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1500ESPN draft simulation, Part 3: The first five 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.

Here is Part 1, the first two rounds.

Part 2, the first three rounds.

See the entire draft here

Why Will Hernandez was picked:

In the previous two draft simulations, the Vikings took “luxury” picks with a tight end and defensive tackle, simply because they were too good to pass up. In this version, Minnesota selected the best player available at the biggest position of need. Will Hernandez is a mammoth guard who can move extremely well for his size. He would step in as a Day 1 starter next to Pat Elflein and help create a dominating run blocking O-line.

Other available options:

  • UCLA, T, Kolton Miller
  • Oregon, T, Tyrell Crosby
  • Iowa, CB, Josh Jackson
  • Ohio State, C, Billy Price
  • Iowa, C, James Daniels

In this iteration of the draft, there were four other quality offensive line prospects that the Vikings could have selected. They went with the best prospect with the highest ceiling. While Miller is getting a lot of buzz, he comes along with more question marks than Hernandez.

What we know:

At 327 pounds, Hernandez will be one of the heaviest guards in the NFL, but he also ran a 5.15 40-yard dash, which is in the 81st percentile at the position. He dominated the Combine, ranking in the 97th percentile in the bench press and posting impressive scores in the shuttle, cone and broad jump drills. Hernandez is also known as an extremely bright player with a nasty edge. Pro Football Focus ranks him as the third best guard in the class and scored him exceptionally well in nearly every area.

Graphic via Pro Football Focus:

His NFL.com draft profile says:

“Four-year starter at left guard and the most highly-decorated offensive linemen in UTEP history. Hernandez possesses a rare combination of power, balance, and athletic ability. He is a plus run blocker with the anchor and footwork to handle himself in pass protection as well. Though he lacks height and length teams would like, it shouldn’t hurt his stock much. Hernandez should be able to step in as an immediate starter with a high ceiling.”

Watch Will Hernandez:

Why Mike Hughes was picked:

The Vikings have two starting cornerbacks under contract and one rotational corner in Mackensie Alexander, who played 30 percent of snaps last year.

What we know:

Hughes allowed a 44.5 QB rating on throws into his coverage last season, according to Pro Football Focus and he was not beaten for any passes over 21 yards. He does lack in playing time, so there will be a development curve, but Mike Zimmer has quite the history of helping DBs improve.

NFL.com draft profile:

“Hughes simply hasn’t had the game experience he needs to put together the consistency in coverage that teams might like to see. He’s a projection-based prospect who has shown twitch, ball production and toughness in a small sample size. Despite being a little short, he is likely to stay outside in coverage. While teams wait for him to gain coverage experience, they can certainly lean on his tremendous talents as a return man. Hughes has potential, but there is still work to be done in coverage.”

Other available options:

  • Memphis, WR, Anthony Carter
  • Arkansas, C, Frank Ragnow
  • Clemson, WR, Deon Cain
  • Western Michigan, T, Chukwuma Okorafor
  • Georgia, DE, Lorenzo Carter

Watch Mike Hughes

Why Chad Thomas was picked:

The Vikings have a few intriguing young defensive ends, but none of them have made a push for a spot rotating into the lineup. Thomas’s ability against the run and pass could offer some different options up front in 2018. The hope would be that Thomas could eventually develop into a full-time player.

What we know:

Thomas is one of the largest defensive ends in the draft at 6-foot-6, 275-pounds. He is impressively powerful and effective against both the run and the pass. His productivity (six sacks, six QB hits, 28 hurries) was not among the best in the class, but it isn’t a huge concern either.

Graphic via Pro Football Focus

NFL.com draft profile:

“Has all the physical and athletic traits that a team could look for along the edge and he’s versatile enough to play in an odd or even front. Thomas’ draft grade is based much more on projection than production and he will need prove that he can convert coaching into success on the field as a pass rusher. Thomas has the potential to become a much better pro than college player, but his floor is lower than you might like.”

Watch Chad Thomas

Why Marcell Ateman was picked:

The Vikings signed Kendall Wright to a one-year deal, which will patch the hole at No. 3 wide receiver for now, but the team should still be on the hunt for more talent at receiver.

What we know:

Ateman was incredibly productive at Oklahoma State. He ranked fourth in the class in yards per route run, ninth in deep pass receiving yards and against press coverage, caught 15-of-20 attempts for 250 yards and three touchdowns, good for the second-best passer rating in the class, according to PFF.

In total, he caught 60 passes on 90 targets for 1,160 yards and eight touchdowns. He graded outstandingly well in every nearly area by PFF:

NFL.com draft profile:

“Long target with good size and functional speed. Ateman played in a vertical offense that took advantage of subpar secondaries in his conference and should fit into a West Coast offense as a pro. His frame and ball skills give him instant credibility as a jump ball threat in the red-zone while he continues to hone his skill set. Ateman should be an early backup with a chance to climb the ladder on the depth chart.”

Watch Marcell Ateman:

The post 1500ESPN draft simulation, Part 3: The first five rounds appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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