Vikings Seven-Round Mock Draft Pre-NFL Combine
Even with over two months remaining until the eyes of the football world turn to Las Vegas for the 2020 NFL Draft, speculation over how it might unfold has been underway for a while now. And with the league's biggest pre-draft event – the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis – taking place next week, the projection wheels are about to start turning even more vigorously.
We've done several mock draft roundups looking at who the Vikings might take with the No. 25 pick, the latest of which also expanded to the second round. Now it's time for me to give it a shot of my own, using The Draft Network's mock draft machine. I can't claim to have nearly as much knowledge as the experts who watch countless hours of tape, but I have done quite a bit of reading and researching on some of the top prospects at the Vikings' positions of need. I've been poring over mock drafts and scouting reports for roughly a month now – and I also watch a lot of college football every fall, for what that's worth – so I'm not going in blind here, at least when it comes to the first few rounds.
Even if my late-round picks are mostly meaningless, let's do all seven rounds. At the moment, the Vikings have a first (No. 25), a second (No. 58), a third (No. 89), a fourth (No. 122), a sixth (No. 185), and two seventh-round picks (Nos. 196 and 216). They traded their fifth-rounder for Kaare Vedvik in August in what amounted to a failed experiment. The Vikings are also expected to receive a fourth-round compensatory pick for losing Sheldon Richardson last offseason, plus two compensatory seventh-rounders. Those picks will be assigned in late March and are not included in this mock draft. As always, it wouldn't be surprising if Rick Spielman traded down at certain junctures to stockpile more picks, but we're going to stick with what the Vikings have for now.
Let's get to it, and we'll come back in a couple weeks to see how things have changed after the combine.
Vikings needs, in rough order of urgency: CB, OT, IDL, IOL, WR, S, EDGE, QB(?)
Round 1, Pick 25: Josh Jones, OT, Houston
Cornerback is probably the favorite for which position Spielman will address in the first round (it would certainly make Mike Zimmer happy), but offensive and defensive tackle aren't far behind. And I did strongly consider taking a corner here, with Jeff Gladney, Trevon Diggs, CJ Henderson and others presenting enticing options for a team that may lose three starting corners this offseason. Of the three, TCU's Gladney would've been my pick. But this is a deep CB class, so I elected to wait on that front and go with Jones.
He needs some polishing, but Jones comes with sky-high upside and is a perfect schematic fit for the Vikings. He has great size and length, and his athleticism should allow him to shine in a zone-blocking scheme. If Rick Dennison and Phil Rauscher can continue to develop Jones' technique, he could wind up being a steal late in the first round. This would potentially allow the Vikings to move Riley Reiff (with a restructured contract) to left guard, though Reiff might just be cut for cap purposes. The Vikings have been searching for a left tackle of the future for a long time, and Jones could be that guy.
Round 2, Pick 58: AJ Terrell, CB, Clemson
I liked the value of a couple safeties that were still on the board here – including Minnesota's Antoine Winfield Jr. – but I do think there's a good chance the Vikings make sure Anthony Harris sticks around, whether by signing him to a long-term deal or franchise tagging him, and I didn't want to wait any longer to take a corner. So it came down to Terrell and Utah's Jaylon Johnson, and I ultimately went with Terrell because of his versatility; the two-year starter for the Tigers can play both man and zone coverage and seems to have more upside than Johnson. Zimmer and new defensive backs coach Daronte Jones get an exciting corner prospect to kick off Day 2.
Round 3, Pick 89: Van Jefferson, WR, Florida
Even if there's no truth to the Stefon Diggs trade rumors – and I think trading him would be a huge mistake – the Vikings should look to add talent to their wide receiver room via the draft. Jefferson presents a strong value pick in the third round, as he is one of the best route-runners in the 2020 WR class and has excellent hands. Jefferson also brings impressive physicality and good initial quickness. He's not the most explosive receiver, and his upside isn't massive considering he turns 24 this summer, but Jefferson would be able to make an impact right away. Getting Kirk Cousins a new left tackle and an outstanding possession receiver within the first three rounds would, on paper, make his job easier going forward.
Round 4, Pick 122: Davon Hamilton, IDL, Ohio State
Hamilton is big (6-foot-4, 310 pounds) and experienced, having played in 40 games for the Buckeyes. He emerged as one of the best interior defensive linemen in the Big Ten in 2019 with a career-high six sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss. His positioning and football IQ complement some serious strength that allows him to hold up against double teams. Like Jones and Jefferson, Hamilton turned heads with his play at the Senior Bowl in January. He can get too finesse-y at times and needs to develop counter-moves as a pass-rusher, but I like this pick in Round 4.
Round 6, Pick 185: Lavert Hill, CB, Michigan
I went with Hill because he was the best remaining nickel corner, and the Vikings could use depth at that position with Mackensie Alexander quite possibly leaving in free agency. Despite being just 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, Hill has good strength and footwork that could allow him to carve out a role in the NFL.
Round 7, Pick 196: Geno Stone, S, Iowa
In addition to Harris, Jayron Kearse and Andrew Sendejo are also free agents, and it's very possible both could leave this offseason. There aren't any other safeties on the roster. Stone would be an interesting depth piece as a player with good anticipation and tackling skills.
Round 7, Pick 216: Gage Cervenka, IOL, Clemson
The Vikings may well want to take a guard earlier than this, but it may not be a huge need. They're set with Josh Kline at RG, and there's the possibility of keeping Reiff and moving him to LG. 2019 fourth-rounder Dru Samia could also fight for a starting spot on the left side. Cervenka is a ridiculously strong player who set the Clemson record for bench press reps.
Overall takeaways: Remember, this isn't a complete draft. Once compensatory picks are finalized, the Vikings will have another fourth-round pick and two more seventh-rounders, putting them at ten total selections. But I like this seven-player haul. Jones is one of my favorite targets at No. 25, so I was glad to see him still on the board in this mock. He could go even higher with a strong combine performance. Terrell was a good combination of need and value in the second round, and Jefferson is an immediate-impact guy at WR. We continued to address some of the Vikings' needs in the later rounds. We'll check back in with another seven-round mock after the conclusion of the combine.