ESPN Analyst Produces Perfect Vikings Mock Draft

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The Minnesota Vikings primarily need two things on April 25 and the following two days: a new quarterback and help on the defensive line. If they find help in both of these areas, fans and coaches Kevin O’Connell and Brian Flores would be excited. Because many expect the team to package every valuable pick to climb into the top five, they might lack the resources to do that. One guy thinks it could be done differently.

ESPN Analyst Produces Perfect Vikings Mock Draft

ESPN employs a plethora of excellent draft pundits. One of them, Jordan Reid, facilitated his final mock draft in this draft cycle and sent the Vikings two exiting players in the first round. But how did he do it?

ESPN Analyst Produces Perfect Vikings Mock Draft
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

He rejected the urge to jump up too far and instead traded with the Atlanta Falcons to land their eighth overall pick for picks 11, 108, and 129.

Minnesota doesn’t have to move into the top five for a QB here, based on how the board is falling, but it might not want to risk waiting any longer. I’ve heard Atlanta is interested in moving back from No. 8, so this fits from both sides.

Jordan Reid, ESPN

With Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Jayden Daniels off the board, the Vikings select the fourth QB in this draft class, J.J. McCarthy, out of Michigan. The passer has been rising the draft boards of pundits all offseason.

McCarthy is a great fit with the Vikings considering his skill set — he’s accurate and mobile — and the infrastructure in place in Minnesota. The Vikings have Sam Darnold, so there’s no pressure to start a rookie QB in Week 1. McCarthy’s 88.2 QBR was third in the nation last season, and he has a ton of upside — he just might need some time to adjust to the pro game.

Jordan Reid, ESPN
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McCarthy is a polarizing prospect because he didn’t carry his team at the college level. Still, he made the necessary throws, especially in big moments, and has some exciting tools. His athleticism and underrated arm strength are intriguing, and he is always poised in the pocket. His skills allow him to create plays on schedule and as a scrambler.

While it can be questioned if he can light up the stat sheet as a rookie, throwing the ball to Justin Jefferson and his sidekicks, T.J. Hockenson and Jordan Addison, in an offense coordinated by Kevin O’Connell will help him grow into the best version of himself.

More Defense for Vikings
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The passer would fill one hole, leaving the desire to acquire a defensive lineman. Because Reid didn’t ship both first-round picks to Atlanta, he can use the 23rd selection to bolster Flores’ defense. After trading down four spots with the Cardinals in exchange for picks 27 and 90, he sent Illinois defensive tackle Johnny Newton to Minnesota.

Minnesota doesn’t have a true penetrator in the middle of its defense, but that’s exactly what Newton can be for this team. He was an unblockable force at Illinois, posting 7.5 sacks last season. Few defensive linemen in this class have his level of versatility, and his endurance is super impressive — his 715 snaps were seventh most among all FBS defensive linemen last season.

Jordan Reid, ESPN
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Newton is the best interior pass-rusher in the draft and a real disruptor up front, which is exactly what the Vikings need. The current roster has Harrison Phillips, a solid run stuffer, and rotational guys Jerry Tillery, Joanh Williams, Jonathan Bullard, and Jaquelin Roy. None of those guys can be a real game-changer. Newton has that kind of potential.

Reid later drafted TCU guard Brandon Coleman, who would compete with Blake Brandel for the left guard vacancy left by the departed veteran Dalton Risner.

If the draft fell this way, Vikings fans should certainly be happy with it. The dream scenario is acquiring a difference-maker for the defensive front and a promising QB prospect.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt