The Minnesota Vikings are in a weird limbo. Does the Diggs trade signal rebuild? Then why did they extend Cousins? Trade Harris or Extend Harris? How does Cook fit into this? The variables are all over the place, but using the 22nd and 25th Overall Picks the Vikings can easily formulate a “Win Now” mentality once more, and potentially go all the way this season.
Firstly, the team has more pressing needs than Wide Receiver. Stefon Diggs is a loss (and this writer is still wiping the egg off his face for saying he wasn’t going anyway) but truth be told his production year was complimented primarily off the injury to Adam Thielen causing him to sit out 4 games during the 2019 season. Despite this, Diggs only led Thielen in YPG, and that says more to the factor of Diggs playing primarily as the deep threat of the Vikings (see his performance vs PHI) than the actual quality of play from the pair of them, furthering on this is the tied TD totals (both 6 on the season) and Thielen has showcased the ability to play as a Deep Threat (see the playoff game vs NO in 2019 and the Week 2 meeting with GB from 2018) that it just further cements Thielen as the true WR1 and expect more of a workload for him, adding to this the Free Agent acquisition Tajae Sharpe formerly of the Titans makes the need for a WR in the draft not a 1st Round priority (least in this writers eyes) as Sharpe offered decent production in a team carried by Derrick Henry, and despite limited targets he still produced 4 TDs on the season, so can easily compliment Thielen in the WR2 slot.
The real needs of the team lie in the usual position in one regard, but The Offensive Line is (in the tackle position) is still in need of addressing, Kirk Cousins is still, for all intent and purposes, a pocket passer, and whilst the RT slot is solid enough (Brian O’Neil is a capable starter) Riley Reiff at LT is a question mark for the whole offence and protecting Cousins’ blindside is a must if they want to see the best value for the newly signed 2-Year Deal man. Rashod Hill being resigned is a good swing tackle, so signing an improved starter and moving Reiff to the interior line will be the best for the Vikings. Secondly, the Vikings are in desperate need in help at Cornerback. Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander are all gone, and the most experienced CB on the Roster is currently 3rd Year CB Mike Hughes, who has a career total of 5 starts. A 1st Rounder on a CB is almost certainly a must in order to assist Holton Hill and Mike Hughes into greater roles, whilst having top calibre play available in a 1st Round Rookie Talent. Finally, both the Edge and Interior D-Line perhaps need addressing if available, as the loss of Griffen and Joseph, alongside Weartherly (despite the emergence of Odenigbo and the signing of Pearce) needs to be addressed, although it would take a good drop in talent for the Vikings to use either the 22nd or 25th Pick.
Before moving ahead with potential player profiles, a couple rules moving ahead. Firstly, I will be writing without the idea of trading up, this will purely be if somebody falls into the 22nd or 25th spot, second is that there will still be some realism to the picks (I’m not about to say CeeDee Lamb, Isaiah Simmons or Joe Burrow is dropping so low) and finally its not going to be wants, its going to be based on the needs as above (for example, Id like to see Herbert in a Vikings jersey, however there’s no point setting this pick aside to sit behind Kirk for 2/3 Years). I will cover 4 players, starting with the 2 potential picks at 22nd Overall and moving onto the 2 players potentially at 25th Overall.
With the 22nd Overall Pick, the Minnesota Vikings select… Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina.
- Height 6’5, Weight 324lbs, Arms 34 7/8”, Hands 10 1/2”
- No Combine Drills
Kinlaw is the perfect replacement for Linval Joseph, and showcasing some inconsistencies during his college tenure on his tape, the potential to drop low to the Vikings is paramount. A huge physical presence on the D-Line, his muscular build partnered with long arms and lean mass leads to a player considered a “menacing bull-rusher” by NFL Notes. Pairing him up with new FA Signing DT Michael Pearce, the pair would generate great Run Defense with the potential on both to utilise an explosive first step and huge physical presence, a factor which limited the Vikings effectiveness playing defence last season (Minnesota ranked 17th last season for Run Defence). Some details of his play will have to be refined, his snap reaction is somewhat slower than it should be at the next level, and refinement for technique for consistency will be critical in order to increase his level of play, but the potential to become an All-Pro is there for the DT from South Carolina, and under the tutelage of the Vikings and striking a partnership with Michael Pearce, the front 4 of the Vikings could become the best in the league.
With the 22nd Overall Pick, the Minnesota Vikings select… Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU.
