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Geoff Nichols Vikings Mock Draft 3.0
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A week since mock draft 2.0 its time to get back at it now that the draft is only 3 weeks away. Although nothing material has changed in the past week, the Vikings hosted their annual top 30 visit this past Tuesday. With a few names hitting the airwaves one would assume that the team is starting to stack its board in anticipation of the draft. As we approach the draft we get a better idea on where runs will setup and how each team may approach their needs.

2 (48) – Although it will likely be a buyers market, trading down makes a lot of sense without a first round selection. Houston may move up in the 2nd for a QB and get ahead of a potential run. In this mock the Vikings trade 2 (48) along with 4(128) for 2 (57) and 3 (89).

2 (57) *Via HOU – Dorian Johnson (OG Pittsburgh): With a weak tackle class the Vikings took the proactive approach of finding a pair of bookends in free agency. With their money spent on tackles the team is currently left with Jeremiah Sirles plugged in at RG with limited depth behind him. This isn’t necessarily terrible, but a long-term solutions is needed. During the collegiate season the Vikings spent plenty of time scouting Pittsburgh. Dorian Johnson is the blue chip prospect entering the draft from their program this year. Johnson lacks the elite athleticism you look for in 1st/early 2nd round guards, but he has the pure power to win at the point of attack in pass protection. In the run game he succeeds once he gets moving downhill but will need to refine the angles he takes to blocks in the open field. An underrated aspect of Johnson’s game is his familiarity in a pro style offense. This should make him a plug and play starter in year one at either OG position.

3 (79) – Tanoh Kpassagnon (DE Villanova): The Vikings have made it a habit of selecting freak athletes to develop on the defensive side of the ball and Kpassagnon fits the bill. Defensive end is not an immediate need but could simplify Datone Jones’ role and prepare for life after Brian Robison/Everson Griffen (potentially). Being able to keep Jones on the inside at 3-tech in a rotations with Stephen fills the need indirectly. Tanoh is not a refined pass rusher but has the size, length, speed combination teams covet at the position. Similar to Danielle Hunter as he learns to setup pass rushing moves his pure athletic traits won’t limit what he is capable of doing on the football field. Pass rushers are arguably the most valuable NFL asset aside from QB’s and being able to develop talent from the 2-4th rounds will serve the team well moving forward.

3 (86) *Via MIA – ArDarius Stewart (WR Alabama): The losses of Cordarrelle Patterson and Charles Johnson this off-season has made outside receiver depth a critical need entering the draft. Internally there is hope that Fruechte will be able to take some snaps next season, but more speed is needed within the WR group. Stewart has the long speed to take the top off the defense and is elusive in the open field. Alabama is a run first offense which limited Stewart’s effectiveness in college. Coming into the NFL he will need to become a more refined route runner and cut out the random drops that plagued him at times. Overall he should be able to take snaps immediately at split-end/flanker and compete for kick retuning duties.

3 (89) *Via HOU – Marcus Maye (S Florida): This is a carryover from my previous mock, although I am getting the gut feeling Maye end up going earlier than expected. Sendejo took a step in the right direction during 2016 the Vikings felt the consequences whenever he or Harrison Smith were unable to take the field. Maye is a defensive leader, a trait the Vikings FO has coveted over the years and a versatile safety who can play both in the box and over the top. With some time to develop Maye would be the successor to Sendejo and the long-term partner for Smith on the backend of the defense.

4 (120) – Julie’n Davenport (OT Bucknell): From those who I have talked with, Davenport’s draft grades are all over the place. Some teams believe that he can develop into an effective LT early in his career due to his elite length. Others don’t believe that he has the power and mental awareness to be a LT in this league. Given the players the Vikings currently have listed as OT depth, Davenport is worth the gamble. As noted he has the length teams covet at LT and has shown some effectiveness as a 1×1 blocker at Bucknell. The competition jump may give him some initial trouble but over time he has the skill set needed to stick at OT in the league.

4 (128) *Via MIA – Traded to Houston along with the Vikings original 2nd round selection.

5 (160) – Jamaal Williams (RB BYU): The signing on Latavius Murray shows the Vikings are ready to accept the NFL trend of a backfield by committee. Although Murray addresses the position immediately a historically deep RB class offers tremendous value at this point in the draft. Williams is a tenacious back who can work both from under center and out of the gun. Once running downhill he is difficult to bring to the ground and was effective moving the chains in short yardage situations. In the open field he has a subtle elusiveness to his game. The flaw in William’s game is his inability to create for himself behind the line of scrimmage. Starting his career in a 3rd down role will be beneficial as he develops into a more functional piece of the offense.

