Mock drafting is great but simulating the draft is better. Websites like FanSpeak and The Draft Network have functions that combine draft boards and team needs to estimate how things will play out in the 2020 NFL Draft. We at SKOR North will be simulating the draft from a Minnesota Vikings perspective as we lead up to when the Vikings are on the clock. Here’s our first since the Vikings traded Stefon Diggs for a first-round pick…..
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A Mike Zimmer corner at 6-foot-1, 204 pounds and a blazing 4.39 40-yard dash, Henderson is not only one of the best athletes in this year’s draft at the position but in any draft over the last 20 years according to the website Relative Athletic Scores. He has experience playing against elite talent, giving him an opportunity to step in quickly as an outside corner. In 2019 his performance was not as impressive as 2018, when he gave up just a 47.3 rating against, per PFF. On Henderson, NFL.com wrote:
“Silky smooth boundary cornerback with mirror-and-match footwork and the agility and athleticism to stay connected to routes. He has NFL recovery burst and the long speed to track vertical routes downfield. He has the twitchy acceleration to jump a throw and take it away if the quarterback lingers on the target, and he’s quick to wrap and finish after the catch. He makes mental mistakes from time to time and occasionally loses awareness from zone. He’s willing and capable in run support but needs better control as an open-field tackler. Henderson is a fluid cornerback with ball skills and burst and has CB1 ability as a first-rounder.”
In his final season in Houston Jones emerged as one of the best pass blocking tackles in the country, giving up just one sack, zero QB hits and three pressures, per PFF. He also graded by PFF measures a 90.1 (of 100) in zone run blocking, which the Vikings will continue to use under Gary Kubiak. Jones may need time to adjust to the NFL but if the Vikings stick with Riley Reiff for 2019, he can learn behind the veteran before taking over in 2021 and severe as immediate quality depth.
“Early tape would suggest that Jones is a raw, developmental project in need of substantial technique work, but tape study later in the season suggests a level of improvement that creates additional intrigue for the long, athletic left tackle prospect. To be clear, he needs plenty of work with his pass sets and footwork, but most of his issues appear to be coachable. He’s a good fit for a move-oriented rushing attack and has the traits and talent to become a future starter if he continues to develop with coaching.”
He might only be 5-foot-11 but Reagor has a crazy vertical, jumping 42.0 inches in Indy. He also ran a 4.47 40-yard dash. In his junior season at TCU his production dipped from 2018 but Reagor averaged more than 14 yards per reception in each of his three years. Per PFF data, only 30% of the throws his way were accurate, which impacted his reception numbers. He could be an immediate deep threat with the talent to become a complete receiver. NFL.com wrote:
“Spotty quarterback play helped cause a production drop, but his focus and competitiveness also seemed spotty at times. Reagor is a smooth athlete with blazing speed who has more playmaking talent than receiver skill and play-callers need to account for that when determining how to utilize him. He’s electric with the ball in his hands so getting it to him quickly rather than asking him to consistently make plays for himself as a ball-winner could be crucial. When 2019 is balanced against his 2018, the grade and projection begin to climb with a versatile receiver who’s able to spice the offensive gumbo.”
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At Boise State, Weaver had ridiculous production, posting double-digit sacks each of the last three years including 15 in 2019. Going into the Combine he wasn’t considered a top-notch athlete but he performed admirably in the 65th percentile in the 3-cone (per Mockdraftable), which most relates to edge rushers’ explosiveness. He might could jump immediately into a D-line rotation.
“Stand-up end whose production as a pass rusher must be balanced out by his below-average ability and athleticism in stopping the run. Weaver is a naturally instinctive counter-rusher who uses synchronized hands/feet to attack both inside and outside edges as a rusher, but his lack of explosiveness and athletic traits could dull his rush production against NFL offensive tackles. He plays with football intelligence, but his level of NFL success could be determined by whether his skill can overcome below-average explosiveness.”
The Vikings couldn’t pass on Lamar twice, right? Jackson is another big Zimmer corner at 6-foot-2. Per PFF he gave up just a 55.7 rating into his coverage. He would project as Year 1 depth with a chance to become a starter down the road.
“Will appeal to particular schemes coveting size/length over all else, but inconsistent downfield ball skills and run support effort will be concerns. His long arms and big frame can annoy and disrupt pass-catchers when he’s in the vicinity, but he’s missing the speed to stay in phase with vertical routes and route specialists. Jackson doesn’t appear to have the demeanor for a transition to safety, but his physical traits warrant Day 3 consideration as a zone corner with press potential.”
The Vikings will be aiming to both fill some immediate needs while building for the future. In this case, two of the picks could be impact players in 2021 (Henderson, Reagor), while the other three might need more development but have a chance to find roles early in their careers.
On the defensive side the Vikings only have two corners in Mike Hughes and Holton Hill who have played in NFL games before so taking two of them isn’t a stretch. Replacing Everson Griffen — even if he comes back for 2020 — should be a priority as well.
On offense, Reagor gives the Vikings a freak athlete receiver to mold into a 1B to Adam Thielen and while he can’t be Stefon Diggs right away he has the potential to offer another treat for opponents to worry about from Day 1. Jones will be needed down the road and since the Vikings have started building the O-line with Brian O’Neill and Garrett Bradbury, they are a left tackle away from having a good foundation for years to come.
There were plenty of attractive picks at need positions when the Vikings hit the clock with the Buffalo Bills’ pick at 22. Baylor receiver Denzel Mims, LSU corner Kristian Fulton, Alabama corner Trevon Diggs, LSU receiver Justin Jefferson and Iowa edge rusher AJ Epenesa were the best possible fits. Any of the corners would have been a solid selection.
With the 25th pick the Vikings needed to come away with a future tackle, especially with Kirk Cousins under contract through 2022. If he’s going to maximize his talents, he’ll need to be protected. This spot could have been used for a receiver but the tackle class drops off after the first round whereas there were other quality receivers available in the second. Jefferson also went 23rd, leaving Mims or Jones as the best possible picks.
With the last very good receiver prospect on the board it would have been difficult to take anything else but a few need positions had quality prospects in the second. Safety Kyle Dugger, a project with extremely high upside, was available along with interior defensive linemen Ross Blacklock from TCU and Neville Gallimore of Oklahoma. Corner Jaylon Johnson could have been a reasonable pick as well considering the need at the position.
Since Cousins signed an extension it makes less sense to pick Jalen Hurts but he was on the board. There is a case for him considering he could be used as a rushing weapon and might develop over several years. Quality receiver KJ Hill of Ohio State was there if the Vikings wanted to go all-in on finding Diggs’ replacement or defensive linemen Raekwon Davis was an option.
There were several guards there past the 41st pick in the third round that could have been taken instead of Jackson but the Vikings did just pick Dru Samia last year and he might have a chance to start this season.
Wow have things changed over the last several weeks. At one point the draft simulations would have been looking at receiver as a luxury pick rather than a must-have but now they are in a position to absolutely need someone to play on the other side of Thielen. They are also loaded with picks, giving the Vikings all sorts of options to make trades up or down and to fill the many areas of need on the defensive side. It adds tons of intrigue for Vikings fans on each day of the draft and gives them a chance to reload the roster while still dealing with a lack of cap space.
The top of the draft
If you’re curious, here’s how things played out in this draft sim at the top: