NFL Draft Week has finally arrived.
In just a few short days all of the questions spawn from speculation, discussion and news reports will be given answers over the course of three wildly unpredictable days. The Minnesota Vikings will enter an interesting situation without a first-round pick and three selections (48, 79, 86) in the top 100.
With these three early-round picks along with a pair of fourth-rounders and three other Day-3 selections, the Vikings have a number of holes to fill and edges to smooth over. This guide aims to find the middle ground on “need” and “value” in order to best project how Minnesota will operate this coming weekend.
Current Depth Chart: Sam Bradford (Starter); Taylor Heinicke; Case Keenum; Teddy Bridgewater (Injured Reserve)
Vikings Engagement List: Brad Kaaya (Miami); Jerod Evans (Virginia Tech); Patrick Mahomes II (Texas Tech); Mitch Leidner (Minnesota); Jack Nelson (Winona State); Drew Bauer (Minnesota-Duluth)
Potential Draft Solutions: Jerod Evans (Virginia Tech); CJ Beathard (Iowa); Josh Dobbs (Tennessee)
Level of Desperation: 2/10
The Bottom Line: Quarterback is not a need for the Vikings — yet. With questions surrounding Teddy Bridgewater’s future health status, Sam Bradford’s contract situation beyond 2017 being up for debate as well as a pair of backup quarterbacks in Taylor Heinicke and Case Keenum who don’t necessarily inspire confidence for varying reasons, Minnesota could look to resolve a potential future issue with a developmental quarterback in the mid-to-late rounds like Jerod Evans or Josh Dobbs.
Current Depth Chart: Latavius Murray (Starter); Jerick McKinnon; CJ Ham; Bishop Sankey
Vikings Engagement List: Joe Mixon (Oklahoma); Alvin Kamara (Tennessee); Kareem Hunt (Toledo); Brian Hill (Wyoming); Marlon Mack (South Florida); Dare Ogunbawale (Wisconsin); Corey Clement (Wisconsin); Samaje Perine (Oklahoma); Aaron Jones (Texas-El Paso); Joe Williams (Utah); Jamaal Williams (Brigham Young); Curtis Samuel (Ohio State)
Potential Draft Solutions: Joe Mixon (Oklahoma); Wayne Gallman (Clemson); Kareem Hunt (Toledo); Alvin Kamara (Tennessee); D’Onta Foreman (Texas); Semaje Perine (Oklahoma); Marlon Mack (South Florida); Brian Hill (Wyoming)
Level of Desperation: 6.5/10
The Bottom Line: Minnesota has an interesting situation at running back. Having already added Latavius Murray during free agency to with a depth chart of Jerick McKinnon, CJ Ham and Bishop Sankey, the Vikings elected to engage with 12 different running backs with varying draft stocks. Simply, the question isn’t if Minnesota will select a running back, it’s more about when and what role the new player will be expected to play in Pat Shurmur’s offense.
Current Depth Chart: Stefon Diggs (Starter); Adam Thielen (Starter); Jarius Wright; Laquon Treadwell; Isaac Fruechte; Cayleb Jones; Mitch Mathews; Moritz Böhringer
Vikings Engagement List: Carlos Henderson (Louisiana Tech); Rodney Adams (South Florida); Drew Wolitarsky (Minnesota); Amba Etta-Tawo (Syracuse); Chad Williams (Grambling State); Lance Lenoir Jr. (Western Illinois); Curtis Samuel (Ohio State)
Potential Draft Solutions: Carlos Henderson (Louisiana Tech); Chris Godwin (Penn State); ArDarius Stewart (Alabama); Taywan Taylor (Western Kentucky); Cooper Kupp (Eastern Washington); JuJu Smith-Schuster (Southern California); DeDe Westbrook (Oklahoma); Curtis Samuel (Ohio State); Noah Brown (Ohio State); KD Cannon (Baylor)
Level of Desperation: 4/10
The Bottom Line: Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are entrenched atop Minnesota’s depth chart at wide receiver, but after losing Cordarrelle Patterson and Charles Johnson to free agency, questions remain about the options beyond Minnesota’s starting outside pass-catchers. Again, the Vikings could add to their receiver depth chart by going a number of routes — no pun intended — and mid-round prospects like Carlos Henderson who offer versatility as a return man appear to have caught Rick Spielman’s attention.