6 (199) – Elijah Lee (OLB Kansas State): Since Mike Zimmer became HC of the Vikings it is apparent they are going to spend a lot of time in their nickel package. Lee is a nice LB prospect who plays well through garbage and is always near the ball. In coverage he needs to continue developing but has the raw physical traits to evolve his game. Lamur/Robison likely will beat him in a competitions straight up, but he can be an impact special teams player which is a value in the later rounds.

7 (232) –  Sojourn Shelton (CB Wisconsin): The resigning of Terence Newman gives the Vikings some flexibility at CB but you can’t trust your luck on Newman remaining the same player indefinitely. Shelton is an undersized DB but makes up for his lack of size with an strong ability to break on routes and breakup passes at the catch. In the NFL Shelton will likely develop into a slot CB which has an ever growing value within the league. Depending on how the Vikings divide their slot duties, Shelton should be able to compete as depth in camp.

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April 7, 2017 - 5:33 am
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Was wondering if Johnson’s name would ever come up in draft talk…might have to due with his quiet off season to date…it’s a pipe dream now to think Godwin would be available in the third, but if you swapped him in and hit up Pittsburgh again for Connor, or Joe Williams I could get behind that mock…

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April 7, 2017 - 7:02 am
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BarrNone55 said
Was wondering if Johnson’s name would ever come up in draft talk…might have to due with his quiet off season to date…it’s a pipe dream now to think Godwin would be available in the third, but if you swapped him in and hit up Pittsburgh again for Connor, or Joe Williams I could get behind that mock…  

You got me on ignore, bro?  😉

I’ve been the one man Dorian Johnson fan club whenever someone starts talking about interior OL in the draft.

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April 7, 2017 - 7:09 am
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Johnson is an intriguing guy. Haven’t watched him since I put him on about a month ago, but my lasting impression is that he moves his feet like pistons. It’s almost as comical as it is impressive. He might be the best 2nd level blocker in the draft. I think he’s underrated so if goes in the 2nd it wouldn’t surprise me. 

I take Davenport in most of my mocks. He’s a year or two away, but nothing wrong with that in the 4th round. You mention mental awareness, which is probably due to lack of coaching and experience in a big program, but I read something recently that suggested he was uber smart. Not sure where that was, but I think it was a leaked wonderlic. Whatever he lacks now he should be able to learn quickly. 

The back is a little late. Nothing against Williams, but this has to be THE guy for the next several years. Admittedly, you can get starting backs late, but waiting until the 5th would seem to lower our chances of hitting quite a bit. 

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April 7, 2017 - 7:13 am
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Guru…  You did it.  I don’t think i can pick apart much of this mock.  😀

I absolutely love the small trade down and taking Dorian Johnson and Tanoh Kpassagnon with our first two picks.  They both caught my eye early in the offseason when I started digging into the draft.  Two of my favorite players in this draft.

Ardarius Stewart is definitely a guy who could outplay his draft spot because of the way he was used in college.  I like his deep speed and he is a horse to bring down once he gets the ball in his hands.  He is also probably THE best blocking WR in this draft.  It’s obviously not something you value highly out of a WR, but it is a beneficial trait in our offensive scheme with Zimmer’s preference to have a strong running game.

I think you have Davenport going right where I think he’ll go in the draft.  Somewhere in the 4th round, much like Clemmings (another long, athletic raw LT prospect).  Good developmental pick.

Great job!  This is my favorite mock that you’ve done to date this offseason.

BOOM

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April 7, 2017 - 7:40 am
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Wetlander said

You got me on ignore, bro?  😉

I’ve been the one man Dorian Johnson fan club whenever someone starts talking about interior OL in the draft.  

LOL…hell no! I guess I haven’t been reading up much on the OL threads…

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April 7, 2017 - 10:07 am
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Thanks for doing these Guru.  I have zero interest in investing the time to try to follow 120+ schools to figure who can add what to a pro team. 

It’s much appreciated. 

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April 7, 2017 - 10:59 am
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Enjoy readings these mocks Guru…Thank You!!

There currently are roster spots open at OG, DT, TE, RB, WR, LB, and CB. Some positiions have more than 1 slot open. We have 8 picks to fill 7 position holes. You have done a decent job at filling most of the holes.

In the earlier drafts you went more with a TE in your mocks – Bucky Hodges, I think you might have mentioned Jake Butt also.

With the latest drafts I see your going more with WR’s…any reason for the change?

