Vikings First Round Mock Draft Roundup 8.0: The Final Edition

Will Ragatz

At long last, draft day is finally here, and a country starved for sports is about to get three days of the next best thing. It's going to be a lot of fun. It also means that pre-draft season  – over three months of mock drafts, scouting reports, and rumors – is coming to an end.

InsideTheVikings has two big pieces of content for you today to help pass the time until 7 p.m. central. First, and most importantly, make sure you check out our Seven-Round Vikings Mock Draft 5.0, which is our last full-length look at how the draft might play out for the Vikings.

Secondly, for the eighth and final time, we're bringing you a roundup of notable mock drafts from across the internet and their selections for your favorite team. This series began back on January 15th, when the most common picks at No. 25 overall were Louisville tackle Mekhi Becton and Florida corner C.J. Henderson, both of whom have been consensus top-15 picks since the NFL combine.

Version 8.0 consists of the final mock drafts from over a dozen well-respected national analysts. These are the versions of their mock drafts that are measured on accuracy after the fact, so they're meant to be as predictive as possible. Chances are, even in a draft that promises to be filled with surprises, one or two real Vikings first round picks are listed somewhere in this article.

As always, each pick will include the explanation from the writer of the mock draft, followed by my own analysis. Let's get to it. Happy draft day!

Kevin Hanson, Sports Illustrated (4/22)

Round 1, Pick 22: Josh Jones, OT, Houston

Mike Zimmer has talked about the potential of moving Riley Reiff to guard and Brian O’Neill from right to left tackle. A four-year starter at Houston, Jones has the length, quick feet and movement skills coveted in a left tackle.

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Round 1, Pick 25: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah

With Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander no longer in Minnesota, the Vikings could prioritize corner over wide receiver, given the wide receiver talent that will be on the board in Round 2. A fluid athlete at 6-foot and 193 pounds, Johnson has started 29 games over three seasons and has seven career interceptions and 28 passes defended.

InsideTheVikings analysis: The final mock from our draft guru Kevin Hanson has the Vikings adding a strong pairing in Jones and Johnson. Both fill positions of need, have high upsides, and perhaps most importantly, feel like excellent fits for what the Vikings want to do on both sides of the ball.

Albert Breer, Sports Illustrated (4/22)

Round 1, Pick 22: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

So this one worked out well for the Vikings. They get the fourth receiver off the board, and one with versatility to play inside or out in Gary Kubiak’s offense—and is plenty smart enough to pick it up quickly.

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Round 1, Pick 25: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah

Initially, I had Terrell here, and Kristian Fulton going to Vegas, and that should explain the volatility of the corner position beyond the top two guys. Some teams don’t have Johnson among the top seven or eight players at the position, and there’s obvious injury concern (he probably won’t be healthy until camp). But word is, the Vikings like him. So I’ll roll the dice here.

InsideTheVikings analysis: Breer's lone mock of the year sees the Vikings adding a highly-productive receiver in Jefferson. His route-running, hands, and burst make him the No. 1 candidate to be the fourth WR taken today. I don't know if Jefferson makes it past the Eagles at No. 21, but this would be a great pick if he does. The only question is whether or not he can play on the outside at the NFL level.

Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN (4/23)

Round 1, Pick 22: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

Minnesota is another team that needs a wideout, but it also could go after a defensive end or cornerback here. Ruggs is one of the fastest prospects in this class. He won't replace Stefon Diggs' downfield ability right away, but he has star upside.

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Round 1, Pick 25: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah

Mike Zimmer needs to go defense with his second pick, and Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander are all gone from last year's team. I don't have a first-round grade on Johnson, but it only takes one team in Round 1 to like him.

InsideTheVikings analysis: I'd be surprised if Ruggs fell this far, but the Vikings should absolutely take a chance on his upside if he does.

Matt Miller, Bleacher Report (4/23)

Round 1, Pick 22: AJ Terrell, CB, Clemson

With two picks in the first round thanks to the Stefon Diggs trade, the Minnesota Vikings can be smart about addressing their needs while keeping an eye on the board and paying attention to value.

Most would say they should pick a wide receiver at No. 22. But with a lighter crop of cornerbacks and a deep class of receivers, it's smarter for the Vikings to attack cornerback here and then address wide receiver at No. 25 or even later in the draft.

