NFL Draft 2016

MOCK DRAFT: Warwas Version 1.0

See my entire first 2016 NFL Mock Draft by CLICKING HERE.

Last year, I produced version 1.0 of my mock draft in January and had the Vikings selecting cornerback Trae Waynes 11th overall. I never wavered from that pick, one that would subsequently become very popular and then very unpopular, and repeatedly had the Vikings selecting Waynes in every version of my Mock Draft after that.

Picking 12 spots later, and a much more flexible roster makeup, I am highly unlikely to repeat the boring redundancy that was my 2015 mock drafts.

The pick, of course, ended up being Waynes and it was met with disdain from a healthy portion of Minnesota’s fan base. Many preferred the NFL’s defensive rookie of the year, cornerback Marcus Peters, and others thought that it was a wasted pick. A number of Twitter arguments started with the assertion that Xavier Rhodes, Captain Munnerlyn and Josh Robinson made the first round investment into the cornerback position a waste.

Well, if you’ve been around here for awhile, you know that I care not for your perceived needs when it comes to the NFL Draft and it is equally likely that you’ll care not for my first version of my 2016 NFL Mock Draft.

I’m not sure what about the last decade of Vikings football would have any fans honestly believing the team could ever have too many good cornerbacks on the roster.

All you have to do is fast-forward to the playoff game against the Seahawks to see how the narrative had changed greatly, despite the starters staying relatively healthy in the regular season, with the fans collectively cringing at the idea of Josh Robinson even seeing the field for a few snaps. Terence Newman and Trae Waynes had to exit with injuries, a totally foreseeable occurrence in any NFL season, and Robinson was forced into action.

The Waynes pick did less to shore up the secondary in the short-term than the signing of Newman did, but there is no denying that Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer did a lot to shore up the secondary in 2015 by investing via the Draft and free agency. Waynes was able to play well enough during his few spot duty snaps throughout the season, contribute on special teams, and presumably prepare for his eventual installation into the Vikings starting rotation.

Another 2015 selection that was widely viewed as unnecessary, as a luxury pick, was that of tight end MyCole Pruitt in the 5th round. After all, the Vikings already seemed rich at the position with Kyle Rudolph, Chase Ford, and Rhett Ellison already on the roster.

Again, fast-forward to the playoff game at TCF Bank Stadium and all complaints about “need” had fully dissipated. Ford was stolen away from the practice squad and Ellison suffered a terrible injury at the end of the regular season. The Vikings were left with Rudolph and Pruitt as their only tight end options, installing lineman Austin Shepherd as their third blocking tight end in their heavy formations.

Again, before the final snap of the following season was played, April’s highly-touted “needs” of this roster had long faded out of view in the rear-view mirror. The intensive analytical and hypothetical debate about roster construction had given way to real life happenings, with depth becoming nearly as important as the quality of the starting lineup, as it so often does by the end of an NFL season.

So, prior to unveiling my first Vikings pick, I want you to know the selection will read more like a “this isn’t impossible” explanation rather than the “this should absolutely happen” arguments that others will try to sell you on. Love it or hate it, that’s my approach to these things, because I see absolutely nothing wrong with using the NFL draft to get better and deeper at positions of strength.

My day job is designing powerlines and we refer to this mentality as having a “critical spare” which I also thinks translates to the design of an NFL roster. For example, if there is a really huge transformer providing power to, say, the scoreboard at an NFL stadium you have to assume that eventually that transformer will have problems.

You could probably plug in a smaller transformer for a period of time without seeing any negative effects. A transformer one or two sizes smaller could do the trick in most instances, but when you really need the robust capacity of the original, such as on game day, you are setting yourself up to have problems.

This is why you have a “critical spare” waiting back in the warehouse. After all, this specialized piece of equipment can’t just be picked up at your local hardware box store. You would have a lead time, probably a significant one, that could keep a crucial part of the stadium off line for far too long.

