2014 NFL Draft: Minnesota Vikings’ Seven-Round Mock 1.0
All Seven Rounds Mocked for the Vikings
In less than three months, the Minnesota Vikings will be tasked with improving their roster through the 2014 NFL Draft. With eight picks currently at their disposal, there should be plenty of opportunities to upgrade when draft day rolls around.
During the draft, the biggest concern the Vikings must address is at quarterback. After watching all three of their passers flounder in 2013, it’s time to take a step in a different direction. Josh Freeman won’t be re-signed, Christian Ponder is slated for backup duty and Matt Cassel voided his own contract in order to test free agency. That’s why finding a new quarterback via the 2014 NFL Draft will be of the utmost importance.
The Vikings have other concerns that must be taken care of as well. The cornerback position was a serious sore thumb throughout the 2013 campaign, which means new playmakers are needed. After releasing their middle linebacker this offseason due to off-field issues, finding a capable replacement could become a top priority during the draft. They could even look to make upgrades along the offensive and defensive lines when the draft kicks off on May 8.
Either way, the Vikings must hit on their picks. They suffered from an unexpected tumble in 2013, putting up a pitiful 5-10-1 record. Making the most of their eight available selections will be crucial in terms of long-term improvement for Minnesota.
Here’s a look at what the Vikings could do with all eight of their picks when the 2014 NFL Draft arrives.
1st Round: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
While it’s very likely that Bortles could be off the board before the Vikings are on the clock, this would be the ideal situation for Minnesota. The UCF product is a well-rounded quarterback, with plus athleticism, a terrific arm and the size/speed/strength combo to make plays with his feet. The Vikings need a new quarterback under center in 2014, and Bortles would be a terrific route to take moving forward. If he's available at No. 8, this is a no-brainer.
2nd Round: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
With Xavier Rhodes solidified as one starting cornerback, the Vikings need another top-flight cover man to handle the opposite side of the field. Fuller isn’t a finished product, but what he’s shown during his time at Virginia Tech is more than enough to warrant a second-round pick. He’s physical, tough and a punishing hitter. Plus, he’s pretty good at keeping opposing receivers in check. The Vikings need to set a physical tone moving forward, and Fuller is a great way to do exactly that.
3rd Round: DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State
Seeing as Kevin Williams will likely leave via free agency, the Vikings need some more help at defensive tackle. Sharrif Floyd is expected to take over the three-technique, but Minnesota has long been disappointed with their nose tackle play. Jones has the size and strength to help give them a dominant presence in the middle of the defensive front. He’s powerful, stout against the run and offers some pass rush ability as well. Sounds like a much better option than continuing to settle on Letroy Guion.
3rd Round (via SEA): Jordan Zumwalt, ILB, UCLA
After the release of Erin Henderson, the Vikings are in serious need of a new middle linebacker. Seeing as they have limited options currently on the roster, adding a player like Zumwalt to the mix makes plenty of sense. The former Bruin is a hard-nosed, physical player who thrives on dominating his opposition. He flies to the football against the run, and shows good awareness as a pass defender. If the Vikings want someone to set an aggressive tone for their defense, Zumwalt is the man to do it.
4th Round: Brandon Linder, G, Miami (FL)
Charlie Johnson is headed for free agency and might not be re-signed. The next option at left guard is Jeff Baca, a second-year player who saw all of four snaps during his rookie season. That’s why bringing in more capable bodies at guard makes sense for the Vikings. Linder is big, but uses his quick feet and fluid athleticism to be a reliable blocker. His strength and confidence will need some work at the next level, but he would easily be a valuable asset in Minnesota.
5th Round: Willie Snead, WR, Ball State
Depending on what happens during free agency, the Vikings might not have a need for wide receiver depth. In this case, though, let’s assume that they do. Snead isn’t an electric receiver who is going to burn corners for long touchdowns or turn slants into six points. Instead, Snead is a reliable receiver who catches everything that comes his way and uses his smarts to create separation. The Vikings must be tired of inconsistent receivers like Jerome Simpson, and that’s why Snead is a great fit.
6th Round: Bennett Jackson, CB, Notre Dame
Considering how awful the Vikings were at cornerback last season, adding more than one via the draft might just be necessary. They already landed Fuller in the second round, and bring in more depth in the form of Jackson. The Vikings have recently been fond of Notre Dame defensive backs, and Jackson is the latest in a long line of playmakers. With outstanding leadership skills and the coverage instincts a coach would love to work with, Jackson seems like a solid project for the Vikings to develop.
7th Round: Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford
Barring something unforeseen, Jared Allen won’t be with the Vikings in 2014. If that’s the case, they’ll need to go out and find some extra help at defensive end. While free agency might be the best option, bringing in some depth via the draft wouldn’t hurt. Gardner is a middle-round talent who should fall due to injury issues. If the Vikings can develop him slowly and give him the time/coaching he needs, the Stanford alum has the tools to grow into a quality defensive end.