By Jason Wisniewski
As of the writing of this article on St. Patrick’s day, roughly one week after the start of the Free Agency tampering period the Minnesota Vikings draft needs are shaping up. The Vikings went into Free Agency with limited cap space and didn’t free up too much more but did manage to re-sign LB Anthony Barr, S Anthony Harris as well as add back their former DT Shemar Stephen in Free Agency. They were also able to get DE Everson Griffen to stay with the team by restructuring his contract. With that said the defense remains largely in tact in that team only lost DT Sheldon Richardson in Free Agency so at the moment they will return 10 of the 11 defensive starters from last season and it could be argued that Stephen is an upgrade in terms of run defense. With a little over $6 million in cap space and about $3 million needed to sign their rookie class it doesn’t look like the Vikings will do much else in Free Agency unless they get another contract restructure or make a trade or release. Even if they do the team needs largely will not change in terms of needing Offensive lineman because most of the starting caliber Offensive lineman have already been signed in Free Agency and the best they can do there now is get a borderline starter/depth player. With the Vikings electing not to fill their biggest need in Free Agency it paints them into a corner in the upcoming draft to have to draft offensive lineman, especially on the interior since they currently have just one Guard on the roster in backup Danny Isidora.
Luckily for the Vikings this draft class is a good one for offensive lineman and it’s about 2 and a half to 3 rounds deep full of projected day one starter types. As it stands right now the Vikings would need 2 offensive line starters to complete their starting 5 plus depth. Let’s assume for the purpose of this exercise that they sign one depth player in Free Agency and only need to draft 2 O-line starters.
Where the Vikings Pick
As it stands right now the Vikings have picks mainly in the middle of each round with the exception of 3 day three comp picks. Assuming they would try to find starters somewhere between Rds 1 & Rd 3 let’s take a look at the board might look like when the Vikings are on the clock.
Who’s available when the Vikings pick?
Many of the teams picking ahead of the Vikings in the 1st rd signed Offensive lineman in Free Agency meaning that is very possible on of the top 3 or 4 offensive line prospects falls to the Vikings at pick #18. It’s a given that 3-4 QBs will be selected ahead of the Vikings as well as likely at least 6-7 defensive players.
Best Player Available will match Team Need
This draft is a deep class in many areas but there won’t be a generational type player on the board at #18. This means that the Vikings should have similar grades on the top O-line prospects left vs prospects who play other non O-line positions. Let’s say the Vikings top 3 players remaining in ranking on their board are all still available and those players are LB Devin White, OL Jawaan Taylor & OL Garrett Bradbury. The Vikings can feel comfortable taking either one of the O-lineman because even if they had a slightly higher grade on Devin White it would not be an earth shattering difference and they could go with the need pick without feeling like they are reaching. The same can be said in both Rd 2 & Rd 3.
All in all there should be no reason why the Vikings can’t come out of the draft with 2 day one O-line starters.