and he said that the team is not likely to trade into the first round at this point. While nothing is set in stone as Rick Spielman has a tendency to make trades on draft day, here are the current Vikings picks per round:
- second round, No. 48
- third round, No. 79
- third round, No. 86 (from Miami)
- fourth round, No. 121
- fourth round, No. 129 (from Miami)
- fifth round, No. 160
- sixth round, No. 199
- seventh round, No. 232
With the roster standing where it is currently, I believe that the Vikings will likely do one of three things with their pick at No.48. The Vikings will take Malik McDowell from Michigan State if he is available. They need another defensive tackle without clarity on Shariff Floyd and his future. McDowell has a lot of potential, but very well may not fall to the Vikings.
If McDowell is not an option and Curtis Samuel from Ohio State is still available, he is as good as gone. He has the ability to play both running back and receiver, both positions of need for the team. After losing the dynamic Cordarrelle Patterson, he could be a great fit. If neither he or McDowell is there, the Vikings go with the best available interior offensive lineman.
With the first of two third round selections, the Vikings will likely target a running back. If no back is taken with the 48th overall pick, expect the Vikings to look at either Joe Mixon from Oklahoma or Alvin Kamara from Tennesee. Depending on their availability, either could be a steal at No.79 in the draft.
At the 86th overall pick, I expect the Vikings to look into a wide receiver or interior offensive lineman depending on the prior selections. If they look to a receiver, Chris Godwin from Penn State or JuJu Smith-Schuster from USC are likely options. Both players present good-to-great value for a third round selection.
In rounds four or five, I expect the Vikings to look at a linebacker with at least one pick. Adding a player to compete with Kentrell Brothers and Emmanuel Lamur for Chad Greenway’s former position could be the move they choose. Assuming they look towards a linebacker at pick 121, they may look at Elijah Lee from Kansas State. If they look deeper in the draft to address the position, I expect the team to look at Ben Boulware out of Clemson.
The Vikings will be sure to add depth to the offensive line after injuries ravaged the unit last year. Look for more than one of the late round picks to be used on offensive line prospects.
A draft pick also will likely go towards the services of a safety. A safety with good coverage skills will complement the bruising Pro Bowler Harrison Smith in the secondary. Addressing this position earlier in the draft may end up being the priority if the right prospect is available.