‘Football Outsiders’ Drops Puzzling Mock Draft for Vikings

Vikings Offensive Lineman Absolutely Thrived in September
Dec 5, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Brian O'Neill (75) leads his team to the field to play the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Only one NFL team has selected a center in the 1st Round of the NFL draft more than once in the last 20 drafts, and if Football Outsiders get its way, the Minnesota Vikings will join the club in about two months.

The ‘other’ team was the Cleveland Browns, who drafted Jeff Faine in Round 1 of the 2003 NFL Draft and then another center, Alex Mack, six years later with 1st-Round draft capital.

‘Football Outsiders’ Drops Puzzling Mock Draft for Vikings

Minnesota chose Garrett Bradbury in Round 1 of the 2019 draft, and now the North Carolina State alumnus is a free agent. He may or may not return to the Vikings. So, FO‘s Benjamin Robinson evidently believes it’s time to pound the table for center again. He authored a 1st-Round mock draft last week and theorized Wisconsin’s Joe Tippmann for the Vikings.

Puzzling Mock Draft
Oct 22, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers offensive lineman Joe Tippmann (75) during the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

Robinson explained the pick, “Garret Bradbury is slated to be a free agent and on the way out of Minnesota, and Wisconsin’s Joe Tippmann would be a major upgrade at a position group whose performance as a unit is most often impacted by its weakest link.:

“Tippmann is the top center in the class, and he would fit seamlessly into an offensive line room that includes cornerstones at tackle, promise at guard, and now a top talent at center,” Robinson added.

Wisconsin Badgers offensive lineman Joe Tippmann (75) talks to the media as part of Wisconsin Badgers football media day at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. © Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Truth be told, it would be great to replace Bradbury — if he leaves at all — with a sure thing in Tippmann. It is not a bad idea. But, at some point, the Vikings needed to “call it good” with drafting offensive linemen early in drafts and hit on mid-to-late rounders — or use free agency for the project. Minnesota has used oodles of 1st- and 2nd-Round draft capital on guards, centers, and tackles since 2018. Doing so has inadvertently ignored other roster needs.

Since 2017, the Vikings have plucked seven offensive linemen in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft — the most in the business. They’ve tried diligently to fix the trenches. And, to a degree, the offensive line improved in 2022 with Kevin O’Connell and his offense-first coaching staff in charge.

Wisconsin offensive lineman Joe Tippmann (75) looks for someone to block during the first quarter of their game against Eastern Michigan Saturday, September 11, 2021, at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. © MARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

Unless general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah truly believes Tippmann is the next Dermontti Dawson — and the best football player available with the 23rd pick — Minnesota should re-sign Bradbury, find a center after Round 1, or utilize free agency for Bradbury’s replacement. The Vikings defense needs the utmost attention, evidenced by the New York Giants exposing the group in the playoffs.

One should never complain about getting richer on the offensive line, but other roster spots need love sooner or later.

The Vikings haven’t drafted a player from the Unversity of Wisconsin since 2005 — defensive end Erasmus James.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.