Current Depth Chart: Kyle Rudolph (Starter); David Morgan II; Kyle Carter; Nick Truesdell
Vikings Engagement List: Jonnu Smith (Florida International); Mo Alie-Cox (Virginia Commonwealth)
Potential Draft Solutions: Jake Butt (Michigan); Jordan Leggett (Clemson); Adam Shaheen (Ashland); Gerald Everett (South Alabama)
Level of Desperation: 3/10
The Bottom Line: Minnesota lost Rhett Ellison to free agency earlier this spring and MyCole Pruitt to the waiver wire last fall. With Kyle Rudolph and David Morgan atop the depth chart, Pat Shurmur can be satisfied with the tools his tight end roster brings, but injury sliders like Jake Butt and situational studs such as Jordan Leggett could present outstanding value on Day 3.
Current Depth Chart: Riley Reiff (Starter); Mike Remmers (Starter); Rashod Hill; TJ Clemmings
Vikings Engagement List: Jonah Pirsig (Minnesota); Julie’n Davenport (Bucknell)
Potential Draft Solutions: Dion Dawkins (Temple); Antonio Garcia (Troy); Taylor Moton (Western Michigan); Julie’n Davenport (Bucknell); David Sharpe (Florida); Jonah Pirsig (Minnesota)
Level of Desperation: 5/10
The Bottom Line: Minnesota’s offensive tackle situation has not been discussed nearly as much since the team signed Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers during free agency. But, the fact remains that if one or both were to go down, the Vikings lack competitive depth at one of the most important positions in the NFL. The interior offensive line positions likely take precedent, but make no mistake about it — Minnesota’s offensive tackle situation is still a work in progress and young developmental options like Antonio Garcia or the versatile Taylor Moton may be too good to pass up.
Current Depth Chart: Alex Boone (Starter); Joe Berger (Starter); Jeremiah Sirles (Starter); Nick Easton; Willie Beavers; Austin Shepherd; Reid Fragel; Zac Kerin; Marquis Lucas
Vikings Engagement List: Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky); Dan Feeney (Indiana); Pat Elflein (Ohio State); Damien Mama (Southern California); Kyle Kalis (Michigan)
Potential Draft Solutions: Dan Feeney (Indiana); Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky); Pat Elflein (Ohio State); Ethan Pocic (Louisiana State); Dorian Johnson (Pittsburgh); Damien Mama (Southern California); Chase Roullier (Wyoming); Kyle Kalis (Michigan); Jessamen Dunker (Tennessee State)
Level of Desperation: 8.5/10
The Bottom Line: Widely regarded as Minnesota’s top need, the Vikings brought in a handful of interior line prospects for workouts and interviews to assure they are well prepared to grab a difference-maker at guard or center. As it stands today — with Joe Berger still planning to play in 2017 — the Vikings’ greatest need is at right guard, making Western Kentucky standout Forrest Lamp, Indiana stud Dan Feeney and Ohio State leader Pat Elflein high-priority options for an offensive line-needy team.
Current Depth Chart: Linval Joseph (Starter); Tom Johnson (Starter); Datone Jones; Shamar Stephen; Toby Johnson; BJ DuBose; Sharrif Floyd (Injured Reserve)
Vikings Engagement List: Malik McDowell (Michigan State); Davon Godchaux (Louisiana State); Chunky Clements (Illinois); Jaleel Johnson (Iowa); Dylan Bradley (Southern Mississippi); DeMarcus Walker (Florida State)
Potential Draft Solutions: Malik McDowell (Michigan State); Larry Ogunjobi (Charlotte); Dalvin Tomlinson (Alabama); Jarron Jones (Notre Dame); Jaleel Johnson (Iowa); Eddie Vanderdoes (UCLA); Davon Godchaux (Louisiana State); DeMarcus Walker (Florida State)
Level of Desperation: 8/10
The Bottom Line: Around this time last season the Vikings depth chart oozed defensive tackle depth with Linval Joseph atop a group that also included former first-round pick Sharrif Floyd and veteran difference-maker Tom Johnson. With Floyd’s career in doubt, Johnson just now getting healthy from a hamstring injury and, simply put, long-term availability now a glaring issue beyond Joseph, Minnesota should have a premium placed on upgrading its 3-tech, speed-rushing defensive tackle. Michigan State’s Malik McDowell, a candidate to slide due to character issues, could prove too difficult to pass on at No. 48 overall given his extremely high ceiling.
Current Depth Chart: Everson Griffen (Starter); Danielle Hunter (Starter); Brian Robison; Datone Jones; Stephen Weatherly; Sterling Bailey
Vikings Engagement List: Carl Lawson (Auburn); Tarrell Basham (Ohio); DeMarcus Walker (Florida State)
Potential Draft Solutions: Carl Lawson (Auburn); Tarrell Basham (Ohio); Dawuane Smoot (Illinois); Daeshon Hall (Texas A&M); DeMarcus Walker (Florida State)
Level of Desperation: 1.5/10
The Bottom Line: Minnesota may only have one year left with Brian Robison, but the team boasts incredible long-term talent in Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen, making defensive a position the Vikings likely won’t be targeting until late on Day 3 of the draft.
