Byron Jewell | May 3rd, 2020
The Vikings had a busy draft weekend, with a grand total of 15 selections. They arguably had the best draft in the league and drafted some instant impact players that are ready to play from day one and guys who have high ceilings and will need some patience and coaching. Their total of 15 picks is a new record for selections since the change to the 7-round format and they also made a total of four trades. It’s a lot to take in if you’re a Vikings fan, so let’s break it down.
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Round 1, Pick 22: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
With the absence of Stefan Diggs after he was shipped to Buffalo, the Vikings badly need a receiver opposite Adam Theilen. Jefferson is a great compliment to Theilen as he can play any receiver position on the field while also being very underrated as an athlete and excellent route runner. He will be a great fit in offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s scheme and this was great pick overall as he was my WR4 and somehow slipped past the Eagles. Instant impact playmaker from day one and will be a rookie starter.
Justin Jefferson is not just a slot WR. He played on the outside in 2018 and was LSU’s go-to guy. Here’s a good example of his speed and body control helping him win on a deep route. pic.twitter.com/D4o8J4KbZP— Will Ragatz (@WillRagatz) April 28, 2020
Round 1, Pick 31: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
Gladney is one of the best corners in the class and fills a massive need and hole on the Vikings roster. Mike Hughes is now the top corner on the team, but with all due respect to Hughes, they needed to add a lot of talent to this position group.
Gladney is one of the top man cover corners in the class and his game is built on excellent athleticism and ball skills. He’s pretty versatile as well with the ability to play both man and zone at an effective level with great foot speed and reactionary quickness. He’ll be a rookie starter from day one and has a really high ceiling.
Full Scouting Report here.
Jeff Gladney with four pass breakups while shadowing Denzel Mims: pic.twitter.com/8hqjgSLYaa— Nick Olson (@NickOlsonNFL) April 30, 2020
Round 2, Pick 58: Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State
The Vikings were in trade talks with the Redskins centered around offensive tackle, Trent Williams, on Day 1 of the draft. Ultimately the trade fell through, leading the Vikings the selecting Cleveland with their 2nd round pick.
Cleveland is an interesting player and has one of the wider ranges in projection of play. His arm length is less than ideal for an offensive tackle and lacks play strength, leading to many thinking he is a guard at the next level. On the other hand, Cleveland is an elite athlete for his size with great movement skills that’s rare at the tackle position. He’s gonna need some development and patience, but this could lead to a huge payoff down the road.
Round 3, Pick 89: Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State
The Vikings double-dipped early with taking two cornerbacks in the first 3 rounds. He is an excellent zone corner who has great awareness and anticipation. He was getting 1st round buzz until he ran an awful 4.64 at the NFL Combine but he’s still an interesting prospect with good intangibles.
Cam Dantzler’s tape is awesome. A 4.67 40 time puts him in awful historical company though. There are very few outliers who have run a time like that. But this is a guy who has shut down Ja’Marr Chase and other top SEC WRs. I’m betting on Dantzler. pic.twitter.com/LbqcbDTpkU— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) April 5, 2020
Round 4, Pick 117: D.J. Wonnum, Edge, South Carolina
The Vikings discovered Wonnum when they were watching Javon Kinlaw tape, and he stood out to defensive line coach Andre Patterson. Wonnum had an ankle injury that cost him most of his junior season and doesn’t have any clear pass rush plan, which are concerns. He does have a high motor player with a good awareness but lacks a lot of qualities with a small ceiling.
Round 4, Pick 130: James Lynch, IDL, Baylor
James Lynch was a super productive college player with a breakout 2019 campaign with 19.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. He’s initially gonna be an interior pass rusher, but some think he’s better suited to play on the outside. He has an extremely high level of competitiveness with great hands, but he needs to figure out counter-attacks against longer players with his lack of length. He projects as an initial interior pass rusher but will hope to expand his game.
