Pro Football Network Sends Head Scratcher Pick to Vikings in 1st Round

Nov 21, 2020; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Northwestern Wildcats defensive back Greg Newsome II (2) breaks up a pass to Wisconsin Badgers wide receiver Chimere Dike (13) during the second half at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Mock drafts for the Minnesota Vikings have provided almost every viable scenario through mid-April. The most common positions selected for Minnesota at the 14th slot in mock drafts are offensive line and defensive line while some “outliers” like quarterback and wide receiver sneak into the mix, too.

The most frequent mock-drafted names for general manager Rick Spielman are Kwity Pate (EDGE), Alijah Vera-Tucker (OL), Gregory Rousseau (EDGE), Christian Darrisaw (OT), and Rashawn Slater (OL). When the post-draft analyses are written [if the Vikings stay at #14], betting money suggests that Spielman will indeed probably grab ones of the names. Paye and Slater arguably marry best player available and team roster need with efficacy.

So, when Matt Valdovinos from ProFootballNetwork.com sent a cornerback to Minnesota in his latest mock draft, the mere fact that the Vikings were allotted a corner wasn’t even the weirdest aspect about his prediction.

Valdovinos sent Greg Newsome (CB) from Northwestern to the Vikings.

This is odd for the aforementioned reason that head coach Mike Zimmer is suddenly deep at the cornerback spot with Cameron Dantzler, Patrick Peterson, Mackensie Alexander, Mike Hughes, and maybe Jeff Gladney on the roster. But the stranger part? Newsome is usually forecasted as a 2nd-Round selection. Sometimes Newsome even slips to the 3rd Round.

The days of the Vikings conducting bizarre activities in the NFL draft — like failing to get to the podium on time — are mostly over. Spielman runs a tight ship, and his picks are not typically eccentric like onlookers tend to experience with a team like the Las Vegas Raiders. And, make no mistake, Newsome would be an eccentric selection per scouting reports if he flew off the board at No. 14.

Here is Valdovinos’ rationale for Newsome-to-Minnesota:

With the upsetting news surrounding Jeff Gladney, the door is open for Mike Zimmer to draft a cornerback in the first round once again. Greg Newsome is an experienced and productive cornerback out of Northwestern and doesn’t possess the same medical concerns surrounding Caleb Farley. He has garnered comparisons to Green Bay’s Jaire Alexander — slightly undersized but a feisty competitor with an alpha mentality. Newsome could shine in Zimmer’s defense. The Vikings add a talented defensive back to a defense that struggled last year.”

Newsome could end up being the best cornerback of the 2021 class, but most football heads would decry a Top 15 status for the Northwestern alumnus. In a CBS Sports mock draft at the end of March, Newsome was the first pick in the 3rd Round of the draft.

What’s more, if Spielman is leaning toward choosing a player from Northwestern, it’s a wiser choice to find a method to grab Rashawn Slater — a close-to-sure-fire thing on the offensive line. Valdovinos says the 14th overall pick; CBS Sports said the 65th overall pick. Something’s gotta give.

Let’s take Valdovinos at his word for a moment. Pretend Zimmer loves the young man — fine and dandy. Minnesota should be able to trade out of the 1st Round altogether to snag Newsome later on. That would mean the trade package compensated to the Vikings is loaded with 2nd-Round goodies or future 1st-Round picks. The possibility of Spielman trading back is quite strong — the Vikings are usually successful in the 2nd Round — so two birds with one stone could be killed here. Trade back and get Newsome.

For fans, a cornerback at #14 would encounter eye-rolls due to the depth mentioned above. Yet, the only consistent cornerbacks slated to be on the team in 2022 are Dantzler and Gladney — and there is a real chance Gladney never plays for the Vikings again after his assault mess down in Texas. A cornerback in the 1st Round is not as silly as it sounds on the surface.

But it won’t be Newsome — at least not on the 14th rung of the draft ladder. The Vikings are more likely to grab Patrick Surtain II (Alabama), Caleb Farley (Virginia Tech), or Jaycee Horn (South Carolina) in Round 1 — if they take a cornerback at all.

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