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With no live sporting events on television, sports fans are anticipating this year’s NFL Draft with the giddy enthusiasm of a tail-wagging puppy witnessing its food dish being filled. Finally! Real live, fresh sports content is being served up!
The first round is the good stuff of course – the top-shelf, gourmet cuisine. The dry kibble will eventually follow in the subsequent rounds, but the saliva really flows in Round 1.
Thus, the fact your Minnesota Vikings have multiple first-round picks for the first time in six years makes this Thursday night’s soiree even more mouth-watering for starved fans. Of course, Vikings fans won’t merely be waiting for their favorite team to be on the clock. Oh no! They should be glued to every pick due to the possible ramifications.
There are numerous perceived roster holes on the Vikings’ roster as things currently stand. However, the consensus seems to be their biggest needs — in some order — exist at cornerback, wide receiver, offensive and defensive line, and maybe a safety.
In case you missed it, Sam Ekstrom recently ranked the Vikings’ biggest draft needs in the Zone Coverage Draft Guide.
With so many positions to address and so many picks prior to the Vikings, there’s a lot of room for players to go off the board that Vikings fans covet. Barring a trade, Rick Spielman won’t be Zoom Chatting the Purple picks until 22 and 25.
With that in mind, let’s drill down into what Vikings fans should be watching for on Thursday. Which teams picking ahead of the Vikings are also in need of corners, wideouts and linemen?
Determining the teams Vikings fans need to monitor closest as round one unfolds feels like an endeavor worth pursuing in order to optimize draft-viewing pleasure. This calls for a first-round cheat sheet of sorts.
3. Detroit Lions
This year’s draft effectively begins with Detroit at three, as Cincinnati is a stone-cold lock to draft LSU quarterback Joe Burrow No. 1 and Washington is widely projected to select defensive end Chase Young from The Ohio State at No. 2. The Lions are rumored to be open to trading down out of the third spot, but assuming they don’t, their needs mirror the Vikings’ needs. They could go cornerback, wide receiver, guard or defensive line. However, the majority of mock drafts – including the latest mock from Luke Inman — have Detroit taking Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah.
4. New York Giants
Talk about holes to fill! The G-men are set at running back and presumably also at quarterback. Beyond that, they could go many directions. An offensive tackle such as Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs makes a lot of sense here. If not Wirfs, they might also look to shore up their secondary with another of the top corners or opt for a game-changing defensive tackle like Derrick Brown. All of the above options would impact the preferred pool of Vikings picks.
5. Miami Dolphins
6. Los Angeles Chargers
Both the Dolphins and Chargers need quarterbacks and are in prime position to grab the likes of Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert. There’s little for Vikings fans to worry about in terms of either of these teams stealing a guy they have their eyes on. Go ahead and grab a beer and make yourself a sandwich at this point in the proceedings.
7. Carolina Panthers
If Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons is still on the board this late, the Panthers won’t hesitate to pounce. A lot of mocks speculate that this will be a defensive player and, as such, they might grab a corner or defensive lineman if Simmons is already off the board.
8. Arizona Cardinals
Keep an eye on the Cardinals, Vikes fans. They need someone to protect Kyler Murray, so a lot of mock drafts have them selecting an offensive tackle such as Alabama’s Jedrick Wills Jr. or Georgia’s Andrew Thomas. There are holes to fill along Arizona’s defensive front, so that’s a possibility as well.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars
How high are the Jaguars on Gardner Flint Minshew II? If they take a quarterback either here or on Day 2, we’ll have our answer. If not, this is where the run on wide receivers could really begin. Jerry Jeudy, perhaps? They get to pick again at 20.
10. Cleveland Browns
This will be an offensive tackle. It has to be, right? Look for the Brownies to take whoever the next big fella on the list is after the Cardinals take one at nine.
11. New York Jets
The Jets are probably going to take someone Vikings fans like. They really need offensive linemen, so it would be pretty surprising if they didn’t select one here – especially if either the Cardinals or Browns don’t take one. Such a scenario would be good news if you’re a Vikings fan that would rather see your team get a wideout or corner. The bad news: The Jets need those positions as well, so we can’t rule that out.
