Three Pairs of College Teammates the Vikings Could Take in the First Round of the NFL Draft
There's a realistic path – three of them, in fact – to the Vikings selecting a pair of college teammates with their two first-round picks in the NFL Draft. And not just any teammates, but a corner and a receiver who have presumably battled across from one another in practice for years. I had this thought today and tweeted about it, but now I'll expand on the possibility a bit.
The Vikings have pressing needs at both positions, and all six of these players are generally viewed as late first-round or early-second round picks, meaning they could be in play at 22 and 25.
LSU: WR Justin Jefferson and CB Kristian Fulton
Most analysts have this duo as the highest-rated of the three. In SI's latest big board, our Kevin Hanson has Jefferson at No. 16 and Fulton at No. 20, which suggests at least one of them could be taken before the Vikings are on the clock. But if they both fall, this could be a strong haul late in the first-round.
Jefferson had a monster junior season as part of LSU's historic, championship offense, catching 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns. The 6-foot-1 receiver then went out and impressed with a 4.43-second 40 and a 126-inch broad jump at the combine. Jefferson is a polished route runner with great hands, but it's unclear if he has the release ability to play on the outside in the NFL. At minimum, he's a strong No. 2 or 3 option out of the slot.
Fulton is one of the better cornerbacks in the 2020 class, though I've seen a wide variety of opinions on his potential. Like his teammate Jefferson, he's not going to overwhelm with athleticism, but Fulton's footwork, hips, and technique in man coverage are all traits that project well to the next level. He's got plenty of speed to stick with receivers on deep routes and is a solid tackler.
TCU: CB Jeff Gladney and WR Jalen Reagor
Hanson has Gladney at No. 36 and Reagor at No. 42 on his big board, but there are others who are much higher on this duo. Gladney is widely projected as a first-round pick, and Reagor has some first-round buzz as well because of his upside.
Gladney is competing with Fulton and a couple other players to be the third corner taken after Jeff Okudah and CJ Henderson. He's undersized for an outside corner at 5-foot-10, but we saw the Vikings take a similar player in the first round two years ago in Mike Hughes. Gladney has good athleticism and plays a physical, scrappy style of football that makes you think Mike Zimmer would love to coach him. He's a playmaker who had 26 pass breakups over the past two seasons.
Reagor is an electric athlete at the receiver position, having returned two kickoffs for touchdowns last year. He trailed only Michigan's Donovan Peoples-Jones in the vertical and broad jumps at the combine, and plays much quicker than his 4.47 40 would suggest. Reagor is a good route-runner, has a good release game off the line of scrimmage, and is a home-run threat with the ball in his hands. Don't be surprised if he ends up a first-round pick.
Clemson: WR Tee Higgins and CB AJ Terrell
Hanson has Higgins at No. 29 and Terrell at No. 38, but I might be higher on Terrell's pro potential than I am on Higgins'. With this duo, you're betting on size, length, and college production.
Higgins is one of the draft's more polarizing prospects. His proponents will point to his 2,100 yards and 25 touchdowns over the past two seasons, as well as his 6-foot-4 frame, long arms, and contested-catch ability. Higgins' detractors will point out that his lack of athleticism could hinder his ability to separate from NFL corners. He didn't run at the combine, and then posted a 4.54 40 with a 1.66 10-yard split and a 31-inch vertical at Clemson's pro day. Those are ugly numbers. I included Higgins on my list of players the Vikings should avoid in the first round, but I see why some are higher on him.
Terrell has a much more appealing athletic profile. He ran a 4.42 40 at the combine and then bumped that up to 4.37 at the pro day. His 129-inch broad jump was also quite impressive. Terrell has all the traits you want in a corner: length (he's 6-foot-1), mirroring technique, footwork, ball skills. People remember that he struggled in the National Championship against Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase, but the rest of his tape is elite stuff. Terrell is an underrated first-round option for the Vikings.
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