As we head into the final days before the NFL Draft and all the final mocks are being put together, the expectation around the league appears to be that the Minnesota Vikings will go in the most obvious direction and pick offensive linemen early.
On NFL.com’s mock draft page, three of the four mock drafters have the Vikings picking a guard or tackle. Draft guru Daniel Jeremiah went with North Carolina State’s Garrett Bradbury for the Vikings in his latest mock. On his pre-draft conference call, Jeremiah said that he could see the Vikings grabbing two offensive linemen in the first three rounds.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they doubled down,” he said. “Whether or not it’s their first pick, I don’t know, but I could definitely see them using two of those picks on offensive linemen.”
Jeremiah added that the Vikings, who presently have an opening at left guard after losing Nick Easton in free agency, could potentially find a starter in the third round at guard if they elect to pick other positions in the first and second rounds.
“I think you get into that third round, you can find a guy — you can find a Nate Davis from UNC Charlotte or a Michael Deiter from Wisconsin or a Dru Samia from Oklahoma,” Jeremiah said. “Interior players I think could come in and play right away and help that football team. I think you’ll see all those top centers and guards, those guys are going to go in the second round.”
Tackle, he said, is a different story.
“If you want to take a tackle outside the first two rounds for the most part, you get into the developmental side of things,” Jeremiah said.
Among the Vikings’ options is picking a tackle in the first round and moving Riley Reiff inside to fill the guard position. Among the potentially available tackles at 18 could be Alabama’s Jonah Williams, Washington State’s Andre Dillard and Florida’s Jawaan Taylor. Of the three, Jeremiah called Williams the “safest pick” and said he could potentially play guard. He tagged Dillard as the “highest upside” player and Taylor as the most physical.
“To me you’ve got the elite pass protector [Dillard], you’ve got the steady Eddie [Williams], and then you’ve got the mauler [Taylor]. That’s how I would describe those three guys,” Jeremiah said.
Another prospect tackle who hasn’t received the type of attention as the top three is Greg Little of Ole Miss, who might be an option for the Vikings in the second round.
“Teams are all over the map on him,” Jeremiah said. “I like him. I like him in that middle to late second-round range, but I would not be shocked in the least if we had a run on tackles. And you start hearing his name, potentially a team like Houston, all those tackles are gone, it wouldn’t shock me if he snuck into the first round, and that would be a spot that I would look at him for. If not, he will not get out of the second round. He’s somebody that’s just — there’s a lot to work with there.”
The NFL Network analyst and Move The Sticks podcast host also connected the Vikings to top tight ends TJ Hockenson and Noah Fant from Iowa.
“I think Minnesota is a sleeper team for a tight end,” he said. “They’ve done a lot of homework on tight ends. That would not shock me.”