The “critical spare” can be inserted in place of the original without any negative side effects at all. The utility investing in this spare transformer is wise, because not only do you want to have it on hand when the first one fails, but you have pre-planned yourself into an easy solution when the original just gets so bad that you can no longer rely on it at all. You have pre-purchased a long-term replacement that is expected to perform every bit as well as the original.

Now, I know that dealing with the human aspect of a roster creates far more variables than designing something mechanical like a power grid, but this is my way of saying you will never hear me cry about the Vikings drafting a prospect that doesn’t fill an immediate “need.” Wait for a few preseason injuries to happen, wait for a couple of games to be played, and then talk to me about your pre-Draft needs list.

Forcing a pick to meet an immediate need (Christian Ponder) can have disastrous results. Selecting a player despite what positions the fans think you must target (Anthony Barr) can pay off greatly in the long run. That’s just the mentality I have when putting together my mock drafts and I understand that will not be for everyone.

23rd Pick Overall – Minnesota Vikings Selection
Hunter Henry – Tight End – Arkansas

You can CLICK HERE to see my entire 2016 NFL Mock Draft Version 1.0 to see what picks were made in advance of me giving the Vikings what is certain to be a perplexing selection to many of you. Rest assured, however, my selection is made out of a respect for the prospect and is not a condemnation of anybody currently on the Vikings roster.

I found myself sitting at 23 unable to pull the trigger on any players that would fill an immediate “need” and, since the mock doesn’t include trades, feeling unable to move around to get the value I would like to see while also filling a position that would make the masses happy.

The top name on my board was Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry who also happens to be far and away the best player at his position. I see this pick as a guy that could help the Vikings in areas where they particularly need it, like in the red zone and in the blocking game, while also a contributor in the downfield passing game and on special teams.

While Henry has yet to find his way to our Scouting Reports Page, I know that he will, so I’ll save the in-depth report for another day. In short, however, I see Henry as a well-rounded tight end that could be equally effective as a blocker as a game-changing pass catcher down the seam.

He has the route-running smarts required within this Vikings offense, a fluid release and burst that allows him to gain needed separation, and the big frame and “pluck” ability to make contested catches in traffic. He created mismatches in every college game he played and there is little reason to believe that will not continue at the NFL level.

Henry is a willing and dependable blocker, something the Vikings could certainly benefit from, in both the run and passing game. He would add such a meaningful wrinkle to this offense, one that was too predictable in 2015, while also being another capable safety blanket for Teddy Bridgewater to lean on throughout the season.

Envisioning Rudolph, Pruitt and Henry rotating within Norv Turner’s offense makes me a bit giddy. Of course, Ellison has been a very important swiss army knife at the position, but his pending free agent status and rehabilitation have cast a serious shadow over his future with the team. Adding a player like Henry would give Spielman the ultimate flexibility in how he proceeds with the tight end position for years to come.

So, there you have it. That is Version 1.0 and I am sure the post-Combine update will look considerably different. As I stated, I am much less likely to hitch my wagon to one prospect as I was last year, so check back soon for updates. Also, we’ve got plenty of other writers prepping their own mock drafts which will be released soon enough.




Show More

Adam Warwas

Adam Warwas (Founder) has been writing about the Vikings for a total of eight years. Five of those years have been here at Vikings Territory where he continues to surround himself with enough talented individuals that people keep coming back. As proud as he is of what Vikings Territory has become, his real treasures are in his home... a beautiful wife and three amazing children (and a dog named Percy).

Related Articles


  1. Wow Adam, not too many are too fond of your choice. I find it interesting. However, with such an investment in Rudy and Pruitt looking that he could be something worthwhile.. I don’t know. Is he more of an Ellison type or Pruitt type of TE? You noted that he was capable in both route running, catching, and blocking. If he is more of a receiving type, then I don’t think it is a good pick as Rudy and Pruitt both seem to fit that mold. If he is more of a pancaking blocker Kleinsasser type.. Is he really worth a first round pick? Not slamming Jim K at all. I think that he was/is the best blocking TE to ever play in the NFL, and he could catch the ball when called upon too.

    1. If you are looking for a player comp, luv, I think you’ll find Jason Witten as the most commonly used one for Hunter Henry. He has it all: Hands, size, YAC potential, and willingness as a tough blocker.

      He is not a Kleinsasser or a Pruitt.

    1. yeah, not a TE in the first or second round. taking a pass catcher early would instead prefer a WR. they are risky choices in the first, but it might happen this year. doubt we’ll go o-lineman in the first, but maybe in the second and then also beyond, that’s our big need. i wouldn’t be upset if we did pick a solid o-lineman in the first

      wouldn’t be surprised to see us take a d-lineman in the middle rounds as the draft is deep there this year and there could be excellent values to be had. LB and safety here, too, these are needed areas and ya wanna be strong up the middle. this is zimmer’s team and feeding the defense good players should continue to be a common theme every year. defense wins championships

  2. Oh, Henry. I guess we need to remember the old time NFL saying: “Back up tight ends win championships.” After watching this season play out just give me the best defender on the board and let’s move on to round two. Best punter available?

  3. If you’re looking for depth, I don’t see how you can pass up a player like Jarran Reed. Far better prospect.

  4. Whoa, I get that you don’t care about filling a need but I don’t even want another TE. We’re good there and first round picks are virtually guaranteed a roster spot. I don’t want to go into training camp knowing that Pruitt or Ellison will be cut because of a relative unknown. He might not even be good in the NFL

  5. Again, just not a fan of the positional need thing. Especially before free agency comes and goes. I see a need for improved blocking and red zone efficiency, and Hunter Henry projects (in my eyes) to help his future team in both areas.

    1. Just a hypothetical then… If Jared Goff or Carson Wentz falls to us should we draft them? They’d easily be the BPA at that point.
      Points for thinking outside the box Adam but there is 0 chance. I think that stud punter (from TAMU?) has a better chance to be Taken at 23.

        1. I am with you on that one WTF! Adam hit the nail right on the head when he responded to one on this thread that there are no guarantees, but I think this kid is going to be really good. I just don’t think he will be there at 10 let alone 23.

      1. If the team is sold on one of those guys as a high caliber QB then absolutely! Why on Earth would you turn and run the other way if you had the chance to get a talented, young, and relatively inexpensive option to act as you “critical spare” at the team’s most important position?

        In 2005 the Packers made that choice with the 24th pick. They could’ve given Brett Favre a weapon in Roddy White or Vincent Jackson and nobody would’ve blamed them at all. Tell me they made the wrong choice.

  6. Zac, the Vikings can’t cut Ellison unless they re-sign him. Even then, there is a decent chance he is on IR or PUP instead of the active roster Day One. Drafting a TE doesn’t immediately replace anybody. “He might not even be good in the NFL” applies to every prospect ever.

    1. I was assuming that we re-sign Ellison to a one year “prove it” deal because of the injury. If not, another TE becomes an easier sell. The reason I said he might not be good is because I don’t want to lose the guys that we have, who have already proven that they can be effective in the NFL. I get the appeal of another blocker and a red zone threat. I just don’t want to go that way in round one

    2. How much different would Hunter be than an UDFA. In my opinion, TE is one of the easiest positions (only behind K, C, and RB) to find a stud in the 5th 6th or 7th rounds.
      While I agree with taking the BPA, team need shouldn’t be factored in but positional value absolutely must be

      1. Skol, I agree that positional value plays a part, but I would disagree that a complete tight end should be de-valued along with other more one-dimensional options. A complete TE is a dangerous thing in today’s NFL and I think should actually increase in Draft Day value if one is available. I see Henry as a complete tight end that could be a real game-changer.

  7. While I like the idea of BPA in theory, I think there is the reality of how the quality gap of the BPA vs areas of need. For example, lets say Henry is given a 93.3 rating out of 100….And lets say the next player is an OL guy with a ranking of 90 (and we will assume a 3.3 point difference is very significant in quality) you can make a case that well Henry is the CLEARLY the BPA and so we should take him (assuming no trades of the pick).However, look at an example with l Henry at a 93.3 rating but the next player is an OL with a rating of 93.2…….While you can tell me you rank Henry higher, the reality is a .1 difference in quality is minimal. In that case it seems foolish creating a logjam at TE when you have a giant gaping sore at OL. I know aesthetically, praying to the GOD of BPA sounds wonderful in theory…and in many cases might make sense….But it seems there is a there could be a happy medium somewhere else. Also….While it is way too early to come up with hardcore rankings yet (lets see how combine goes) it was not like Henry was overly represented in top round picks in various mocks….A much hard question is what happens if we a get Sharif Floyd (a top ten ranking but falls to 23) situation with a guy like A’Shawn Robinson or Jarran Reed. While not areas of strong need, they would clearly be bargains (at least based on mocks today). And yeah, I would agree they would be tough to pass on them with 23 (or at least drive a very good trade for a team that was hot and heavy for our now rather valuable 23)

    1. Your explanation of the draft board is spot on… many teams utilize the decimal system to help make close calls. In your scenario there, I would have Henry rated significantly higher than my next guy (who was Ragland, btw) because I think that highly of him. I think when the Combine rolls around you’ll see a lot of writers scrambling to correct their first rounds to include Henry… not because the Combine is that important, but because I think if you watch him play you’ll see he has all of the desirables.

      1. Thank you Adam for your reply. Understood about how Henry has a big gap in your ratings between him and the next guy. Obviously….The combine results will affect the ratings….As well as Free Agency affect what the teams needs are as well. I should add that I would have zero ability to rank any player by myself and just look at various sites to see how players are rated (I do quite enjoy Arif Hasan`s various analysis of players)

  8. I actually love this pick IF the Vikings traded Rudolph away and re-signed Ellison. I feel Pruitt is an up and coming star. Combined with Henry, a natural playmaker and day one starter in two TE sets, Teddy gets his big body/red zone targets he desperately needs. Rudolph has demonstrated his lack of desire to block and appeared to be playing not to get hurt all last year. He made it through his first major injury free season so make lemonade out of lemons. Take a 4th or 5th round pick for him and dump his cap unfriendly contract. There are a lot of TE needy teams out there who’d likely jump all over that opportunity. This also takes the pressure off the need to find a big bodied WR in the draft. There aren’t any with the skill set to become a true #1. Henry is by far the best TE in this draft. Adam is right, the 1st round discipline is to disregard your supposed needs in the 1st round and take the BPA. If in any given year a team’s need coalesces with the BPA, then it’s a coup. However that rarely happens and mistakes are made, i.e. Waynes, Patterson, Ponder. First round selections have to be guarantees and misses are too costly.

  9. Adam,you have written “Cameron Wentz” instead of Carson Wentz.Also a little typo with Tunsil being an OR,should be OT 🙂

  10. If the board were to fall this way,then Reggie Ragland or Darron Lee would have to be the pick.While I like Hunter Henry and think he is clearly the best TE in the draft,I don’t have him as a first rounder.
    While I agree with the notion of BPA,I would be beyond anger if we took a TE at 23.In my opinion there is no first round TE in this draft,and apart from the 4 top guys (Henry,Vannett,Adams,McGee) it is a weak group overall.

    1. Ragland was next up for me and I won’t lie that I thought about taking him so not to post this mock and look like I was just “trying to be different just because” or something. I’d be content with Ragland.

      Also, I admittedly have a lot of work to do before the Draft when it comes to stacking these DT prospects. Deep and talented, deep and talented.

      1. I’ve also got a lot of work to do!
        I have done a fair bit on LB because I feel we will be taking one,probably higher than most fans expect.
        Still trying to sort out OL prospects.