With the NFL Combine wrapped up and the first week of free agency in the books, draft season in full swing, so it’s time to get back to an annual tradition: The draft simulation.
Most media outlets mock, but we take a different path with the draft sim using The Draft Network. The site allows us to make the Minnesota Vikings’ selections while simulating the rest of the draft based on draft rankings and team needs.
With that said, let’s have a look at how things turned out in our first draft sim, the first four rounds….
We don’t need much of an explanation for drafting an offensive lineman at 18th overall. With the Vikings’ lack of movement in the O-line market in free agency, they will need to continue to build through the draft as they have in 2017 with Pat Elflein and 2018 with Brian O’Neill. The Oklahoma lineman is a physical specimen. At 6-foot-5, 346 pounds, he ran a 40-yard dash in the 65th percentile for linemen and 64th broad jump. He also has great length and plays with an edge. The Draft Network referred to him as a “complete mauler” and notes that he could play either guard or tackle with “a higher ceiling at guard.”
The Vikings struggled to find a replacement for Jarius Wright as their No. 3 receiver in 2018 and could be looking for an instant impact player in that spot. Samuel isn’t tall at 5-foot-11, but he weighed in at 215 pounds and had well above average hand size, vertical jump, 40-yard dash and bench press at the Combine. Known as a strong route runner, he caught 62 passes for 882 yards and 11 touchdowns last year.
With Latavius Murray exiting in free agency, the Vikings will need a replacement. Montgomery put together 1,216 yards and 13 touchdowns (4.7 yards per carry) at Iowa State. He would carry on Murray’s tradition of being a change-of-pace from Dalvin Cook, who is a patient zone scheme runner whereas Montgomery might be more of a power back.
With Sheldon Richardson gone, the Vikings will need to continue to build their depth at defensive tackle. Willis is a long shot prospect with a high ceiling. He struggled to get along in his early college days and ended up transferring from Florida to Miami, but found his place and had a strong 2018 season. He’s a boom or bust prospect.
If the board plays out the way it did in this draft simulation, the Vikings will have to make a choice between Ford and Bradbury. The top tackles Jawaan Taylor, Andre Dillard and Jonah Williams both went pretty far before the Vikings picked, which would probably put them out of reach for a trade up. The enticing non-offensive line picks were also gone, making the choice easy. Players like defensive tackle Ed Oliver, edge rusher Montez Sweat and tight end TJ Hockenson did not drop in this scenario.
It would be shocking if the Vikings took a receiver or cornerback, but the players selected in the 20s were all quality prospects. Harry and Butler are big, impressive targets and Murphy appears to be a solid, low-floor type corner.
Farther down the board was three intriguing players for the Vikings in Jachai Polite, an edge rusher from Florida, Iowa tight end Noah Fant and Clemson defensive lineman Christian Wilkins.
In the second round, tackle Greg Little was still on the board at 50. Vikings fans might throw a parade if they picked two linemen with the first two picks. Tight end Irv Smith from Alabama was also there as was Ohio State speedster Paris Campbell
Try your own draft simulation here… leave your results in the comments or tweet them @matthewcoller