Also it appears Dorian Johnson is moving up on the boards.

Thanks

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April 7, 2017 - 11:48 am
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So you went from picking a DT with the first pick in your last mock to no DT in the following mock. Not sure about your reasoning. Dorian Johnson looks and sounds a lot like TJ Clemmings when he came out of Pitt. 

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April 7, 2017 - 12:03 pm
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mgobluevikes said
Dorian Johnson looks and sounds a lot like TJ Clemmings when he came out of Pitt.   

In what way?

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April 7, 2017 - 1:53 pm
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Nice job Geoff. I would have loved to see a center in there somewhere but I sure can’t argue with any of your picks.

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April 7, 2017 - 3:15 pm
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Another well-done draft. Question: were you intentionally aiming for “safer” with this one? Not only is McDowell (a very risky prospect) gone, but Dorian Johnson, Marcus Maye, Ardarius Stewart, and Jamaal Williams are all lower risk players – though without as much potential as some. I’m afraid I see Stewart and Williams as likely to be no more than backups or average starters, so I would prefer some more dazzle. Lately I feel as though at those two positions (WR and RB) I dislike the options in rounds 3-4, and want to either pick one in the 2nd or just wait until later and bet on someone more talented (if more raw).

You do have some high-reward shots in Davenport and Kpassagnon. Speaking of Tanoh Kpassagnon, I like him and the idea of him reaching his full potential under the tutelage of Zimmer and Patterson is incredible. 

Like others, I’m missing a TE…and DT…

Shelton is a great late pick and makes it seem like letting Munnerlyn leave was pretty logical. Great coverage guys who are 5’10” or less – Shelton, Corn Elder, William Likely – get pushed down but can become good slot CBs.

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April 8, 2017 - 11:47 am
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MaroonBells said
Johnson is an intriguing guy. Haven’t watched him since I put him on about a month ago, but my lasting impression is that he moves his feet like pistons. It’s almost as comical as it is impressive. He might be the best 2nd level blocker in the draft. I think he’s underrated so if goes in the 2nd it wouldn’t surprise me. 

I take Davenport in most of my mocks. He’s a year or two away, but nothing wrong with that in the 4th round. You mention mental awareness, which is probably due to lack of coaching and experience in a big program, but I read something recently that suggested he was uber smart. Not sure where that was, but I think it was a leaked wonderlic. Whatever he lacks now he should be able to learn quickly. 

The back is a little late. Nothing against Williams, but this has to be THE guy for the next several years. Admittedly, you can get starting backs late, but waiting until the 5th would seem to lower our chances of hitting quite a bit.   

I like the “pistons” analogy since he does look mechanical at times when he is working to the second level. The thing with Johnson is that I don’t think he makes it to the Vikings pick in the 3rd so if they could move back and then take him later in the 2nd it may end up being the best of both worlds. If push comes to shove I wouldn’t hesitate to take him at their actual pick if they can’t get any value to move back. I still am undecided if you’d make me choose between Elflein & Johnson though and that is why we have about 3 weeks to go. 

Davenport scored a 34 on the wonderlic which is really impressive. I think the big thing is if the Vikings took Davenport you simply cannot play him until he has time to develop. Clemmings coming in at RT in year one and then moving back to LT really screwed things up in my opinion. As a raw prospect you end up learning a lot about O-line play but don’t master anything. I could see the same thing happen to Davenport if pushed into action early. However, the more I’ve thought through the Vikings stance on the line they may not draft an OT since I don’t think they’re done trying to develop Clemmings. So in my mind taking an OT is really based on what falls to them (Garcia in the 3rd or Davenport in the 4th primarily). 

Agreed that the back was probably a bit late, just how things fell here. The nice thing about keeping both 4th round picks is that a slew of backs are going to be available and start falling off the board around that portion of the draft. I could see the team taking a RB in the 2nd if one of the top 5 guys fell (Fournette, Cook, Mixon, McCaffrey Kamara) but otherwise they will likely target the 2nd/3rd tier backs that can develop in year one (Perine, Gallman, Mack, Hunt). 

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April 8, 2017 - 11:48 am
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mgobluevikes said
So you went from picking a DT with the first pick in your last mock to no DT in the following mock. Not sure about your reasoning. Dorian Johnson looks and sounds a lot like TJ Clemmings when he came out of Pitt.   

Adding a DE indirectly fills the need at DT since you wouldn’t need to rotate Datone Jones on the outside. 

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April 8, 2017 - 11:50 am
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Norse said
Enjoy readings these mocks Guru…Thank You!!

