The 2014 NFL Draft is now just days away, and the final pick-by-pick mock draft has begun. Different from my previous mock drafts, I won’t be projecting who I would take, but who I actually think will be selected with the pick. Again I won’t be including trade possibilities simply because they’re limitless and totally unpredictable.
Quick recap: No. 1 Houston Texans (Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina); no. 2 St. Louis Rams (Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson); no. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars (Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn); no. 4 Cleveland Browns picked (Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M); no. 5 Oakland Raiders took (Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo); no. 6 Atlanta Falcons (Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M); no. 7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan). With the 8th pick, who do the Minnesota Vikings select?
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M.
Not many people are talking about this possibility, which I find a little surprising. Obviously the biggest need on the team is QB, and in this scenario, Blake Bortles (QB, UCF), who some say may go number one overall, is available for the taking at number eight. Still, I don’t think the Vikings are ready to use a top-ten pick on a raw, developmental QB prospect who has such a high bust potential.
Bortles certainly has a good skill set and a decent ceiling, but he’s a long, long way away from being a franchise QB. I think a more likely scenario is targeting a QB in the tail end of round one, just about the time the second tier of QBs starts coming off the board. Zach Mettenberger (QB, LSU) would be an ideal candidate for OC Norv Turners‘ offense, and could be had in that late first/early second range.
Besides QB, CB, despite what some may say, is the next biggest hole. Xavier Rhodes looks like a future star and Captain Munnerlyn is one of the best nickel backs in the league, but another starter on the outside is needed. This is just a tad too early for Darqueze Dennard (CB, Michigan State) and Justin Gilbert (CB, Oklahoma State), but if the Vikes trade down a couple of slots I could see it happening.
So we finally get to Evans. If the draft falls the way we’ve been describing, the Vikes will be in a position to add one of the best playmakers in the entire draft. At first glance receiver isn’t a pressing need with Greg Jennings and budding superstar Cordarrelle Patterson on the outside, and Jerome Simpson and Jarius Wright inside. A closer glance paints a more pessimistic viewpoint of the future.
Jennings will be 31 in September, is coming off one of the worst statistical seasons of his career and has a salary that soars up to nearly $9 million in ’15, ’16 and ’17. If you think the Vikes are going to pay him that you’re out of your mind. After this year his salary isn’t guaranteed, so barring a career year, his days as a Viking will come to an end. Simpson is riding out another one-year deal and is a constant headache off the field, and Wright has shown glimpses but still has to find some consistency. What’s left is Patterson, so you can see how Evans is a realistic option for Minnesota.
Evans is a monster at 6-foot 5, 231-pounds, with good speed (4.53 40-yard dash) and a gigantic catch radius (35-inch arms, 9.5-inch hands and a 34.5-inch vertical leap). Just throw the ball in his region and he somehow comes down with it. He could even make Christian Ponder look good (never mind, that throw I just envisioned in my mind turned out to be an INT).
With Patterson and Evans on the outside, Kyle Rudolph at TE and Adrian Peterson in the backfield, whichever young QB the Vikes draft will certainly have some impressive weapons at his disposal to expedite the developmental process.