By Jason Wisniewski
Vikings Spin is back with new mock drafts now that the Free Agency period dust has settled! Yes the Vikings can and will most likely still sign Free Agents and make roster moves up through September before they take the field in their Week 1 regular season match up but those moves will be dictated by what they do in the upcoming draft just like the first wave of Free Agency has now shaped what they can and will do in the draft.
With all that said, let’s draft!
This draft will assume a Trade of CB Trae Waynes to the Colts in exchange for Rd 2 #27 either before the draft or after Rd 1 if/when the Colts miss out in the 1st rd CB of their choice. After that the Vikings sign a less expensive veteran CB such as Morris Claiborne or Captain Munnerlyn to fill his roster spot and provide veteran depth to the CB unit in case of an injury and/or if Mike Hughes isn’t 100% to start the season.
Trade Rd 1 #18 to Houston for Rd 1 #23 & Rd 3 #22
Risner’s impressive performance at the Senior Bowl cemented him as a likely late 1st rd pick. His best fit in the pros will be at Guard although he does have the ability to play Tackle and Center as well. The Vikings will love his toughness & versatility and he will start at LG from day one as a plug n play type that will instantly improve the Vikings O-line & Offense in both the run game & passing attack.
The Vikings have Riley Reiff for 2019 but they may want to move on from him in 2020 for cap reasons and to get younger at the position. Cajuste can come in as a rookie and be the team’s swing tackle while he learns the ins and outs of the NFL. He’s good enough to play right now if they need him to so the depth will be great this year and hopefully after a year on the bench he can take over at one of the tackle spots as the starter in 2020. Cajuste possesses the build and athletic traits to be a very good NFL tackle and is also a nice fit in a zone scheme. He also has the build to play inside as a rookie if the Vikings need him to fill a spot due to injury in order to get the best 5 O-lineman on the field.
Built like a RB Samuel reminds me a lot of Percy Harvin & Golden Tate after the catch as a ball carrier as he is both elusive and violent as a runner. Truly a special player when it comes to YAC. He’s also one of the most refined route runners in this draft class and ran an impressive 4.48 at the combine so he has good speed. Samuel would be a tremendous weapon for Kirk Cousins in the slot with his ability to turn short passes into big plays. He would also make teams either stop double teaming Stefon Diggs & Adam Thielen or really make them pay for continuing to do so. Instant upgrade at WR3. He also adds value as a dynamic return man on Special Teams.
Saunders would give the Vikings added juice as an explosive 3 tech who can rush the passer without losing any size or stoutness against the run. Mike Zimmer said he wanted to have bigger DT’s this season and the Vikings showed that when they signed back Shemar Stephen. Saunders has the build of a Nose Tackle but his skill set suggests he’d be better suited as a 3 technique with how he uses his quickness & agility to be a disruptive presence on the interior D-line.
Kyle Rudolph will be a Free Agent in 2020 and the Vikings could look to get younger & faster at the position. Oliver could come in in 2019 and be Rudolph’s understudy and also see the field quite a bit in 2 & 3 TE sets as a “move” TE with his speed, athleticism & route running ability. Oliver has plus ball skills that teams need in their TE and shows strength as a blocker as well although he’ll need to refine his technique in that department.
Everson Griffen was restructured to stay for 2019 but his cap number will be above $13 million for 2020 and Stephen Weatherly will be an UFA so the Vikings will likely only be able to keep one of their veteran DEs in 2020. With that being the case it makes sense to draft & develop a talented Edge rusher now and prepare him for a bigger rotational role for 2020. Miller has the athletic traits the Vikings typically look for in their DE’s in terms of size & speed and Vikings D-line coach Andre Patterson has worked wonders with mid rd picks in the past at DE.
With Latavius Murray gone the Vikings need a RB that can get the tough yards on the goal line and in short yardages situations. Barnes checks that box and like Murray is also a nice receiver out of the backfield and does a nice job in pass protection so he can play on any down. Barnes would round out the Vikings RB room nicely.
Stidham has nice traits in that he possesses good mobility and had a nice 2017 season making clutch plays and showing the intangibles you need from a QB. He had a poor 2018 which dropped him to a day 3 pick but a lot of that can be attributed to a horrible team around him. Perhaps the Vikings can rehab him and develop him as a #3 QB.
A combine snub the 6’3 200 lbs Johnson is said to be able to run in the 4.4’s. If he shows that on his pro day he’ll have a good shot at being drafted in Rd 7. He went to a tiny school so the level of competition was just not good but with traits like this you can see the Vikings wanting to develop him into a Javon Kearse type of “Big Nickel” role in addition to being a backup Safety.
With Kentrell Brothers in the final year of his contract the Vikings will need to add another backup LB and special teams player. They had a private Top 30 visit with Connelly and LB’s coach Adam Zimmer attended the Wisconsin Pro Day so they appear to possibly like him for that role. He’s got decent speed and size and could either contribute on special teams as a rookie or spend a year on the practice squad.