12. Las Vegas Raiders
This is the Raiders’ first of two chances to mess with the Vikings, as they pick again at 19. They need wide receiver help, so you have to think one of the two picks will be spent on one of the premium players at wideout.
13. San Francisco 49ers
The Niners squashed the Vikings in the playoffs and are now positioned to squash some draft dreams of Vikings fans. They have clear needs at wide receiver and guard. And even though their defense is top-notch, a cornerback could be in play here as well.
However, ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting the 49ers are willing to trade back to accumulate additional picks. They also pick 31st, but they don’t own any picks in the second, third or fourth rounds. If you are in the camp of Vikings fans that would like to see them trade up, this is a spot to watch.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I suspect this will be an offensive lineman, likely a tackle, to protect their investment in Tom Brady. Vikings fans should hope the Bucs wait on a lineman and opt to grab a running back here instead.
15. Denver Broncos
Most mock drafts have the Broncos taking a wide receiver here. It makes a ton of sense. They have needs at corner and offensive tackle as well. Either way, Vikings fans have to be crossing their fingers that John Elway makes an unforced error in Round 1 and does something weird.
16. Atlanta Falcons
Fans of the Vikings are really hoping the Falcons address their need at linebacker here. If not, this could easily be a cornerback or interior offensive lineman.
17. Dallas Cowboys
Dallas will likely be shopping for help in the secondary, so if you’re a Vikings fan that covets a corner like C.J. Henderson or maybe wants to see them take the Gophers’ Antoine Winfield Jr., this will be a spot to watch.
Offensive line guru John Tuvey tells me he foresees a possible different scenario. The Cowboys need to replace Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick, who retired last month at 29 years old. Thus, Michigan center Cesar Ruiz is in play here. Or the ‘Boys could trade down and still get Ruiz plus help for the secondary.
18. Miami Dolphins
Assuming Miami takes a quarterback with the fifth overall pick, this selection could very well be the next offensive tackle off the board. However, the Dolphins are also looking for help at safety. Maybe Winfield or Xavier McKinney goes off the board here if they pass on a tackle.
19. Las Vegas Raiders
This will be the Raiders’ second opportunity to steal someone from the Vikings. If they don’t go wide receiver at 12, they will here. And if they already took a wide receiver at 12, they might take a corner or offensive lineman. Either way, Vikings fans will be less than thrilled.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars
Much like the Raiders, the Jaguars will have two opportunities to take someone off the Vikings’ wish list. With the ninth pick, Jacksonville might take one of the first wide receivers off the board. If not, it will remain a need here. The Jags have needs along the defensive line and in the secondary as well.
21. Philadelphia Eagles
It would be just like the Eagles to snipe the Vikings by filling a need at wide receiver or cornerback with this selection right in front of them. However, they also have a pretty glaring need at linebacker that could easily be addressed here.
22. *MINNESOTA VIKINGS*
23. New England Patriots
The Patriots need to replace that Brady dude, so this could be a quarterback. Their secondary needs include linebacker, tight end or maybe defensive end. Vikings fans can probably take a bathroom break here before they’re up again at 25.
24. New Orleans Saints
There’s a chance the Saints could go wide receiver here, but several of the blue-chip guys will be off the board, so they could instead patch a hole in their defense. Many mock drafts project the Saints take a linebacker here, but if the Vikings don’t take a wide receiver at 22 and you really want them to get one in round one, this pick might have you holding your breath.
Summing things up, based on the above assessments of team needs, here’s where you should anticipate crossing players off your first-round cheat sheet if you are a Vikings fan:
If you want the Vikes to take a cornerback, watch the following teams: Lions, Cowboys, Jets, 49ers, Broncos and Falcons.
If you want Rick Spielman to make a round-one splash at wide receiver, watch out for the: Jaguars, Broncos, Raiders, 49ers and Jets.
If you want the Vikings to grab a defensive lineman, your biggest worries (assuming Young goes second) should be the: Giants, Jaguars or possibly the Cardinals.
Lastly, if you want the Vikings to add more top-tier help along the offensive line, keep an eye on all these teams: Browns, Giants, Cardinals, Jets, Buccaneers, Falcons, Raiders and Dolphins.