A.J. Terrell was battle-tested in the ACC and throughout Clemson's playoff runs. He's physical and fast, has ideal size and is ready to jump in and play man coverage on underneath and vertical routes right out of the gate. He's plug-and-play ready to go.

Round 1, Pick 25: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State

After grabbing a cornerback three spots earlier, the Vikings come back on the clock and can still draft an impact wide receiver in Arizona State's Brandon Aiyuk.

The Vikings will miss Stefon Diggs' ability to make plays after the catch. Aiyuk brings that and has the potential to be an even greater YAC weapon. He's fast, agile and has the open-field vision to make a major impact with the ball in his hands.

Kirk Cousins would love the option to check it down to Aiyuk and still generate big plays thanks to his run-after-catch tools.

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InsideTheVikings analysis: I would have no issues with this haul for the Vikings. Terrell is a lengthy shutdown corner and Aiyuk is a highlight reel waiting to happen.

Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com (4/22)

Round 1, Pick 22: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah

I believe Johnson is one of the most underrated players in the draft. I love his toughness and ball skills.

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Round 1, Pick 25: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State

I know the Vikings have a WR need, but they also must add another edge rusher to play opposite Danielle Hunter.

InsideTheVikings analysis: I've been saying for quite some time that I don't think the Vikings should – or will – take an edge rusher in the first round. It's just not something Rick Spielman does, and it's not that high on their list of needs considering the presence of Ifeadi Odenigbo.

Peter Schrager, NFL.com (4/23)

Round 1, Pick 22: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Trade Stefon Diggs and end up with Justin Jefferson with one of the four picks acquired? Not bad, if it works out this way for Minnesota. Jefferson put up eye-popping numbers last season at LSU, but there were skeptics on his speed heading into the combine. He then ripped off a 4.43 40, dazzled in interviews and showed why he's the fourth-best wideout -- if not better -- in this loaded class.

Round 1, Pick 25: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

Yet another LSU player goes off the board -- to a playoff contender in dire need of cornerback help. Fulton could be asked to play Day 1, and he'd be more than ready.

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InsideTheVikings analysis: A pair of LSU teammates come to Minnesota and get to stay in purple and yellow. I like it. Jefferson and Fulton would fill two huge needs for the Vikings and both have sky-high ceilings.

Lance Zierlein, NFL.com (4/23)

Round 1, Pick 22: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah

The Vikings have a huge need at cornerback after free agency. Coach Mike Zimmer likes long press cornerbacks, and Johnson is an ascending talent who fits the profile.

Round 1, Pick 25: Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State

Cleveland is an athletic, technically sound tackle who needs to add strength. But he would give the Vikings a chance to move on from Riley Reiff's contract.

InsideTheVikings analysis: Based on all the recent buzz, this feels way too low for Cleveland. Teams are enamored with his movement ability and upside.

Trevor Sikkema, The Draft Network (4/22)

Round 1, Pick 22: Josh Jones, OT, Houston

The Vikings have a handful of positions they could tap into with this pick, but the one with the biggest pay off could be the athletic Josh Jones. Minnesota can allow him to play either inside or at tackle to beef up its O-Line output. They can then address cornerback and wide receiver with later pick, including one not too far down this list.

Round 1, Pick 25: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah

Fun fact: After saying goodbye to Trae Waynes, Xavier Rhodes and Mackensie Alexander, the Vikings are losing over 2,000 total snaps from their cornerback room. It’s safe to say they need a replacement.

From what we're hearing, Minnesota is in on Jaylon Johnson. This pick could also be A.J. Terrell, Jeff Gladney or even Damon Arnette.

InsideTheVikings analysis: Are you starting to sense a theme here? There is an incredible amount of love for the Johnson-Vikings pairing in these final mocks. And I get it! His physicality, cover ability, versatility, and ball skills make him a perfect Mike Zimmer corner. He's still recovering from recent shoulder surgery, which is the only question mark. It sounds like there is legitimate buzz that the Vikings are huge fans of Johnson.

Kyle Crabbs, The Draft Network (4/22)

Round 1, Pick 22: Austin Jackson, OT, USC

The Vikings take advantage of the late run on tackles and pick up another athletic blocker to help them continue to win on the ground. Austin Jackson pairs quite well with athletic right tackle Brian O'Neill, especially if Jackson takes to Minnesota's coaching as well as O'Neill did. 