There currently are roster spots open at OG, DT, TE, RB, WR, LB, and CB. Some positiions have more than 1 slot open. We have 8 picks to fill 7 position holes. You have done a decent job at filling most of the holes.

In the earlier drafts you went more with a TE in your mocks – Bucky Hodges, I think you might have mentioned Jake Butt also.

With the latest drafts I see your going more with WR’s…any reason for the change?

Also it appears Dorian Johnson is moving up on the boards.

Thanks  

To be completely honest it just is how the board has shifted a bit. I could still see them taking a TE early if they can find value they like, that just has been happening with WR’s more often than not when doing these mocks. From a need standpoint I also think another body at WR is needed more than a complimentary TE. If you want to get real creative maybe a WR/TE hybrid ends up filling both needs. 

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April 8, 2017 - 11:57 am
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Jor-El said
Another well-done draft. Question: were you intentionally aiming for “safer” with this one? Not only is McDowell (a very risky prospect) gone, but Dorian Johnson, Marcus Maye, Ardarius Stewart, and Jamaal Williams are all lower risk players – though without as much potential as some. I’m afraid I see Stewart and Williams as likely to be no more than backups or average starters, so I would prefer some more dazzle. Lately I feel as though at those two positions (WR and RB) I dislike the options in rounds 3-4, and want to either pick one in the 2nd or just wait until later and bet on someone more talented (if more raw).

You do have some high-reward shots in Davenport and Kpassagnon. Speaking of Tanoh Kpassagnon, I like him and the idea of him reaching his full potential under the tutelage of Zimmer and Patterson is incredible. 

Like others, I’m missing a TE…and DT…

Shelton is a great late pick and makes it seem like letting Munnerlyn leave was pretty logical. Great coverage guys who are 5’10” or less – Shelton, Corn Elder, William Likely – get pushed down but can become good slot CBs.  

I wouldn’t say that I was intentionally trying to be “safer” with this mock, I just took my risks in different places/ways. Instead of taking the high upside players with motor/off-field issues I tried to take risks on prospects that are raw but have the physical skills you look for. I agree that Maye and Stewart don’t give much dazzle in the middle rounds but I would argue both have a decent chance to develop into solid role players. You don’t need everyone to be a star since its about putting together the best 90 man roster to bring into camp and cutting it down from there. 

In this draft class WR seems to wash up pretty quickly after the round 2/3 turn. If you want to get an immediate impact player you may need to trade up from the middle of the 3rd to earlier in the round. Its hard to say how the running backs will unfold since teams may target other positions early knowing there is depth at the position they can take advantage of in the heart of the draft. In the Vikings shoes if one of the elite backs fall to their 2nd round selection you take them. Otherwise it really is a dart board in the middle rounds but I could see Foreman lasting until the 3rd and being a good fit in MN. 

I explained TE and DT above. A TE would be nice but just couldn’t find the value in this mock. As for a DT drafting Kpassagnon allows the team to keep Jones at 3-tech without a need to rotate at DE so the need is filled indirectly. 

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April 8, 2017 - 12:00 pm
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I will never be on the same level as Geoff in Mock Drafts, so I truly appreciate when he does these so I can learn about more players coming out of college that may potentially become a Viking. 

I also text with Geoff many times a week and I have learned a lot about the behind the scenes of how it all works from a management point of view. 

Geoff. I hope you know how much I appreciate that !!!

SKÖL Brother!! 

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April 8, 2017 - 2:54 pm
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I’m wondering if Rick would consider Sidney Jones if he drops into that late 3rd or 4th round. Jones was Mayock’s top rated corner and widely considered a top 15 pick before he tore his achilles at his pro day. He’s “saying” that he’ll be ready by the season, but that won’t happen. So this is a redshirt pick. But one I think might be attractive to a team without a first rounder. 

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April 8, 2017 - 4:37 pm
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MaroonBells said
I’m wondering if Rick would consider Sidney Jones if he drops into that late 3rd or 4th round. Jones was Mayock’s top rated corner and widely considered a top 15 pick before he tore his achilles at his pro day. He’s “saying” that he’ll be ready by the season, but that won’t happen. So this is a redshirt pick. But one I think might be attractive to a team without a first rounder.   

Funny you bring that up, I originally started writing in Jones with the 1st third round pick above and ultimately figured a team would take a shot in the late 2nd. I agree that it could be great value and you don’t know what is going to happen with Newman after this season. Before tearing his achilles I thought Jones was the best corner in the class. 

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