The Vikings definitely need to acquire offensive linemen to help Kirk Cousins. Failing to address the offensive line would be irresponsible, given how much guaranteed money the Vikings have given their new quarterback.
Minnesota needs a guard, but non-elite players at that position can easily be obtained in the middle rounds. It's more difficult to do so with talented cornerbacks like Mike Hughes. Besides, the Vikings need cornerback help after Nick Foles sliced and diced their secondary in the NFC Championship.
*** OTHER 2018 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. Will Hernandez/Isaiah Wynn/James Daniels/Billy Price, OL - Name a first-round interior lineman not named Quenton Nelson, and I'll tell you that he makes sense for the Vikings at No. 30.
2. Donte Jackson, CB - Another possibility to replace the ancient Terence Newman.
Rd. 2, Pk. 30
Nathan Shepherd, DT, Fort Hays State
There have been reports indicating that Sharrif Floyd may never play again, which is a shame. Sheldon Richardson was signed, but for just one year. Here's a long-term plan at the position.
Rd. 3, Pk. 30
Nyheim Hines, RB, N.C. State
The Vikings lost Jerick McKinnon this offseason, so they'll need to find someone new to pair with Dalvin Cook.
Rd. 5, Pk. 30
Alex Cappa, OT, Humboldt State
As mentioned earlier, it's not too difficult to find solid mid-round guards, so this is something the Vikings may opt to do.
Rd. 6, Pk. 30
Jack Cichy, OLB/ILB, Wisconsin
The Vikings are looking for linebacker depth, and they like Jack Cichy.
Rd. 6, Pk. 39
Davontae Harris, CB, Illinois State
Here's even more secondary depth for the Vikings, who were torched by Nick Foles in the NFC Championship.
Rd. 6, Pk. 44
Quentin Poling, OLB, Ohio
The Vikings will likely use a late-round pick for their linebacker depth issues.
Rd. 7, Pk. 7
Jake Wieneke, WR, South Dakota State
The Vikings could use another receiver as an insurance policy, as Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are so important to their offense.
The 6-foot-4, 304-pound Feeney is a well-balanced blocker. He has the strength to contribute as a run blocker and was effective in pass protection for the Hoosiers. According to Indiana, Feeney had allowed only one sack in 2,719 snaps - 37 career games - entering 2016. The senior missed a lot of time in 2016 with a concussion and also had to play some right tackle. For the NFL, however, Feeney projects as a power guard.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo
The Vikings grab a long-term starting running back.
Hunt averaged 5.6 yards per carry in 2016 for 1,475 yards with 10 touchdowns. He also made 41 receptions for 403 yards and a touchdown. Hunt (5-10, 208) was excellent at the Senior Bowl, using his speed to slash through the defense. He was very impressive as a receiver out of the backfield, too. Hunt doesn't have the size to be an every-down back in the NFL, but he could be a dangerous weapon as a complementary back and be an asset in passing situations.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Pat Elflein, G/C, Ohio State
The Vikings grab some offensive line talent, and they've shown interest in Elflein.
Elflein was a solid blocker in 2016 for Ohio State at center. That looks like his best position for the NFL. The 6-foot-3, 303-pounder played well in 2015. He was an excellent run blocker, opening holes for Ezekiel Elliott. Elflein is also reliable in pass protection. As a sophomore, he was a starter at left and right guard while doing a superb job of helping the Buckeyes to feature a powerful rushing attack.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Larry Ogunjobi, DT, Charlotte
The Vikings could use some interior defensive line depth given the uncertain future for Sharrif Floyd.
Ogunjobi (6-2, 304) turned in four seasons of solid production for Charlotte, including his senior year, when he notched 65 tackles with 13.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks and two passes broken up. Ogunjobi had 62 tackles with 2.5 sacks as a junior and five sacks as a sophomore. He put together a good week of practice at the Senior Bowl.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State
The Vikings could use some cornerback depth given the age of Terrance Newman and losing Captain Munneryln. Minnesota has shown interest in Kazee.
