Most of the contributors at Vikings Territory have published their first-round mock drafts, and the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine is officially over. Some players boosted their stock with impressive 40-yard dash times, while others hurt their value with poor showings in on-field drills. How did our mock first-round picks do in Indianapolis?
Trae Waynes, CB – Michigan State
Adam’s Mock Draft
Coming into the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine, Michigan State’s Trae Waynes was Mike Mayock’s top-ranked cornerback. After Monday’s workouts, Waynes solidified his status as this year’s best secondary prospect.
Waynes ran the fastest 40-yard dash among defensive backs, clocking in at a blazing 4.31 seconds. His athletic ability was on full-display during the vertical jump and broad jump, where he measured 38″ and 10’2″ respectively. As soon as Waynes crossed the finish line in the 40-yard dash, Twitter blew up, proclaiming the former Spartan a “top-10” pick in this year’s draft.
As Adam noted in his first mock draft, getting the “best press corner to pair up with Xavier Rhodes could be the next step in putting Mike Zimmer’s defense over the top.” But, what makes Waynes such an exciting prospect?
First, it’s his frame — Waynes is a lanky, long-armed cornerback with the length to defend the NFC North’s taller wide receivers. In his final two seasons, Waynes allowed just two touchdown receptions, a testament to his tremendous body control and coverage skills in 50/50 situations.
Waynes is also well-coached, having played under former Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi. He’s rarely out of position, and has the acceleration and leverage to break on passes anywhere on the field. He’ll need the coaching once he enters the NFL, though, as he makes up for poor footwork with athleticism and tends to grab opposing receivers in coverage — similar to Xavier Rhodes coming out of Florida State.
As ESPN’s Todd McShay said today, Waynes could go as early as 11th-overall to the Vikings.
Shaq Thompson, OLB – Washington
|Bennett, Michael||DE||Non-injury related||________||DNP||N/A||Probable|
Unlike Waynes, Shaq Thompson didn’t “wow” scouts and analysts at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine. Labeled this year’s most versatile prospect, Thompson came into the week’s workouts with something to prove — that he was as athletic in person as he was on tape.
As the table above shows, the Junior out of Washington measured in at 6’0″, weighing 228 pounds — smaller for an outside linebacker. Thompson’s lack of size may force him to make the move to safety. Teams will need to decide whether Thompson is a “tweener”, or, a player that can make an impact at multiple positions on the field in regular or sub-packages.
In his final season with the Huskies, Thompson recorded 81 tackles, forced two fumbles, and returned an interception for a touchdown. He consistently made plays in coverage, and could be an ideal fit as Chad Greenway’s replacement at weakside linebacker in the near future.
Thompson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.64 seconds, slower than many scouts had predicted. On film, he displayed explosive speed and quickness, but lacked that same burst on the field in Indianapolis. Although he showcased fluidity and smooth hips during on-field positional drills, Thompson’s pedestrian measurables are a concern moving forward.
Anthony Barr was a similarly confounding prospect in 2014, having played just two years of football at UCLA. The Vikings selected Barr with the 9th-overall pick, and Mike Zimmer turned the raw player into the Vikings’ best linebacker. If Rick Spielman and the front office take another chance in this year’s draft, the Vikings could potentially field two of the league’s most athletic linebackers in 2015.
Brandon Scherff, OG – Iowa
Brent’s Mock Draft
In last year’s 2014 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected Notre Dame’s Zack Martin with the 16th-overall pick. A left tackle in college, Martin quickly made the transition to guard with the Cowboys and finished the season as one of the game’s better interior offensive linemen.
Like Martin before him, Iowa’s Brandon Scherff will most likely make the transition to guard in the NFL. At the Combine, Scherff ran the 40-yard dash in 5.05 seconds, showcasing the athleticism that made him a deft pass blocker in college. He also measured in at 6’5″ and 319 pounds — enough size to move defenders in the run game.
As we all know, Matt Kalil struggled in 2014, battling through a knee injury and a slew of mental lapses. He shored up his game in the latter half of the season, as he didn’t allow a sack in the final 5 games. With the needle trending upward, Kalil will get one more shot to prove he’s worth a long-term contract with the Vikings.
That decision will force Scherff to kick inside if drafted by the Vikings, where he may be better suited as a nasty, run-blocking specialist. Right now, Scherff struggles as a pass protector, especially against quicker edge rushers. He’s more of a mauler than a finesse, technically sound left tackle, and those deficiencies would be masked with a shift to left guard. In the trenches, he’d have the luxury of a smaller “platform”, where his exceptional strength and lateral footwork would shine.
As the draft’s highest-rated offensive linemen, Scherff may be gone before the Vikings select with the 11th-overall pick. If he’s available, Rick Spielman and the front office may seriously consider pulling the trigger — it would result in an immediate improvement to the team’s run game and pass protection.
DeVante Parker, WR – Louisville
Carl’s Mock Draft
Like the 2014 NFL Draft class, this year’s group of wide receivers is extremely deep and talented. Alabama’s Amari Cooper and West Virginia’s Kevin White are widely considered the top two receivers, but Louisville’s DeVante Parker quietly put together an impressive season last year.
He finished the injury-shortened 2014 season with 43 catches for 855 yards and 5 touchdowns, averaging 19.9 yards per catch. As Carl highlighted earlier this month, Parker possesses an excellent release off the line of scrimmage, as well as soft hands and a wide catch radius. With Teddy Bridgewater as his quarterback from 2011-2013, Parker used that skill set to catch 113 passes for 1,920 yards and 28 touchdowns.
At the Combine, Parker ran the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds, finishing behind Cooper and the surprisingly fast White. However, he jumped 36.5″ inches during the vertical, using his 6’3″ frame and 33-1/4″ arms to showcase his lanky frame.
As mentioned above, Parker and Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater played three seasons together at Lousville, and the former Cardinals receiver had a chance to meet with Vikings officials during the Combine. “That would be really good to reunite with (Bridgewater),” Parker said last Thursday. “We’ve got a good connection. That would be a good thing.”
Who Will We Pick Next?
It’s still too early to tell who the Vikings will select with the 11th-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, but it’s always enjoyable to see how our potential first-round picks performed at the Combine. We’ll update our Mock Drafts throughout the offseason as free agency approaches.
Check back soon for the latest Vikings news and exciting changes to all of the Vikings Territory Mock Drafts!