- Height 6’0, Weight 197lbs, Arms 30 5/8”, Hands 9 1/8”
- Combine Results:- 4.46 Seconds (40 Yard Dash), N/A (Bench Press), 35.5” (Vertical Jump), 123.0” (Broad Jump), 6.94 Seconds (3 Cone Drill), 4.36 Seconds (20 Yd Shuttle), N/A (60 Yd Shuffle)
Fulton is a brilliant prospect, and taking aside the issues with behaviour for the sake of the draft mock due to the relaxation of marijuana usage (his tampering with a PED Test Sample resulting in a 2 Year Suspension in College is a blot on his record) its key to see why a talent like Fulton will only benefit the Vikings in a position in which is barren going into the 2020 season. Possessing the size (and the completion rate of 40% since 2018) means the Vikings gain a starting outside corner for the 2020 season, furthering onto this his skills at reading receivers, particularly the hands and eyes of such with his back to the ball, will be critical in becoming an effective playmaker at the higher level. Of course, Fulton has faults outside of the suspension issue. His route phasing from the press is inconsistent, and route-runners have been able to rather easily shake and separate away from Fulton in coverage. Fulton is also a confidence-based player, and should his head drop then his level drops, but with the right coaching (something which Zimmer could provide) then these kinks in play can be corrected and turn Fulton into a top CB1 in the NFL, and a leader for the Vikings Secondary.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
With the 25th Pick in the NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings select… Austin Jackson, OT, USC
- Height 6’5, Weight 322lbs, Arms 34 1/8”, Hands 10 1/4”
- Combine Results:- 5.07 Seconds (40 Yard Dash), 27 Reps (Bench Press), 31.0” (Vertical Jump), 115.0” (Broad Jump), 7.95 Seconds (3 Cone Drill), N/A (20 Yd Shuttle), N/A (60 Yd Shuttle)
If the Vikings are going to sign a tackle, then the 20-year-old from USC is the best option if he is on the board. A starting LT for USC, the player fits in with the “Minnesota Nice” climate that is often promoted with the Vikings, as shown in the summer of 2019 when he donated bone marrow to his younger sister. The player started all 13 games at LT in 2019 and earned first-team All-Pac-12 for his performances. An athletic specimen, his already outstanding frame and abilities are only capable of being improved upon and developed at the Pro-Level. He has nimble feet to match such gifts, and is capable of both long pulls on the line and WR Screen plays, making him capable in the run-game the Vikings clearly want to establish even further after a successful season “pounding the rock” with Dalvin Cook and Mattison. Jackson is great at creating imbalance in the rusher, has the ability to redirect against counters and is above-average on recovery, but has issues with technique and footwork, alongside needing to improve upper body and core strength. However, at 20 and his character, Jackson is the ultimate fit at LT for the Vikings and, should he drop, they should have 0 hesitation to get their man.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
With the 25th Pick in the NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings select… Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin
- Height 6’2, Weight 238lbs, Arms 32 3/4”, Hands 9 5/8”
- 4.65 Seconds (40 Yard Dash), 24 Reps (Bench Press), 32.5” (Vertical Jump), 115.0” (Broad Jump), 7.0 Seconds (3 Cone Drill), 4.31 Seconds (20 Yd Shuttle)
In 2019, after recovering from a foot injury in a comeback 2018 Season, Baun broke out as a College Superstar finishing with 19.5 Tackles for Loss, 12.5 Sacks resulting in 76 Total Tackles to earn Second-Team Associated Press All-American and First-Team All-Big Ten honours. He also added 1 INT, 2 Pass Deflections and 2 Fumbles. As a pass rusher, his twitchy and explosive nature on the edge is a nightmare for Tackles, and it seemingly shows signs to improve as he begins his development on the Pro-Level. He’s capable on the edge and has the speed and athleticism to cover RBs and match up with TEs in the spaces required for effective defence, alongside having a quick trigger to disrupt the backfield added to a good rip-and-run to flatten and attack the pocket. However, he perhaps doesn’t possess the correct side to become a full-time Edge Rusher within the NFL, and a tackle who possess great reach pesters him whilst attacking, and his momentum can often carry him beyond the attack arc. Despite this, Baun would make an ideal swing replacement for Griffen and share snaps with Odenigbo whilst possessing the qualities needed to play LB with Kendricks and Barr in the Vikings secondary, and would be an influential playmaker at the next level in multiple positions.
Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via Imagn Content Services, LLC
Should any of these be available, nobody can be upset about the Vikings early draft, but obviously staying at 22nd and 25th Overall isnt the absolute in this adventure, and with this expect anything from Slick Rick and Mike Zimmer, but the focuses should be above (and Austin Jackson is my one true pick above all else)