Round 4, Pick 132: Troy Dye, LB, Oregon
Dye is a linebacker/safety hybrid type player but he projects best as a linebacker. He has excellent athleticism which allowed him to move all over the field at Oregon and that versatility will be beneficial throughout his pro career. He suffered a torn meniscus that kept him out of all pre-draft workouts which ultimately dropped his draft stock, but with the ability to defend the slot, excellent range, and explosiveness he should have a chance to start from day one and be a key member on special teams.
Troy Dye is finally drafted 132nd overall to the Minnesota Vikings pic.twitter.com/JrjxknOADJ— Barstool Ducks (@BarstoolDucks) April 25, 2020
Round 5, Pick 169: Harrison Hand, CB, Temple
The Vikings fittingly drafted three cornerbacks during this year’s draft, after losing the three top corners on the team in free agency. Hand will likely just be a depth piece but he’s still an intriguing player. He has nice physicality, especially at the line of scrimmage, and is a nice run support defender. He’s gonna need time to work on his technique but he should be at least a good special teams player and could even play safety too if need be.
Round 5, Pick 176: K.J. Osborn, WR, Miami
Even though Jefferson was selected in the first round, the Vikings still need depth at the receiver position. At first, Osborn will be nothing more than a potential kick and punt returner, with his 4.48 40-yard dash speed. Osborne was also Miami’s top receiver from last season and will hope to earn the last receiver spot open on the roster.
Round 6, Pick 203: Blake Brandel, G, Oregon State
Brandel was a tackle at the college level, but with a lack of play strength and technique, he’s best at guard. He’s huge at 6’7”, started 48 games in college, and is sneaky athletic but most likely just a practice squad player with depth piece upside.
Round 6, Pick 205: Josh Metellus, SAF, Michigan
Metellus is an interesting player who got better every year at Michigan. He shows nice physicality and is more of a run-stopping safety for now. He had 74 tackles and 4 tackles for loss. Metellus should compete for the backup safety spot behind Harrison Smith.
Round 7, Pick 225: Kenny Willekes, Edge, Michigan State
Willekes was a great value pick this late in the draft. Many projected him to go a couple of rounds earlier but he’ll be competing with Wonnum for the backup defensive end spot. Like Wonnum, Willekes is a high motor guy who gives his full effort every play. He was an eye-opener at Senior Bowl, has an underrated first step, and was a super productive college player. His play strength may limit his upside but this overall a good pick this late.
That didn’t take long💨— PFF College (@PFF_College) January 25, 2020
Kenny Willekes gets to Justin Herbert!
Round 7, 244: Nate Stanley, QB, Iowa
With Trevor Siemian likely pegged as a backup to Kirk Cousins, Stanley will have to work his way up from the third-string position. He lacks a lot of physical qualities needed at the quarterback position and his mental processing needs a lot of work. He does have great ball security, experience, and above-average arm talent, so he could potentially take the backup spot in a couple of years.
Round 7, Pick 249: Brian Cole, SAF, Mississippi State
Brian Cole was picked here because the Vikings have no depth at either safety position. He also provides some nice special teams upside. He’s a super physical player with some impressive hit power but looks like a lost puppy in coverage. He has poor anticipation skills and can’t play in zone coverage well.
Round 7, Pick 253: Kyle Hinton, G, Washburn
Kyle Hinton is a small school guy with nice power and intriguing athleticism. He ran a ridiculous 4.70 40-yard dash at the Kansas State Pro Day and put up 34 bench reps. He played tackle in college, but with those nice physical attributes, he could slide inside and has a chance to make the team as a reserve.
Overall Grade: A
General Manager Rick Spielman went into draft weekend on a mission and came out victorious. The Vikings nailed this draft on a talent and need standpoint. They have arguably five rookies that can start this season with multiple other guys who haven’t scratched the surface of their potential. A home run draft from Minnesota and they will now look to push for the playoffs again this year.
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images