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Bleacher Report – Vikings

NFL.com’s 5-round mock draft leaves Vikings short on future linemen

By Matthew Coller

Yes, the Minnesota Vikings need to add a playmaker. And yes, they certainly need a just-in-case option if defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd can’t return. But the top goal of this year’s draft should be to lay the foundation for the future of the offensive line.

In NFL.com’s latest five-round mock draft, the Vikings do not accomplish that goal. Here are their projected picks:

48. Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State

What it means:

After news of Floyd’s knee injury putting his career in jeopardy, many draft analysts moved defensive tackle to the top of the list for the Vikings. And McDowell seems like the natural choice since he has met with the team and fits their freakish-athlete mold. But there are plenty of concerns surrounding the Michigan State D-lineman. His NFL.com draft profile goes to town on his weaknesses:

“Footwork and technique are a mess. Plays with inconsistent base width and overall balance. Struggles to keep feet clean and ends up on the ground. Lines up in narrow, three-point stance from interior and struggles to fight back against down blocks and double teams. Can be washed out of his gap too often. High center of gravity made interior work a challenge at times. Can bend, but lets high pad level get the best of him. Doesn’t consistently utilize his length with first hands. Has to become better at controlling the point of attack with his natural attributes. Needs to punch and control rather than leaning on blockers. Production doesn’t match up with the traits and the talent. Scouts concerned about work ethic and leadership.”

Technique and work ethic concerns are a pretty bad combination. The Vikings’ defensive linemen will all tell you that D-line coach Andre Patterson, to paraphrase Kevin Durant, is the real MVP. Former third-rounder Danielle Hunter can attest to that. But bringing in a player with raw skill who also might not take to coaching very well is a pretty big risk – especially if the Vikings would be hoping for McDowell to start Day 1 in Floyd’s place.

Who’s left?

Of possible Vikings targets at 48, players still available in NFL.com’s mock were:

  • Indiana guard Dan Feeney
  • USC receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster
  • Ohio State receiver Curtis Samuel
  • Western Michigan tackle Tyler Moton
  • Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon

79. Chris Godwin, WR, Penn State

What it means:

Both Cordarrelle Patterson and Charles Johnson chose new homes in free agency, so the Vikings are on the market for another receiver or two. They briefly chased after Alshon Jeffery in free agency, but have not landed a replacement as of yet, so it would make sense to draft a receiver within the second or third rounds.

Godwin is 6-foot-1, 205-pounds and runs a 4.42 40-yard dash. Last season, he caught 59 passes for 982 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Nittany Lions. CBS Sports lists him as a second-round prospect and the fifth best receiver in the draft, but Pro Football Focus is less high on Godwin, ranking him as the 12th best at his position. PFF’s advanced stats indicate that he was Penn State’s most used downfield target, with more than 50% of his total yards coming on “deep” targets.

Who’s left?

Of possible Vikings targets at 79, players still available in NFL.com’s mock were:

  • Texas running back D’Onta Foreman
  • Pittsburgh guard Dorian Johnson
  • Toledo running back Kareem Hunt
  • Charlotte defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi
  • Washington State receiver Cooper Kupp

86. Derek Rivers, OLB, Youngstown St.

What it means:

Linebacker is toward the bottom of the list of needs for the Vikings with Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr in place, but Chad Greenway’s retirement does create an opening that the team has not filled in free agency.

Rivers is one of the draft’s wild cards. He racked up huge numbers at Youngstown St. with 37.5 sacks in four years and 14 last season, which ranked second in the nation. At 6-foot-4, 250-pounds, Rivers runs a 4.61 40-yard dash. His NFL.com profile suggests that he would need development time.

“Motor-based edge rusher with some tightness in his hips who used efficient hands and consistent effort to whip the competition in front of him. Rivers may lack the length and agility to be a consistent, stand-up rusher on the next level, but he has the talent to find a spot as a backup who could work his way into a more prominent role with time.”

While Rivers seems like the Vikings’ kind of prospect, it would be stunning if they didn’t select at least one offensive lineman with their first three picks.

Who’s left?

Of possible Vikings targets at 79, players still available in NFL.com’s mock were:

  • Virginia Tech tight end Bucky Hodges
  • Texas A+M tackle Jermaine Eluemunor
  • UCLA defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes
  • Miami guard Danny Isidora

120. Julie’n Davenport, T, Bucknell

While the Vikings spent big in free agency to sign tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers, they are more of a short term solution than long term. So Minnesota should be looking to select a player with the potential to develop into a franchise left tackle.

Davenport has that potential, but his NFL Draft Profile reads far too much like the other long-shot fourth-round picks the Vikings have taken the last two years (TJ Clemmings, Willie Beavers).

“Raw tackle lacking in technique but long on physical traits. Has been able to dominate against lower level of competition and his step up in competition during pre-draft workouts will either throw a wet blanket over his draft grade or send his stock soaring. Despite a lack of technique, his traits will have teams willing to draft and wait for him as a project. He will be a work in progress and might be forced to move to the right side.”

128. George Kittle, TE, Iowa

In search of another receiving threat, the Vikings pursued veteran tight end Jared Cook in free agency but lost out to the Oakland Raiders. They shouldn’t be too disappointed as this year’s draft is stacked with good tight end prospects. Kittle is blazing fast for the position, running a 4.52 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. He could provide a vertical threat from the tight end position, which is something the Vikings do not currently have. His NFL.com draft profile makes a comparison to Charles Clay.

160. Chris Carson, RB, Oklahoma State

Even with the signing of Latavius Murray, the Vikings still have room for another running back. Carson is a power runner at 6-foot, 218-pounds who put up good numbers at OK State this year, averaging 6.8 Yards Per Carry. He could fit in the Vikings’ offense as the grinder of a three-headed monster, though OC Pat Shurmur might be more interested in having all of his running backs be able to catch the ball out of the backfield.

Ranking Vikings draft needs by position

The post NFL.com’s 5-round mock draft leaves Vikings short on future linemen appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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