[Editor’s Note: To see Luke’s previous versions, click here]
It’s draft season. Everyone and their mother has a mock draft out now and so do we, BUT the difference here at Cold Omaha is that we have Luke Inman (@Luke_Spinman) on staff. Luke’s seen many of these prospects in the flesh at the Senior Bowl, done his due diligence grinding tape and has keen insight on how the draft prospects line up with what Rick Spielman and the Vikings may do at the end of April.
Luke will be updating his mock throughout the process, so bookmark this page the vanity link coldomaha.com/mockdraft and let your thoughts be heard in the comment section as we roll along towards the Draft.
Catch Luke’s Prospect a Day series on YouTube.
1st Round (23rd Overall) Josh Doctson, WR TCU
He’s back, baby! My draft man crush slips past wide receiver needy teams like Los Angeles, Detroit, Atlanta, Buffalo, and Houston and into the laps of the Vikings. In the most critical season of Bridgewater’s career, Teddy enters the pivotal year three hoping to make the proverbial leap into the NFL’s elite signal callers.
While running a heavy power-running scheme, Teddy wasn’t asked to push the ball downfield much or take aggressive shots into the teeth of opposing defenses. However, when he did attempt the deep ball, he and his receivers struggled to consistently strike fear into secondaries with a lackluster outcomes.
In fact, the Vikings passing game ranked among the worst in the league and were downright putrid with passes traveling more than 20 yards.
Enter Doctson who is a man among boys when put in jump ball situations. Between his outstanding ball tracking skills, leaping ability, and insanely long reach used to pluck balls away from his defenders, Doctson is the missing piece the Vikings have long sought after. Doctson game is similar to last years 13th overall pick Devante Parker and ball skills are reminiscent to AJ Green.
If the mission of the 2016 season is to fairly evaluate Bridgewater and see if he’s the long term answer at quarterback, then it’s only fair to surround him with the talent needed to maximize his skill set. It’s a known fact Bridgewater struggles with deep accuracy since coming out of Louisville, however Doctson is a special player that can help bail out his quarterback and give him confidence when it’s time to “just throw it up”.
The offensive line has been patched up and aided thanks to free agency and now the biggest remaining void must be filled in the draft. (Previous pick: 2.0 & 3.0 Andrew Billings, DT Baylor; 1.0 Josh Doctson, WR TCU)
2nd Round (54th Overall) Jason Spriggs, OT Indiana
While safety was in the mix, thanks to an outstanding defensive performance (and vice versa an offensive performance that underperformed) the Vikings had two needs heading into the offseason that trumped everything else: wide receiver and offensive line.
It’s my opinion the front office has done an outstanding job of bringing in a long term solution at the left guard position with Alex Boone who adds a newfound tenacity and mean streak coaches left last season craving. The move allows Brandon Fusco to move back to his most natural position on the right side and compete for his old job with Mike Harris killing two birds with one stone.
The General also signed both Phil Loadholt and Andre Smith to one-year deals offering even more competition and safety nets at a position that was depleted by injuries just a season ago. Look a little closer though and you’ll see after this year the team will have all three tackles including Matt Kalil likely hitting the free agent market.
Spielman is always in “build for the future” mode and is thinking of way to fill the likely voids. Spriggs is one of the most athletic yet raw lineman in the draft. As a former tight end and basketball player he offers huge upside as a player who has the feet and fluidity to play the left tackle and power and mean streak to line up on the right.
However, much like we saw TJ Clemmings last year, it isn’t wise to bank on a raw rookie tackle to come in and protect your pocket passing quarterback. Letting both Spriggs and Clemmings sit a year while they learn the nuances of the NFL game gives Spielman and the team a huge head start when it comes to the possibility of once again rebuilding their offensive line heading into 2017.
While the interior line seems set for the future don’t be fooled the both tackle positions remain huge question marks beyond this season.
(Previous picks: 1.0 & 2.0 Darian Thompson, S Boise State; 3.0 Karl Joseph, S West Virginia)
3rd Round (86th Overall) Jeremy Cash, SS Duke
While he may be the most versatile safety in the draft, if I was forced to pigeon hole Harrison Smith to one position in the backend I would maximize his outstanding instincts and range as a centerfielder through the free safety role.
Head coach Mike Zimmer may not agree however, as he dropped hint after clue at combine interviews that finding someone who could man the coverage duties that he would ideally use Smith inside the box with his run stopping and blitzing skills.