In 2016, Kazee recorded 65 tackles with eight passes broken up and seven interceptions. The 5-foot-10, 183-pounder didn't impress at the Senior Bowl, however. Kazee was the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year for with eight interceptions, 75 tackles, and seven passes broken up. He had 58 tackles, 13 breakups, and an interception as a sophomore. Kazee almost entered the 2016 NFL Draft, but the fourth-round grade from the NFL Advisory Board probably was a big reason why he wisely decided to return for his senior year.
The Vikings are Super Bowl contenders this year, especially after the addition of Kirk Cousins. Now, while they have a stable of RBs and WRs for him to utilize, they still need to protect him better. The Vikings could go either tackle or guard here, but I see them taking the mauling left guard out of UTEP.
Hernandez looks like an old school lineman--stout, thick, and strong. He's a mauler in the run game who would fit in well in Minnesota's gap scheme, and he can hold his own in pass sets. There are concerns about his size, as he's a bit short and isn't as long as some teams prefer, but he should overcome that with technique and sheer power. Solid pick for a team looking to make it to the Big One.
Minnesota is another team that has a very complete roster. In an offseason where they welcome in big name free agents in quarterback Kirk Cousins and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, head coach Mike Zimmer and his team have the Super Bowl in their sights. Minnesota has a 4-3 defensive line that only competes with the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles for title of best in the league. Of course, explosive wide receiver duo Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs return as well as linebacker duo Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr. The secondary could add talent, but is solid with the likes of safety Harrison Smith and corner Xavier Rhodes as the centerpieces. The return of Dalvin Cook will also be huge after he unfortunately got injured during his rookie season, leaving the only true positions to target being the final linebacker position, a third complimentary receiver and the interior offensive line. Without a linebacker with first round value, a couple of players to look out for here would be receivers Courtland Sutton, DJ Chark, and Christian Kirk and offensive linemen Isaiah Wynn, James Daniels, and Billy Price.
Isaiah Wynn gets the nod here as general manager Rick Spielman should like the run mauling ability of the stout Georgia offensive tackle. Wynn should convert to guard in the NFL short stature being 6'3" with 33.5" arms and 8.5 inch hands. Wynn blocked for the most effective rushing attack in the NCAA last season, paving the way for fellow 2018 running back prospects Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Wynn also has proven his versatility as he played the guard position during the 2016 campaign at Georgia. He has the traits of a strong and nasty guard who should be able to challenge either of the two guards Nick Easton and Tom Compton for the starting spot during his rookie season.
The Vikings could use an upgrade at guard and reunite Price with Pat Elflein. <br> <br>
Price (6-4, 305) impressed NFL evaluators, both with his work in fall training camp and in the games of the 2017 season. They say that Price plays within himself. They like his awareness and call him an above-average athlete. He isn't overly fast or twitchy like the Pouncey brothers, but Price has movement skills and is better than average in space. The sources also like that Price handles big nose tackles well, which can be difficult for centers and is a hard-to-find talent. As a result of his well-balanced play, Price is being viewed as a prospect who could go in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. One team source thought that if Josh Garnett and Laken Tomlinson were worthy of first-round picks, then Price could be as well because they feel Price is a better prospect than either Garnett or Tomlinson. Teams are projecting Price to be a starting center in the NFL, but he also has the flexibility to play guard. Price tore a pectoral muslce while bench pressing at the combine, but that shouldn't impact his NFL career once he works his way back onto the field.
The Vikings light up like the Moon drifting out from under the clouds. They turn to face their true love. He hands them the rose, and they blush with red cheeks like fresh strawberries. He leans in for a kiss. The Vikings swoon with joy. They say his name aloud, musically lingering on the tones of his title...
He replies. "Yes, now pay the man"
Its a match made in Heaven. Cousins lives in Michigan and apparently because of some government non-sense would pay less taxes somehow. He gets to throw to Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. They have a great defense to cover up for his deficiencies. It just makes sense.
The Vikings have few holes too. Offensive line is one of them. Riley Reiff is a decent left tackle, but he might be better at guard at this point. Miller is a freak athlete who can develop into a solid left tackle. He needs time, but the Vikings have the talent already on the roster to develop him over time without demanding too much of him.