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Round 1, Pick 25: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah

The Vikings love taking cornerbacks in the first round. Jaylon Johnson fits the physical profile in the secondary that has been vacated by Xavier Rhodes, who was cut this offseason. 

InsideTheVikings analysis: Austin Jackson is right up there with Jones and Ezra Cleveland as the leading candidates to be the fifth tackle off the board. He's extremely young (turning 21 in May) and has incredible athletic upside. I can see the Vikings wanting to get in on the tackle sweepstakes by taking one of those three players, all of whom are scheme fits. However, it's worth noting that I've gone on the record as saying the Vikings should stay away from Jackson in the first round.

Joe Marino, The Draft Network (4/22)

Round 1, Pick 22: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina

The Vikings are rebuilding their defense and adding a piece like Javon Kinlaw could end up being the steal of the draft. He's the type of penetration-style presence that is needed up front in Minnesota.

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Round 1, Pick 25: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah

Jaylon Johnson is the type of corner I can see Mike Zimmer loving. A bigger cornerback with physicality, ball skills and coverage versatility is exactly what Minnesota needs as it overhauls the CB room.

InsideTheVikings analysis: Here's an interesting one. Kinlaw used to be regularly mocked to the Vikings several months ago, before he dominated the Senior Bowl and saw his stock continue to rise. A lingering medical question mark with his knee is the only thing that could cause Kinlaw to fall this far, and he'd be well worth the risk for the Vikings if that were to happen.

Benjamin Solak, The Draft Network (4/21)

Round 1, Pick 18: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

This is a big win for Minnesota. The Vikings grab WR3 in Henry Ruggs III later than many projections have Ruggs going. I could see Ruggs being a shocking early pick — I'm talking WR1 — because of his long speed, but if teams view him as an incomplete player and lower than the other top pass-catchers, he could slide. Ruggs is a quality blocker and will be a demon on Minnesota’s play-action shot plays. He can also rotate from the slot and out wide with incumbent Adam Thielen.

Round 1, Pick 25: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU

Tying the Vikings to Jeff Gladney has been too easy since the entire corner room fled in free agency, though there are other corners rumored to have Round 1 interest — Damon Arnette or Noah Igbinoghene — who could very well be in play here. I like Gladney for the title given his foot speed, success in press coverage and willingness to tackle.

InsideTheVikings analysis: A trade up! In Solak's final mock, the Vikings go get a falling Ruggs and give Kirk Cousins the fastest player in the entire draft. Ruggs' speed and reliable hands give him an otherworldly ceiling. And another rare mock without Jaylon Johnson! Gladney is another Zimmer-style corner who has excellent physicality and instincts. It's interesting that Solak mentions Arnette and Igbinoghene, who typically are viewed as Day 2 options but are both very intriguing.

Jordan Reid, The Draft Network (4/22)

Round 1, Pick 22: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah

The Vikings defense will look very different next season after losing starting core pieces in Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes. Cornerback is an obvious need, and Jaylon Johnson is the tough, hard-nosed and edgy player Minnesota often seeks.

Round 1, Pick 25: Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State

One prospect who’s seen his stock soar since the NFL Scouting Combine is Cleveland. In Minnesota’s zone-based blocking scheme, the former Boise State standout would be an ideal fit. Already having athleticism, but lacking power and advanced technique, sitting behind Riley Reiff for a season could help him possibly be the heir apparent as early as 2021.

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InsideTheVikings analysis: Cleveland and Brian O'Neill would be a remarkably athletic tackle duo for the Vikings for the next five-plus years. He's a perfect scheme fit, but has question marks in pass protection. The Browns are reportedly very interested in Cleveland, so he may not make it this far.

Danny Kelly, The Ringer (4/22)

Round 1, Pick 22: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah

After releasing Xavier Rhodes and letting Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes walk in free agency, Minnesota has a clear need at corner. Johnson’s a polished, stingy cover corner who could start right away for the Vikings. He’s also a strong tackler against the run.

Round 1, Pick 25: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

With Stefon Diggs now in Buffalo, the Vikings look to bolster their wafer-thin receiver corps by grabbing Mims at this spot. He brings size, speed, and top-end contested-catch skills to Minnesota. He has the wheels to get deep behind the defense and provides Kirk Cousins with another big-play threat in the red zone.