Unfortunately for him this class of safeties is deep with the prototypical in-the-box safeties and not the other way around. Duke’s Jeremy Cash is one of them.
A former Ohio State recruit, Cash transferred to Duke where he was a highlight machine at and behind the line of scrimmage. Tallying over 100 tackles three years in a row, Cash collected an outstanding 18.5 tackles for loss last season proving his big play ability and nose for the ball.
Now I’m not going to lie, Cash isn’t much in coverage and will be a liability in that department until coaches can develop that side of his game. When I watched him at the Senior Bowl a few months back a distinctly remember Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepard beating him over the top from slot multiple times.
However, with Zimmer’s ability to maximize his players natural abilities inside the box and teaming him up with Smith’s coverage skills could be the next best safety tandem in the league, taking over for Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor as the new “Legion of Boom.”
(Previous picks: 1.0 Nick Martin, C/OG Notre Dame; 2.0 &3 Rashad Higgins)
4th Round (121st Overall) Deion Jones, OLB LSU
Another athletic specimen who was vastly underutilized at LSU. Jones didn’t see the field until his senior season but was clearly one of the fastest on the field as he popped off the tape. J
ones saw time all over the field even including CORNERBACK as a fluid athlete that flies to the ball. Zimmer loves molding his athletic front-seven players and with an ever aging Chad Greenway and hobbled Audie Cole Jones will have a chance to compete for playing time early on as he learns the nuances of the NFL game. (Previous pick: 1.0 – 3.0 Deion Jones, OLB LSU)
5th Round (160th Overall) Kenyan Drake, RB Alabama
While Norv Turner wants Matt Asiata back its clear the change of pace tailback is content with sniffing out the free agency field. Don’t be surprised if Asiata is one of the few team free agents that doesn’t return leaving a vacant hole to fill in regards to valuable depth.
Drake surprised me with his smooth glides for his big frame down at the Senior Bowl. While he may not be the short down bruiser right out the gate like his predecessor was Drake will fill out his 6’0″ frame and become a set of fresh legs to work into the rotation. (Previous picks: 1.0 & 2.0 Jonathan Williams, RB Arkansas; 3.0 Kenyan Drake, RB Alabama)
6th Round (180th Overall from SF) Joe Haeg, OT NDSU
As a former walk on Haeg wasn’t expected to win a starting left tackle job, but he did. He also wasn’t expected to win three national championships and become one of the best FCS tackles in the country, but he did.
Haeg wont be expected to be a consistent contributor in the NFL but, with the help and guidance from Tony Sparano maybe he will as the Vikings set up Plans B, C, and D in case Phil Loadholt doesn’t pan out from injury. (Previous pick: 1.0 – 3.0 Joel Haeg, OT NDSU)
7th Round (240th Overall from BUF) Glenn Gronkowski, FB/TE Kansas State
It makes me sick to my stomach to fill in another tight end here because it means the injury to Rhett Elison’s knee may be too much to overcome. Ellison was the glue between the cracks in one of the best running games in the NFL as a brusing blocker in power run formations.
Believe it or not losing Ellison will be a huge blow to the way Norv Turner runs his offense. However, brining in baby Gronk is the next best thing in hopes of managing the damage. I got a first hand look at Gronkowski down at the Senior Bowl and he showed off the great gene pool with his blocking skills. However, to make things really worth the while for Rick, Glenn showed off outstanding natural receiving ability when coaches plugged him in as a pass catching TE.
A value late pick here that is an insurance policy for an injured veteran that gives way to great versatility. (Previous picks: 1.0 Paul McRoberts, WR SE Missouri St; 2.0 & 3.0 Glenn Gronkowski)
7th Round (244th Overall) Jaylon Smith, LB Notre Dame
I’m hearing serious rumors that due to his horrific knee injury Smith is completely off at least two-thirds of teams’ draft boards. While Spielman and his training staff, like Eric Sugarman, do more than their due diligence with prospects and their medical history, at a certain point you just have to think about the reward outweighing the risk.
The sheer possibility of teaming Smith, who was considered a lock to be a top-10 pick just months ago, with Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks could only be put as video game-esque. Redshirting Smith would be a must for the 2016 season, but with his return the following season, Zimmer’s 4-3 base defense would have to be considered the most young, athletic, and talented group in the entire league… Yeah I said it. (Previous picks: 1.0 DJ Reader, NT/DT Clemson; 2.0 & 3.0 Jaylon Smith)