As compensation for a disappointing 2013 season, the Minnesota Vikings received the No. 8 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft. This top 10 selection presents the Vikings with an opportunity to add an elite prospect to a roster already filled with potential. The Vikings have been one of the most active teams in recent drafts and this year should be no different.
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman and new head coach Mike Zimmer have been very ambiguous about which player the team will draft tomorrow night. Many analysts have predicted that the Vikings will select a quarterback. However, with no definitive option in the first round, the Vikings may choose to go in another direction with their pick.
Former University of Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald represents an interesting alternative to drafting a quarterback in the first round. During his senior season, Donald produced eye-popping statistics. His 59 total tackles included 11 quarterback sacks and a nation-leading 28.5 tackles for loss. Donald also recorded three pass deflections and four forced fumbles in his final collegiate season.
For his defensive excellence, Donald earned a unanimous All-American selection. He was also deservedly presented with the ACC Defensive Player of the Year Award, the Outland Trophy for most outstanding interior defensive lineman, the Rotary Lombardi Award for most outstanding defensive lineman or linebacker and both the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Chuck Bednarik Award for the most outstanding defensive player in all of college football.
The excessively decorated defensive tackle continued to improve his NFL Draft stock at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine. Donald’s 4.68-second 40-yard dash time is the fastest time recorded by a defensive tackle in NFL Scouting Combine history.
The Vikings have glaring needs at both quarterback and linebacker, but Donald is simply too perfect of a system fit for Spielman and Zimmer to pass on. He would join 2013 first round draft pick Sharrif Floyd and offseason free agent signing Linval Joseph, creating a mega-talented Vikings interior defensive line.
Donald would also benefit from the opportunity to play for Zimmer. Donald has nearly an identical skill set to Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who recorded 29 sacks in 57 games while playing in Zimmer’s defensive system.
Keep in mind, this edition of the NFL Draft is very deep at quarterback. As a result, it is possible that the Vikings land a perfect system match in Donald and a franchise quarterback later in the draft.
While this pick would not address a team need, the Vikings could do much worse with the No. 8 overall selection than drafting a potential superstar in Donald.