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1500ESPN draft simulation, Part 2: The first three rounds

By Matthew Coller

Now that the first wave of free agency is over, it’s time to turn our sights to the NFL Draft. Here at 1500ESPN, we prefer to draft simulations using the website Fanspeak to mock drafts. Read Part 1 here.

Simulations use team needs and mock drafts to determine an order, and then we make the Vikings’ selections. For Part 2, here are the picks at No. 30, 62 and 94.

Why Taven Bryan was picked:

There is no question the Vikings’ No. 1 need heading into the draft is offensive guard, but in this simulation there was a run on offensive linemen in the latter half of the first round. Top prospects Connor Williams, Isaiah Wynn, Will Hernandez went off the board just before the Vikings picked. With the second round likely to have a solid guard still available, it made sense to move to the next biggest need.

In most mock drafts, Bryan is taken before the Vikings pick because he has an extremely high ceiling. He could play a rotational role in Year 1 behind Sheldon Richardson or even off the edge and then step into the full-time three-technique spot in 2019.

What we know:

Bryan did not have a ton of sacks in college – only four last year – but he was constantly in the face of quarterbacks, racking up 20 hurries and seven QB hits. He ranked just a shade behind top DTs Vita Vea and Maurice Hurst in the percentage of snaps in which he created a disruption.

NFL.com draft profile:

“Talented defender with rare athletic ability and play traits. Bryan’s lack of production is due to a lack of instincts and feel for the position and he’s still in a developmental phase as a prospect. Bryan played inside at Florida but has the size and talent to play inside or outside. His instincts and feel are below average so his development could take time, but when he is a finished product, Bryan has the ability to become a disruptive, highly productive talent with a very high ceiling.”

What’s noticeable about Bryan is that he fits the profile of a Vikings three-technique DT. He doesn’t have ideal weight for the position, but he’s incredibly athletic, quick and strong.

His NFL Combine results via Mockdraftable:

Watch Taven Bryan

Bottom line:

The idea of an athletic freak working with D-line coach Andre Patterson is always attractive to the Vikings. By adding Bryan, they have a player who could become a star but doesn’t have the pressure of playing every down of his rookie year.

Other available options:

  • UCLA, LT, Kolton Miller
  • Iowa, C, James Daniels
  • Ohio State, C, Billy Price
  • Alabama, DT, Da’Ron Payne
  • Alabama, S, Ronnie Harrison

The hardest player to pass up was Daniels, an athletic interior lineman who would fit well into the system. In our first simulation, he dropped to the second round. No such luck this time.

How the bottom of the first round played out:

Round 2

Why Braden Smith was picked:

Since James Daniels and Billy Price were taken in the middle of the second, the next best guard was Smith, who is 6-foot-6 and possesses both strength and quickness. By all accounts, he is a good run blocker with the right mentality to fit into the Vikings’ O-line.

What we know:

Smith’s Combine results were terrific. He landed in the 96th percentile in the bench press, broad jump and vertical and in the 67th percentile of 40-yard dash. He graded very well by Pro Football Focus in nearly every area:

But there are some concerns. PFF’s scouting report calls him “unnatural in space,” which could cause him to struggle at times with the Vikings’ zone running scheme and screen concepts.

NFL.com draft profile:

“Braden Smith has an NFL-ready frame and will impress evaluators with the eyeball test. When the eyeballs are focused on the tape, they will see a player who is more than capable of matching power with power, but can be too regimented in his movement and overall play. Smith is a grinder whose play could vary greatly based upon the matchup across from him. He has size and power, but the holes in his game are unlikely to be patched up with coaching. He can become an average to solid starter.”

Bottom line:

The risk of passing on Daniels and Price in the first round put us in a position to pick a prospect in the second round who has some warts. Still, this year’d class was good enough to land a player who can step in as a starter. If a similar scenario plays out, we could see the Vikings trade up in the second to get a better prospect.

Why Anthony Miller was picked:

The Vikings signed Kendall Wright, but they should still be looking to add more talent around Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Miller caught 95 passes in 2016 and 96 in 2017 for Memphis and averaged more than 15 yards per reception.

What we know:

Miller plays with strength and competitiveness, which could translate well to the NFL. His one issue, as you can see below in the PFF graphic, was drops. Otherwise he was a highly successful receiver who wasn’t afraid to throw a block.

NFL.com draft profile:

“Ultra-competitive and highly productive, Miller plays with a chip on his shoulder that has driven him to out-work the man across from him. While he played both inside and out for Memphis, some teams could struggle with figuring out his best fit. His inconsistent hands are definitely a concern, but his ability to get open and to work all three levels of the field increase his chances for success as a WR3.”

Bottom line:

Past the first two rounds, the Vikings should be looking to add a playmaker. Miller appears to be the type who does not have a super high ceiling, but will have a good chance to become a solid player.

The post 1500ESPN draft simulation, Part 2: The first three rounds appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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