What Vikings Fans Should Watch For on Day One of NFL Draft

Photo: Tom Pennington – Getty Images

Well, it’s finally here. We are less than 24 hours away from the NFL draft. On Thursday night at 7 PM CT, the Jacksonville Jaguars will go on the clock. By 8 PM CT, the Minnesota Vikings slot at #12 will come and go. Will they trade up, trade down or stay put? And when they do send an envelope up to the podium, what position will they pick and what name will Roger Goodell call?

At this time, those questions are unanswerable, even for those who will be in the Vikings draft room on Thursday night. But that doesn’t mean we’re completely in the dark. We know what the Vikings need and we have a lot of intel regarding who will be picked ahead of them. That allows us, if nothing else, to know what we’re looking for as teams in the top-10 start pulling names off the draft board.

1.) How Long do Top-3 DB’s Last?

The Minnesota Vikings desperately need help in their secondary. That’s why they’ve been heavily linked to cornerbacks during mock draft season. Derek Stingley Jr (LSU) and Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner (Cincinnati) are expected to go in the top-5. Should either slide, we could see the UNLIKELY scenario that Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks to move up.

Let’s not forget about safety, Kyle Hamilton (Notre Dame), either. There are scenario’s where he falls to #12. The Vikings may not want to go safety with their first round pick but a talent like Hamilton could force their hand.

2.) When Do Quarterbacks Go?

As of Wednesday night, the consensus around draft circles have top quarterbacks, Malik Willis (Liberty) and Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh), falling out of the top-10 and probably past the Vikings at #12. But, that doesn’t mean prognostication will become reality. If a QB hungry team gets anxious and grabs a quarterback in the top-10, that’s a win for the Vikings because it could allow a DB, DL, WR or EDGE they like to fall.

No, I do not see a situation where Kwesi pulls the trigger on Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett. I do, however, see a scenario where the Vikings trade back with a team who’s jumping up to get one of those two. Which brings us to our third and final “what to watch for” item.

3.) Take WR or Trade Back?

It’s very possible the Minnesota Vikings first round could come down to this decision. The best two CB’s (Stingley Jr, Gardner) are expected to be off the board, leaving Trent McDuffie (Washington) as the next best bet. But he’s graded as a vast downgrade from the top two at that position. All of the top EDGE rushers are expected to unavailable too.

But the run on wide receivers isn’t expected to start until pick 10 or later, meaning the Vikings could have their choice of the WR talent, should they choose to go that route. It’s a very good possibility that Jameson Williams (Alabama), Garrett Wilson (Ohio State), Chris Olave (Ohio State) and Drake London (USC) are all on the board.

But the Minnesota Vikings are pretty set at WR, at least in the immediate future. So much so that WR coach, Keenan McCardell is trying to talk Kwesi out of drafting another one. So, the Vikings could decide to trade down in this scenario. Doing so could still land them a defensive lineman, EDGE rusher or CB that they covet, while gaining them an extra day two pick in the process.

But the most important thing to remember when you turn your TV on tomorrow evening is that anything can happen. Every draft, we walk away surprised by many of the decisions made. And this first round is expected to have even more unknowns than most years. So watch for what we discussed above but be ready for anything.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan