The Minnesota Vikings currently have eight selections in the 2016 draft – one in each round plus a second selection in the seventh round. The Vikings enter the draft with the 23rd pick in the first round (No. 23 overall), second round (54th), third round (86th), fourth round (121st), fifth round (160th – the 16th was used in the supplemental draft by the Los Angeles Rams and the 19th was forfeited by the Atlanta Falcons) and seventh round (244th) as well as the fifth pick in the sixth round (180th) and the 19th pick in the seventh round (240th).
The Vikings original pick in the sixth round (198th) was sent to the San Diego Chargers just prior to the start of last year’s regular season to acquire offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles. The Vikings got a pick in the sixth round from the San Francisco 49ers in the trade for linebacker Gerald Hodges. They acquired the other seventh round selection from the Buffalo Bills in the trade for quarterback Matt Cassel.
The Vikings greatest need is to get a big wide receiver that won’t shy away from contact and will fight the ball in the air. The Vikings acquired Mike Wallace from the Miami Dolphins to stretch the field and take defenders out of the box for Adrian Peterson. Wallace is a deep threat that prefers to get separation and run under the pass. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater does not have a cannon for an arm, but relies on reading the defense correctly and accurately throwing the ball. The Vikings entire receiving group is better at catching in the open field than in traffic.
The Vikings also need a safety to start opposite Harrison Smith. Free agent signee Michael Griffin should be fine in that role, but he is 31-years-old and not the long-term answer. Smith is a physical presence in the backend and is good in run support. He also has ballhawking abilities. The Vikings also need to find a safety to complement his skill set. His recent partner was Andrew Sendejo. He is a special teams standout teams player is better around the line of scrimmage. It did not work out. It makes sense that the best complement to start opposite Smith is a centerfield ballhawk type safety that is better in coverage than in run support.
The other biggest needs for the Vikings are along the lines. They need to add depth and possible future starters. They re-signed and added several free agent offensive linemen. They added guard Alex Boone and tackle Andre Smith and kept the versatile Mike Harris and tackle Phil Loadholt. Those four will compete with guard Brandon Fusco, center Joe Berger and tackles Matt Kalil and T.J. Clemmings for the five starting spots. Only Boone, Clemmings and Fusco are signed beyond 2017. The Vikings will likely select both a tackle and interior lineman (probably center) during the draft.
Along the defensive line, the Vikings could use another defensive tackle to get into the rotation. The top four entering last season were together for only a few games. Backup nose tackle Shamar Stephen missed most of the season with a toe injury. Starting nose tackle Linval Joseph and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd also missed multiple games with separate injuries. The player on the two-deep depth chart to be healthy all season was 31-year-old backup Tom Johnson. The draft is deep with defensive linemen, especially at tackle. Given the injury history of the group, the Vikings will add one and possibly two through the seven rounds.
Here is my first round mock draft.
No. 1 St. Louis Rams – QB Jared Goff, California.
No. 2 Philadelphia Eagles – QB Carson Wentz, North Dakota State.
No. 3 San Diego Chargers – OT Laremy Tunsil, Mississippi.
No. 4 Dallas Cowboys – DB Jalen Ramsey, Florida State.
No. 5 Jacksonville Jaguars – OLB Myles Jack, UCLA.
No. 6 Baltimore Ravens – OLB Leonard Floyd, Georgia.
No. 7 San Francisco 49ers – DE DeForest Buckner, Oregon.
No. 8 Cleveland Browns – DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State.
No. 9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – CB Vernon Hargreaves, Florida.
No. 10 New York Giants – RB Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State.
No. 11 Chicago Bears – OT Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame.
No. 12 New Orleans Saints – DE Kevin Dodd, Clemson.
No. 13 Miami Dolphins – CB Eli Apple, Ohio State.
No. 14 Oakland Raiders – ILB Reggie Ragland, Alabama.
No. 15 Tennessee Titans – OT Jack Conklin, Michigan State.
No. 16 Detroit Lions – OT Taylor Decker, Ohio State.
No. 17 Atlanta Falcons – DE Shaq Lawson, Clemson.
No. 18 Indianapolis Colts – OT Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M.
No. 19 Buffalo Bills – DT Sheldon Rankins, Louisville.
No. 20 New York Jets – QB Paxton Lynch, Memphis.
No. 21 Washington Redskins – DT Robert Nkemdiche, Mississippi.
No. 22 Houston Texans – WR Corey Coleman, Baylor.
No. 23 Minnesota Vikings – WR Laquon Treadwell, Mississippi.
No. 24 Cincinnati Bengals – WR Josh Doctson, TCU.
No. 25 Pittsburgh Steelers – CB William Jackson III, Houston.
No. 26 Seattle Seahawks – C Ryan Kelly, Alabama.
No. 27 Green Bay Packers – NT Andrew Billings, Baylor.
No. 28 Kansas City Chiefs – WR Will Fuller, Notre Dame.
No. 29 Arizona Cardinals – OLB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame.
No. 30 Carolina Panthers – DE Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State.
No. 31 Denver Broncos – QB Connor Cook, Michigan State.