It’s officially draft season at Vikings Territory, making this the perfect time to begin NFL Draft speculation. Who will the Minnesota Vikings select with the 23rd-overall pick in April? Will general manager Rick Spielman trade back for more ammunition? Does the team need to focus on offense or defense in the first round? Without football on Sundays, there’s more than enough time to second guess what the Vikings will do this offseason.
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report‘s premier draft expert, recently spent some time analyzing Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith. The 6’3″, 240-pound prospect was a consensus top-10 pick before his gruesome knee injury in last month’s Fiesta Bowl, but may see his stock slip while recovering from a torn ACL and LCL. According to Miller, that makes teams like the Vikings a dark horse landing spot for the Fighting Irish superstar:
“If Jaylon Smith falls in the draft, I could see a team like the Minnesota Vikings pairing him with young guys like Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks. Smith could play weak-side linebacker if you want to keep Kendricks in the middle, or, he could play middle linebacker and Kendricks could play that weak-side spot for Mike Zimmer. If you could imagine those three linebackers chasing down Aaron Rodgers, Vikings fans have to be very happy about it.”
It’s unlikely Smith falls that far, but stranger things have happened to the Vikings. In 2013, Minnesota held the same exact pick and was fortunate enough to land defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. The former Florida Gator was labeled the draft’s “No. 1 player on tape” by Greg Cosell, but fell due to concerns over his arm length and injury history. Smith may fall to the Vikings late in the first round, but it would take a miracle from “Trader Rick” to make the dream of a Barr-Kendricks-Smith trio a reality.