After relocating to their beautiful new headquarters in Eagan, MN, and the signing of Kirk Cousins official, excitement amongst fans of the Minnesota Vikings is sky-high, and it’s justified.
Left with a sour taste after the NFCCG a season ago, the 2018 NFL Draft offers an opportunity to fill out the few remaining holes on an already well-stocked roster, and truly set them over the top.
It’s well documented Rick Spielman prefers around 10 picks, as it provides valuable ammunition to move up or down as he chooses. They’re without a 4th or 7th round selection (waiting on details from Trevor Siemian trade; MIN receives another unspecified 2018 pick) as a result of acquiring Sam Bradford and Tramaine Brock (now members of Arizona and Denver, respectively). This is nullified a bit, as MIN was awarded 3 compensatory picks in the 6th round, and they can now trade these picks.
This leaves them with a total of 7 picks (8 after Siemian details). It also just so happens this Draft appears to be deep at their biggest positions of need. For the sake of this mock, we will not include trades.
ROUND 1, 30th Overall: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
A lack of depth across the trenches dug their grave come playoff time, as there wasn’t enough trusted bodies for a healthy rotation along the DL and production faded. This selection would change that. Bryan is a 6’4 292 lb. raw ball of clay for Zimmer to mold. He possesses great athleticism for a DT/3-tech, with explosive snap get-off to shock offensive lineman out of their sets, flexibility around blocks, and good pursuit speed. He has a motor that always runs hot.
He’s extremely raw and far from polished. His play and ball-carrier awareness is a big concern, as he over-pursues and takes himself out of too many plays. Average play power/strength allows stronger lineman to control and wash him out of plays, though an NFL strength program should help a little. Below average contact balance trips him up when surrounded by clutter. He’d give MIN the high-upside, disruptive 3-tech they’ve needed, and would be a perfect fit with primary run-stuffers Linval Joseph and Jaleel Johnson in a complimentary DT rotation. *If Sheldon Richardson signs, expect this selection to be an offensive lineman.
ROUND 2, 62nd Overall: Frank Ragnow, C/G, Arkansas
Born and raised in Chanhassen, MN. 6’5 310 lb. of pure anger in the run game. Non-complacent initiator (wastes no time getting into you before you get to him). Not a great athlete on the interior, but is adequate in this regard if you run zone-blocking schemes. Generally good awareness (will miss a rare stunt/twist) and is a great climber with proper timing and angle to target. Has strength to anchor when bull-rushed. Starting experience at both C/G with success at both.
His feet need to improve in space. Pad level can be a bit high, and inside punch placement could be more consistent. May struggle with quicker, more explosive rushers, but has the traits needed to improve in pass-pro with hard work. Should start at RG immediately, allowing Mike Remmers to slide back to his more natural RT spot.
ROUND 3, 94th Overall: Geron Christian, OT, Louisville
His feet and athleticism give him the potential to stay at LT, and develop into a coveted true “dancing bear”. He’s got elite pass-pro potential, but could very easily struggle/wash out if he becomes complacent where his game’s at. Has ideal OT length at 6’5 298 lb. with long 35in arms to keep rushers away from his frame. His biggest concern is functional power/strength. Former basketball player with the movement skills to match. Starting experience at both OT spots. Having LT Riley Reiff and RT Mike Remmers allows Christian to gain mass/strength while being the swing tackle in the meantime.
ROUND 5, 167th Overall: Tony Brown, CB, Alabama
The more teams pass and spread the football around, the more valuable the nickel CB position is. Brown has good size at 6’0 200 with a lean, muscular frame. Brown is a physical nickel CB that has never avoided contact, in fact, he seems to feed off it. Size/speed/strength athlete that suffers from hip tightness that can allow separation for WRs out of breaks. Ran 4.35 40 yard dash and a 4.11 20 yard shuttle at the NFL Combine. Strong tackler in run support and relies on fantastic recovery/closing speed in coverage rather than mirroring. Immediate special teams demon, and insurance when father time catches up with Terence Newman.
ROUND 6, 204th Overall: Ryan Nall, RB, Oregon State
How is Latavius Murray going to respond when asked to take a paycut/restructure? My guess is not well, and this selection ensures the Vikings have their power/goal-line back. (*UPDATE: Murray has in fact restructured, so chances are a RB selection would be of the smaller, more change of pace variety ala Ito Smith.)
Standing at 6’2 232 lb., Nall moves unlike many backs his size. Shows soft hands out of the backfield and a knack for pass-pro. Has vision to the 2nd level, and is able to maximize the yardage given to him. Ran 4.58 at the Combine, with a vertical leap of 33in and a broad jump of 122in. Possesses rare explosion relative to backs his size.
In 2017, he carried the ball 165 times, rushing for 810 yards and 8 TDs (27 receptions, 240 yards, 2 TDs). Would spell workhorse Dalvin Cook on some 3rd downs and act as a versatile goal-line vulture for Minnesota.
ROUND 6, 213th Overall: Jordan Akins, TE, Central Florida
An athletic “move” TE with a similar skill-set to Cousins’ former favorite target, Jordan Reed. OC John DeFilippo needs a 2nd pass catching TE to pair with Kyle Rudolph on 2TE sets, 6’3 238 lb. Akins is ready made for this role. He would do his work between the 20s, while Rudolph continues to use his body leverage to feast in the red-zone.
Akins can give away his routes at times, but he’s uber-athletic for a “move/joker” TE. He’s got good speed along with quickness/burst out of breaks that he uses to create separation to all levels. He will separate more consistently once he learns to sell routes better.
His YAC potential is a great addition because it’s something current Minnesota TEs lack. His blocking is certainly a work in progress, but effort doesn’t seem to be the issue, and his role as a “move or “joker” slightly nullifies this negative aspect of his game.
ROUND 6, 218th Overall: Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida
Kirk Cousins reads this name and smiles ear to ear. Familiarize yourself with this name, as his upside is limitless and he is the most physically gifted WR in this entire class.
At 5’11 198 lb., he has elite 4.41 speed to burn CBs deep with ease, and is just an all-around explosive, elusive, and elite athlete. He wins with both inside and outside release. He’s nearly impossible to tackle in space. He can separate underneath on slants, drags, crossers, and hitches, taking them to the house in a smooth manner. He’s got explosive leaping ability for those 50/50 occasions, though he lacks strength and desire.
You’re likely reading this wondering why he’s available on Day 3. It’s simple, Antonio Callaway cannot avoid the police.
Callaway could be a weapon of mass destruction on the field, but only if he can stop the destruction off of it. He was kicked off the Florida program before the 2017 season because of a number of off-field occurrences. Those incidents include multiple issues with drugs, accused sexual sexual assault (that was dropped), and credit card fraud.
He has the talent to hold the world in his hands, and if he turns his life around, will be a story told around the world because of his abilities. His former coaches say they like him as a person, but don’t trust him. He’s not a polished intermediate route runner yet, but has all the god-given tools to become one if he wants.
He’s proven he’s not to be trusted away from football, but a team will roll the dice because he’s a truly rare football player, and if there’s a miracle somewhere along the way, that team will have completely changed their fortunes. He elected to forego his 2017 season and prepare for the 2018 NFL Draft.