Perfect Picks: Minnesota Vikings
With the NFL Draft approaching we will be looking at each team and evaluating where they need to improve. In this particular series we will run a seven round mock using the Draft Network Mock machine and find the ‘Perfect Picks’ for each franchise.
We will highlight four players that could help each team. This will feature picks 1 and 2, a mid round gem and a late round sleeper.
Mike Zimmer might just be at the crossroads of his Vikings tenure. His departure was muted at times during last season and is likely to be discussed should he not turn the Vikings back into a contender. While Zimmer has a brilliant coaching mind, he finds himself hampered by the Kirk Cousins contract.
The only way to succeed with an expensive, above average quarterback is to surround him with cheap talent. Placing even more importance on this year’s draft which could ultimately prove to be the turning point for this franchise.
Round 1 - Pick 14 - Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
It’s clear that the Vikings are desperate for some offensive line help. However, should Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater be off the board, as they were here, then they may go with the best player available. The offseason has focused on plugging gaps on the defensive side of the ball. It also included a contract restructure for Anthony Barr. The deal cleared cap space this year but also frees Barr to leave Minnesota as early as next year.
With that in mind, finding a linebacker as dynamic as Micah Parsons at pick 14 could tempt the Vikings to pull the trigger. Barr never really fully developed into the hybrid the Vikes expected, although he has had an extremely successful career. In Parsons, the Vikings get a playmaker who can be deployed from the edge. In addition to this, his athletic talents mean he should be an excellent sideline to sideline mike linebacker if developed properly.
As of now Parsons is instinctual, a good trait to have but it also causes him to miss run fits by being over-aggresive. There are character red flags but if they check out, the slew of highlight plays he stacked up against Memphis in 2019 should be enough to see a team fall in love in the top half of the first round.
Round 3 - Pick 78 - Walker Little, OT, Standford
Without a second round pick, taking Parsons in the first immediately places the front office under pressure to add a lineman at this spot. Riley Reiff’s departure leaves a gap at one of the tackle spots. The Vikings could be planning to move Ezra Cleveland from guard to the outside but if they can pick up a starting tackle here it would be a massive boon.
It’s going to be nearly two full seasons since Walker Little played in a competitive football game. That in itself will be enough for some teams to remove Little from their big boards. A serious knee injury in the 2019 season opener will need to be okayed by doctors since Little never returned to prove his fitness, opting out of Stanford’s 2020 season. He was the first freshman to start at left tackle for the Cardinal since 2000 and excelled in his sophomore year. At 6’7, 320lbs he has the size to suggest, if fit, he may be a starting tackle you can grab for a bargain here in the third round.
Mid Round Gem - Pick 90 - Tyree Gillespie, S, Missouri
The Vikings acted to address the hole left by Anthony Harris in their secondary this offseason. That being said, the addition of Xavier Woods on a relatively cheap one-year, ‘prove it’ deal should not deter Minnesota from dipping back into the safety market. Veteran Harrison Smith is a free agent in 2022 and expecting Josh Metellus to become a starter a year from now would seem a stretch.
Missouri’s Tyree Gillespie should be highly coveted given his versatility. He possesses the elite range needed to track and tackle across the field. He has the necessary thump in the tackle to win when playing closer to the line of scrimmage and the coverage skills to play deep in cover 1 and cover 2. His signature game came against Alabama and brought his name to national attention. Gillespie should have the ability to start in the NFL immediately, something not to be sniffed at considering the price point.
Late Round Sleeper - Pick 199 - Tre McKitty, TE, Georgia
Tre McKitty may be one of the more difficult evaluations in this draft cycle. Part of a fairly anaemic Florida State offense, he was a graduate transfer to Georgia. You would hope that would have boosted his stock. However, with only four games and six receptions it was a rather underwhelming full stop to his collegiate career. McKitty possess the desirable size (6’5) and build the NFL looks for in tight ends. He was deployed in the H-Back role for a lot of his career but flashed the YAC ability that could mean someone is willing to take a flier on what is a pure projection at this point.
The Vikings will be hoping that former Alabama standout Irv Smith Jr will take over from the recently departed Kyle Rudolph. Don’t expect McKitty to come in and challenge Smith but he is a nice little piece that can be utilised in a multitude of ways. Surrounding Kirk Cousins with weapons is a must and McKitty offers a nice wrinkle to an offense that has a bevvy of talent already at it’s disposal.
Draft In Full:
14. Micah Parsons, Penn State (LB)
78. Walker Little, Stanford (OT)
90. Tyree Gillespie, Missouri (S)
119. Jaelon Darden, North Texas (WR)
125. Charles Snowden, Virginia (LB)
134. Adetokunbo Ogundeji, Notre Dame (DT)
143. Rodarius Williams, Oklahoma State (CB)
157. Robert Jones, Middle Tennessee State (iOL)
168. Kylin Hill Mississippi State (RB)
199. Tre McKitty, Georgia (TE)
223. Tedarrell Slaton, Florida (DT)
formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at stripehype.com.