The Vikings grab some tackle/guard depth and competition. Minnesota has shown interest in Williams as well. <br> <br>
Williams returned to play in the final couple of games of 2017 before shutting it down to prepare for the 2018 NFL Draft rather than play in his bowl game. He missed seven games during the 2017 season. After some bad performances to start the year, he went down with a torn knee meniscus and strained ligaments. Williams (6-5, 296) started at left tackle as a freshman and sophomore for the Longhorns. He was a steady pass protector in those seasons. <br> <br>
As we reported <a href="/nflhotpress/article/230">in the Hot Press</a>, Williams was receiving some mid-round grades from evaluators this season. The main issue that sources said was hurting Williams is a lack of strength. One AFC team in need of tackle help said they gave him a late third-round, early fourth-round grade. <br> <br>
I spoke with a NFC general manager who scouted Williams in person during 2017, and they were disappointed in Williams overall. They felt Williams lacked strength and believed him overhyped. This NFC general manager said they thought Williams was a fourth-rounder. Williams had a disappointing 2017 season opener against Maryland, getting flagged for numerous holds, including some that canceled out big plays for his team. He allowed some pressures and hits, too. Williams has some athletic ability, and some evaluators feel he should move inside to guard. That was given further credence at the combine, where Williams checked in with extremely short arms for an NFL offensive tackle.
Show/Hide Other Mocks with Connor Williams Going to Vikings
Rd. 1, Pk. 30
Mike Hughes, CB
Mike Hughes would have gone earlier than this if he didn't have some off-the-field incidents, but those aren't considered a big deal amongst teams. With that in mind, I think this is a terrific selection. Hughes is extremely talented, and he'll provide a big upgrade over Terence Newman in the slot. The Vikings' secondary was torched in the NFC Championship, and Hughes will help make sure that won't happen again.
As an added bonus, Hughes will strengthen Minnesota's return game. The Vikings needed help in this regard, and Hughes will be a dynamic threat as a return specialist.
Rd. 2, Pk. 30
Brian O'Neill, OT
Teams were down on Brian O'Neill because of a lack of strength. He's athletic, but his lack of power could be a problem. If he can add lots of strength, he could be a solid blocker for the Vikings, who needed to address the offensive line. O'Neill seems fine for this range, so this is a logical choice.
Rd. 4, Pk. 2
Jalyn Holmes, DE
I thought Jayln Holmes might go in the middle or end of the third round, so this is a decent value pick. Holmes would be better off in a 3-4, but he makes sense in the Vikings' scheme as well. The Vikings needed depth on their defensive front, and Holmes should be a quality rotational player.
Rd. 5, Pk. 20
Tyler Conklin, TE
Tyler Conklin has been a consistent receiving threat at Central Michigan. He'll pair with Kyle Rudolph over the next two years. Rudolph will be an impending free agent in a couple of seasons, so perhaps Conklin will develop into a starter by then.
Rd. 5, Pk. 30
Daniel Carlson, K
We've had some recent Super Bowl winners cut kickers and bring new ones in, so that should tell you how valuable that position is. Daniel Carlson deserved to be the top kicker taken, but I can't give this anything higher than a "C" in the fifth round.
Rd. 6, Pk. 39
Colby Gossett, G
Colby Gossett makes sense as a sixth-round prospect, and he'll help the Vikings by adding some depth to the offensive line. Gossett actually didn't allow a single sack as a senior, but his level of competition is obviously a big question mark.
Rd. 6, Pk. 44
Ade Aruna, DE/3-4OLB
The Vikings really wanted to address the depth on the defensive line, so it's not a surprise that they drafted several players for their front. Ade Aruna needs time to develop, but he's very athletic and explosive. I like the upside here at the bottom of Round 6.
Rd. 7, Pk. 7
Devante Downs, ILB
Devante Downs was probably going to be a mid-round prospect before suffering an injury to close out the season. It remains to be seen if he'll be ready for 2018, but the Vikings could be getting a solid value here if he is.