Current Depth Chart: Anthony Barr (Starter); Eric Kendricks (Starter); Emmanuel Lamur; Kentrell Brothers; Edmond Robinson
Vikings Engagement List: Elijah Lee (Kansas State); Duke Riley (Louisiana State); Jack Lynn (Minnesota); Eric Wilson (Cincinnati); James Onwualu (Notre Dame)
Potential Draft Solutions: Zach Cunningham (Vanderbilt); Jarrad Davis (Florida); Raekwon McMillan (Ohio State); Anthony Walker Jr. (Northwestern); Duke Riley (Louisiana State); Elijah Lee (Kansas State); Alex Anzalone (Florida); Ben Boulware (Clemson); Jabrill Peppers (Michigan)
Level of Desperation: 8.5/10
The Bottom Line: Minnesota’s defense was exploited by tight ends all season long in 2016, and, following Chad Greenway’s retirement and Audie Cole’s departure, now lack talented depth at the linebacker spot. Anthony Barr, who has coverage issues to resolve, and Eric Kendricks are excellent cornerstone pieces for Mike Zimmer’s nickel package, but Minnesota desperately needs an upgrade to Emmanuel Lamur for when it is forced into its base 4-3-4 look. Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham presents a dream option here while Ohio State stud Raekwon McMillan, Kansas State’s Elijah Lee and LSU’s Duke Riley also offer great value in the middle rounds.
Current Depth Chart: Xavier Rhodes (Starter); Trae Waynes (Starter); Terence Newman (Starter); Mackensie Alexander; Jabari Price; Tre Roberson; Terrell Sinkfield; Marcus Sherels
Vikings Engagement List: Jalen Myrick (Minnesota); Brendan Langley (Lamar); Damontae Kazee (San Diego State)
Potential Draft Solutions: Jalen Tabor (Florida); Adoree’ Jackson (Southern California); Sidney Jones (Washington); Corn Elder (Miami); Jalen Myrick (Minnesota); Damontae Kazee (San Diego State); Cameron Sutton (Tennessee); Desmond King (Iowa)
Level of Desperation: 3/10
The Bottom Line: Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Terence Newman and Mackensie Alexander make up a fairly stacked Minnesota cornerback depth chart, but this draft class is simply too deep and rich in talent to pass up indulging in. The question here is whether if the Vikings will target an outside cornerback or a nickel cornerback to replace Captain Munnerlyn and during what round may they look to strike. Injured star Sidney Jones and versatile ball hawk Desmond King — who offers a potential solution at safety, too — are intriguing candidates in Rounds 3 and 4.
Current Depth Chart: Harrison Smith (Starter); Andrew Sendejo (Starter); Jayron Kearse; Anthony Harris; Antone Exum; Cedric Thompson
Vikings Engagement List: Leon McQuay III (Southern California); Josh Jones (North Carolina State); Rayshawn Johnson (Miami); Jadar Johnson (Clemson); Damarius Travis (Minnesota); Weston Steelhammer (Air Force)
Potential Draft Solutions: Marcus Maye (Florida); Obi Melifonwu (Connecticut); Budda Baker (Washington); Josh Jones (North Carolina State); Eddie Jackson (Alabama); Rayshawn Jenkins (Miami); Jadar Johnson (Clemson); Jabrill Peppers (Michigan); Desmond King (Iowa)
Level of Desperation: 4/10
The Bottom Line: Andrew Sendejo upgraded his game in 2016, but with so much depth and talent in this year’s safety class, one has to wonder if the Vikings will look to find Harrison Smith a true partner in crime on their back end. Connecticut’s Obi Melifonwu is an athletic freak, Washington’s Budda Baker presents a versatile option and one can only imagine what Mike Zimmer could do with Jabrill Peppers’ flawed but enticing skill set.
Current Depth Chart: Kai Forbath (Starter); Marshall Koehn
Vikings Engagement List: Zane Gonzalez (Arizona State)
Potential Draft Solutions: None
Level of Desperation: 2.5/10
The Bottom Line: The Vikings don’t have the draft capital to afford to invest in a kicker, but their meeting with Arizona State’s Zane Gonzalez may prove telling.
Current Depth Chart: Ryan Quigley (Starter); Taylor Symmank
Vikings Engagement List: Worth Gregory (East Carolina)
Potential Draft Solutions: None
Level of Desperation: 4/10
The Bottom Line: Punter may be a need for the Vikings, but after drafting Jeff Locke during the fifth round and receiving mixed results prior to his departure for the Indianapolis Colts, one has to believe Rick Spielman will look to upgrade special teams via undrafted free agency.
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Statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference