Note: These are predictions, not a personal list of wants.
Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman knows two things for certain about his draft history.
1.) He can find extraordinary talent between the 20th-32nd picks of the 1st Round. It’s where he found Harrison Smith and Justin Jefferson. Of course, Spielman has struck out before, but no general manager expects to do that.
2.) Spielman does not miss in the 2nd Round of the draft. He is batting 1.000.
Therefore, the Vikings will trade their 14th-overall pick, sliding a handful of spots back while obtaining the 2nd-Rounder that was lost last summer to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
This mock draft details four rounds — after that threshold, it’s a complete guessing game in the 5th, 6th, and 7th Rounds. Not about to predict Spielman’s trading charade late in the draft.
Vikings Receive: 22nd Overall Pick (1st Round) and 47th Overall Pick (2nd Round)
Titans Receive; 14th Overall Pick (1st Round) and 134th Overall Pick (4th Round).
Kwity Paye, DE (Michigan) 1st Round (Pick 22)
Stephen Weatherly could probably “do the trick” if Minnesota decides to go offensive line in the 1st Round. Yet, with the emphasis on pressuring quarterbacks in an ever-evolving pass-happy league, this selection is going to be an EDGE rusher. Paye will start immediately opposite Danielle Hunter. The Weatherly signing will turn out to be a rotational one. Spielman will save the offensive line for mini-back-burner stuff — surprise, surprise. The accomplishment here is that the Vikings splash back into the 2nd Round while still netting a ferocious pass rusher.
Asante Samuel Jr., CB (Florida State) 2nd Round (Pick 47)
We think the Vikings are “loaded” and “fine” at cornerback — but that’s for 2021 only. With Jeff Gladney’s career teetering on full collapse, Cameron Dantzler is the only startable CB contractually scheduled for the roster in 2022. Zimmer loves defensive backs, and he will find a way to make you snicker by selecting a defensive back — per usual. Also, there is the bloodline here as Samuel is the son of former New England Patriot, Asante Samuel Sr.
Walker Little, OL (Stanford) 3rd Round (Pick 78)
This is when the offensive line urgency sets in. Truth be told, some of the best linemen ever are plucked out of later rounds. Little has the Stanford pedigree and could start at left tackle for the Vikings in the future. As far as his 2021 role — who knows. The offensive line fivesome is shrouded in total mystery as of mid-April. But Spielman will not ignore the offensive line entirely. Hell, he never does. The Vikings have selected more offensive trenchmen in the 2nd Round or higher in the last three drafts than any other NFL team.
Ben Cleveland, OL (Georgia) 3rd Round (Pick 90)
A man named Cleveland, drafted in the city of Cleveland, to be paired with a teammate named Cleveland. Badda Bing. Spielman shows that he is serious about making the offensive line a not-lousy one and chooses another big ugly. Cleveland and Little will battle it out in Eagan to decide if either will start in 2021. Oh, and you should fully expect the Vikings to sign a veteran offensive lineman after the draft. Dakota Dozier will not start — no matter what Twitter tells you.
Kyle Trask, QB (Florida) 4th Round (Pick 119)
Here’s the mini-contingency plan for Kirk Cousins. If Mike Zimmer and Kirk Cousins do not lead the franchise to the postseason (and probably to a playoff win), one or both will be phased out. Trask on the roster satisfies the mysteriously unfilled QB2 spot, enabling an opportunity for the Gator to “learn behind Cousins.” The Vikings never do incredibly exciting draft stuff at QB, so this Trask move feels on-brand — a “meh but at least it’s something” transaction.
Caden Sterns, S (Texas) 4th Round (Pick 125)
Unless Harrison Hand is converted to safety, the only young safety on the Vikings roster is Josh Metellus. Youth is in order for a team that boasts Harrison Smith as its best safety. Smith is 32 and could conceivably decline at any moment, despite showing zero signs of it as of yet. Sterns offers versatility and can study Harrison Smith and Xavier Woods in 2021.
Seth Williams, WR (Auburn) 4th Round Round (Pick 143)
Williams is a reliable commodity. He is not a speed merchant, but that’s ok. The Gamecock is said to be a redzone nightmare for defenses, and he can play special teams. Williams is forecasted as an apt slot receiver with good hands. Spielman will give him a look for WR3, although Irv Smith Jr. will fill that responsibility per target allocation.