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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Vikings 7-round mock draft 3.0: Za’Darius Smith signing changes things

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We are two weeks away from free agency and the picture is becoming clearer. For the Vikings, they are being very calculated with their additions and stop maneuvers.

The latest of these is the signing of running back Za’Darius Smith. In doing so, the Vikings have created one of the best running back tandems in the league and now have more flexibility when it comes to the draft.

You can check out my previous mock drafts below.

Mock Draft 1.0
Mock Draft 2.0

Ready

Vikings Twitter explodes after Za’Darius Smith signing

Round 1, Pick No. 15: Florida CB Kaiir Elam

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Trade: The Vikings trade pick 12 to the Eagles for pick 15 and pick 124.

Best Available:

-Liberty QB Malik Willis
-WR Garrett Wilson
-WR Drake London
-IDL Jordan Davis

From the perspective of trying to predict and look at different scenarios, taking Willis was not in the cards. If I’m making the selection, it’s absolutely the move, but I digress. At No. 12, the top three cornerbacks were off the board. So I got back the fourth-round pick lost in the Chris Herndon trade.

Ed Donatell’s defense is likely to prioritize press coverage corners and Elam is among the best in this class at that. He can also play in the drop zone, excelling with his ball skills in both situations. This is higher than he normally goes, but with the top three gone, Elam is recognized for the talent that he has and not just pressured by a Gator team that was lousy last season.

Round 2, Pick No. 46: Texas A&M DL DeMarvin Leal

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Best Available:

-Alabama LB Christian Harris
-North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell
-Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker III
-Georgia S Lewis Cinema
-Baylor S. Jalen Pitre

Security is incredibly tempting here. Cine and Pitre would give an excellent game to a supporting player who needs help. In this draft, the focus is on passing pass rush, a critical element to the success of Donatell’s defense.

The Vikings got their running back and cornerback. Now, it’s time to get an inside quick pass. Although he weighs about 285 pounds, Leal is an inside expert, rushing the passer with speed and excellent technique. There is the question of whether he needs to add weight to play technique 3 or lose weight to play advantage, but in this defense, he can be himself, giving Donatell another weapon to unleash.

Round 3, Pick No. 77: Ohio State TE Jeremy Ruckert

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Best Available:

-Nevada QB Carson Strong
-Cincinnati LB Darrian Beavers
-Wisconsin LB Leo Chenal
-Alabama DT Phidarian Mathis

Earlier in the draft, the Vikings prioritized defensive tackle and strengthened the linebacker position in free agency. Now, they begin to transition to build up the offense.

Ruckert didn’t have much production at Ohio State, but that was due to the wide receiver’s talent. In 10 years, we could be looking at the Buckeyes 2021 WR room as the best in college football history. Ruckert came into the Senior Bowl without much anticipation and showed off in style with his road run, separation and soft hands.

He projects to be a more productive pro than a college player and will provide much-needed depth at the position with a long-term fix for Irv Smith Jr. if he leaves for free agency after the year.

Round 4, Pick No. 124: Western Kentucky EDGE Deangelo Malone

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Trade: The Vikings trade pick 12 to the Eagles for pick 15 and pick 124.

Best Available:

-Alabama RB Brian Robinson Jr.
-Penn State LB Brandon Smith
-Missouri RB Tyler Badie
-Baylor LB Terrell Bernard

At this point in the draft, many of the top prospects available are running backs and linebackers. The Vikings needed some edge depth and they found it with Malone.

A really good athlete, Malone is at his best winning around the edge. While he is a lighter, lankier edge runner, he likes to bend around the tackle. In Donatell’s 3-4 defense, he will have the ability to attack from the edge while becoming a complete player.

Round 5, Pick No. 156: Baylor S JT Woods

Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Best Available:

-UTSA RB Sincere McCormick
-Wisconsin LB Jack Sandborn
-Miami (OH) S Sterling Weatherford
-Appalachian State LB D’Marco Jackson

Speed ​​in the secondary should be a priority, and the Vikings can find that in the fifth round.

Woods was expected to test well and delivered. According to RAS (relative athletic scoring), Woods tested as a 98.7th percentile athlete with a 4.36 40-yard dash, and both jumps measured at or above the 95th percentile. Woods is the perfect player to become a starter and will be a key contributor to special teams from day one.

Round 6, Pick #184: Tulsa LIO Chris Paul

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Best Available:

-BYU RB Tyler Allgeier
-Virginia S Nick Grant
– San Jose State EDGE Cade Room
-Indiana LB Micah McFadden

The Vikings look at the board and nothing stands out, but they get value on Tulsa OL Chris Paul. A mauler who is versatile in the scheme, Paul can play multiple positions and could replace him right away, both of which are valuable assets for a sixth-round pick.

Round 6, Pick No. 191: Nevada WR Romeo Doubs

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Best Available:

-Nevada TE Cole Turner
-Stanford IDL Thomas Booker
-SMU WR Reggie Roberson
-Iowa CB Matt Hankins

Needing receiver depth in this class was a must and being able to secure Doubs in the sixth round is an absolute steal. While he won’t be as explosive as he was in Nevada, Doubs is an effective deep receiver who can open up a route when needed. It will be a nice piece to add to a talented room.

Round 6, Pick No. 192: Stanford IDL Thomas Booker

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Best Available:

-Nevada TE Cole Turner
-SMU WR Reggie Roberson
-Iowa CB Matt Hankins
-Tennessee IOL Cade Mays

At this point in the draft, the strategy should be to recruit good soccer players who can do multiple things for you. Booker is one of those players. At 6’3″ and 300 pounds, Booker can play inside and outside, which makes his fit in a 3-4 defense really good in both technique 3 and technique 5. He’s not the most explosive athlete , but makes up for it with raw power. With some development, you have a solid rotational piece on your hands.

Round 7, Pick No. 250: Florida International RB D’Vonte Price

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Best Available:

-Virginia Tech WR Tre Turner
-Auburn S Smoke Monday
-Ole Miss R.B. Jerrion Ealy
-North Carolina State RB Zonovan Knight

With the backroom of running backs constantly changing, a seventh-round pick at the position is a great opportunity cost pick. Price is a versatile scheme runner who thrives on both catching the ball and protecting the pass. He has the ideal size and speed (4.38-second 40-yard dash) for a bell-cow running back, but he still doesn’t have the vision and confidence in his running style to put it all together. If those things improve, you have a candidate to steal the draft. If not, he’s a great third runner.

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