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InsideTheVikings analysis: If the Vikings are going to take a receiver in the first round, Mims would be a solid choice. His combination of 6'3" size and 4.38 speed is hard to find. Mims has shot up draft board over the past few months and may well end up being taken in the first round.

Mike Freeman, Bleacher Report (4/22)

Round 1, Pick 22: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State

When Stefon Diggs was shipped to Buffalo, it put the Vikings in the market for a wideout.

Round 1, Pick 25: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU

Gladney would be almost guaranteed to start for Minnesota next year.

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InsideTheVikings analysis: Aiyuk at 22 might seem like a reach, but his first-round buzz has been growing and growing of late. He's a game-breaking talent with the ball in his hands who has a high ceiling as a receiver and could take over kick and/or punt returning duties for the Vikings.

Dan Kadar, SB Nation (4/22)

Round 1, Pick 22: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah

The Vikings’ need for a cornerback has been obvious all offseason. Johnson, a bigger cornerback who can press at the line, would be a nice fit in Mike Zimmer’s defense.

Round 1, Pick 25: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

After trading Stefon Diggs to Buffalo, the Vikings need a wide receiver who can keep the pressure off of Adam Thielen. Mims is a big, fast receiver who can win jump balls and be an asset in the red zone.

InsideTheVikings analysis: I tend to prefer waiting until the second round for a receiver –and taking an offensive lineman instead – because of how deep this class is at the position, but I would understand going with Mims.

Peter King, NBC Sports (4/20)

Round 1, Pick 22: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama

The type of big cornerback GMs crave these days to face the bigger receivers colleges are churning out. With only Mike Hughes left in a once-rich secondary, the Vikings have no choice but to use first-round replenishment on a corner. This might be overthinking, but I wonder if being Stefon Diggs’ younger brother would bug GM Rick Spielman or coach Mike Zimmer. It certainly would be the first question I’d ask at the post-draft press conference.

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Round 1, Pick 25: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

Most receiving touchdowns in Clemson history: Higgins 27, DeAndre Hopkins 27, Sammy Watkins 27. Higgins needs to get stronger (6-3 ½, 216), but he’s the kind of receivers scouts think will improve at the 50-50 balls when he learns to be more physical. At 4.58 in the 40-yard dash, he’s no burner, but with a career average of 18.1 yards per catch, he’s got the kind of run-after-the-catch instincts that will serve him well at the pro level.

InsideTheVikings analysis: It's like this mock was made to spite me! Diggs and Higgins were the first two names on my list of players the Vikings shouldn't take in the first round. I can't see them taking Diggs after trading his older brother, and there are concerns on tape as well. With Higgins, the lack of speed and leaping ability makes me very worried about his ability to separate in the NFL. He'd be a fine pick in round two, but not in the first.

Charlie Campbell, Walter Football (4/22)

Round 1, Pick 22: Austin Jackson, OT, USC

The Vikings continue to build up their offensive line. They could use more tackle talent, and Jackson would be a great scheme fit for Gary Kubiak.

Round 1, Pick 25: AJ Terrell, CB, Clemson

The Vikings could use more cornerback talent. I go back and forth between Kristian Fulton and A.J. Terrell for this pick, but Terrell has the better skill set, so that could push him over Fulton.

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InsideTheVikings analysis: The four most likely cornerbacks to be taken by the Vikings in the first round are Johnson, Gladney, Terrell, and Kristian Fulton, with Igbinoghene and Arnette as outside contenders. And I think that's the correct order of likelihood. But that doesn't mean that's the ranking of the best players. Terrell and Fulton both have compelling cases as the best of the group.

Will Brinson, CBS Sports (4/22)

Round 1, Pick 22: K'Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU

I think they'll double dip on defense here and in this instance the Vikings are trying to make up for the loss of Everson Griffen.

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Round 1, Pick 25: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

Two LSU starters added to this defense isn't going to be the worst thing in the world.

InsideTheVikings analysis: I've said before that the one EDGE I would endorse the Vikings taking in the first round is Chaisson if he were to fall. He's got outstanding bend, length, and explosiveness and will most likely be taken somewhere in the teens. Fulton is the forgotten man among first-round corner possibilities, but his coverage skills are among the best in the draft. Don't rule him out just because some scouts are down on him.

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