Easing into the Waters
A couple weeks ago I began the draft analysis process by looking at a couple positions that the Vikings could (and maybe should) identify over the first two rounds, in an effort to get even better than they were in 2017. In case you want a refresher, you can find it here.
But that was just the top end of the draft. As they've successfully demonstrated over the last few years, it's crucial to find players in the late part of the draft and after it, in order to succeed. That's evidenced by a gem that the four letter network dropped about the Vikes.
Will the Vikings brain trust trade down to draft more players in the fifth, sixth or seventh round and also to acquire more picks next year? VERY LIKELY! But that's too speculative at this point so I'm going to go with the information that's available right now.
With a pick in each of the third, fifth and sixth rounds, the Vikings could well come away with five contributors. Granted, that's the longest of long shots because of the talent that's already present on the roster - but could happen.
Onward and down I go.
The third round may be the best time to select a high caliber player, sliding down draft boards. The consummate example as far as I'm concerned of a slider is and will continue to be La'el Collins. Think how much better this offensive line group would be if the Vikings had taken him in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh round a couple years ago. I'll continue to harp on that until the situation is repeated and the Vikings get it right. Diatribe over so for now I'll move on from it.
If there aren't any sliders to be taken, adding more fire power to the defense would make a lot of sense in the third. Depending on some contract extensions, linebacker may soon become a position dripping with uncertainty.
Even if that isn't how the off-season goes, improving the d-line may make even more sense. Specifically addressing the edge rusher position could help to continue the line's effectiveness and borderline dominance for the next five to seven years. There are a pair of rushers from Southern Cal that I'd hope they would at least look at. I'd prefer Rasheem Green over Porter Gustin but either one could be a solid addition late in the third.
Alternatively, they could do well to look for another tight end or even a running back.
There are as many as five tight ends with rankings in the high middle rounds of the draft. Getting a true dual threat (blocking & catching) would be ideal but since David Morgan has proven to be extremely valuable, tabbing someone who is able to catch better his ability to block would be nice. The guy I'd considering choosing may be a little light on the scales but that can be resolved. Dalton Schultz (Stanford) comes from a pro style offense where his numbers won't wow anyone but would (likely) help to shorten the learning curve to the pros. It wouldn't be to replace Kyle but just as a way to further enhance the offense.
And then there was the running back position. Finding a new sous chef hinges on what happens with McKinnon & Murray. I like Jerick as insurance for Dalvin but the market will determine whether he's priced himself out of the Vikings range. Even if the Vikings offer him more money, he seems to want more playing time then they would offer so he may go elsewhere regardless. I would much rather see Latavius' money get shuffled to Jet and then draft someone to do what Murray does. With that in mind I'd lean toward LJ Scott (Michigan State) as the new bruiser back. He's not as tall as LM but he's one of the biggest backs in the class and would free up the salary space.
If the goal is to find a McKinnon type back up, well this draft seems rich with possibilities. There are as many as 20 running backs with grades from the fourth round and higher. That's A LOT to choose from! This year showed the importance of depth so even though we all want Dalvin back at 90 - 100%, that may not be the case - especially over the first few weeks of the season. If they decided to go running back in the third instead of waiting, Martez Carter is a sneaky name that could add another dimension to the playbook. He measures almost identically to Jerick when he came out of Georgia Southern, but Carter wasn't playing quarterback and has gotten some comparisons to Tarik Cohen. Those are enough green lights for me!
Whichever one they have to replace, I'm fully on board with the notion that they should grab another back this year because the class could turn out to be almost as good as 2017's.
I know that's a lot to digest for a third round pick but with the absence of a fourth, it's a crucial spot in the draft and thus deserves extra attention!