With the NFL Draft two weeks from now, we’ll soon see the future stars of the league being drafted on the stage in Nashville, Tennessee.
Here are three predictions for the Minnesota Vikings going into the NFL Draft:
Vikings draft an offensive lineman with first pick
The Vikings offensive line faced extreme adversity prior to the start of the 2018 season, when offensive line coach Tony Sparano passed away unexpectedly just two days before training camp opened.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer moved Clancy Barone (formerly tight ends coach) to the offensive line and promoted assistant offensive line coach Andrew Janocko to co-lead with Barone.
The Vikings finished their season with eight offensive linemen on the active roster, and each started at least two games during the 2018 campaign.
Minnesota allowed 40 sacks of quarterback Kirk Cousins in 2018, which tied for 10th-most in the league with Detroit’s Matthew Stafford. The number of sacks was a jump from last season, when the Vikings allowed just 27 takedowns of Case Keenum (22) and Sam Bradford (5).
The Vikings need a replacement at the guard and tackle positions after the departures of Mike Remmers and Tom Compton. The team may look for competition at right tackle for Brian O’Neill after he had an okay showing for the team last season.
At this pick, there may be a lot of talent on the board for the team at the No. 19 pick, with Alabama tackle Jonah Williams, Oklahoma tackle Cody Ford and Boston College guard Chris Lindstrom expected to be available at the position around the time the Vikings pick. All of these players would give the Vikings a boost at offensive line.
The team drafts Latavius Murray’s replacement in the mid-rounds
With Latavius’ departure to New Orleans, and Roc Thomas facing a felony marijuana charge, the Vikings will look to the draft to add another talented running back behind Dalvin Cook, especially with Cook’s laundry list of injuries in years past.
A couple of names to keep your eye on in the mid-rounds that might be good complementary backs to Cook are Michigan State running back L.J. Scott, who has a similar build to Latavius and can catch the ball out of the backfield and Kentucky running back Bennie Snell Jr., who helped Kentucky get to a 10-3 overall record after rushing for 1,449 yards and 16 touchdowns.
The Vikings have struck gold lately in drafting running backs in the draft, with Dalvin Cook and Jerick McKinnon getting picked late in the draft by the team the past couple of years.
Vikings look for more wide receiver and linebacker competition
Former first round pick Laquon Treadwell has failed to impress the team and the fans in his first couple of seasons in purple and gold. After another underwhelming season with the club, the Vikings may look towards the draft for competition at the third wide-out spot behind Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.
Iowa State wide receiver Hakeem Butler and Arizona State wide receiver N’Keal Harry could be a couple of faces to look out for in the draft, especially after both of them had impressive performances for their respected teams in 2018.
The Vikings may need more competition at linebacker as well, with Vikings linebacker Ben Gedeon being an underwhelming performer the last couple of seasons.
The team may look inside their own state for help, with Minnesota Golden Gopher linebacker Blake Cashman turning heads as of late after impressive performances in the NFL Scouting Combine and pro day.
Other names to keep an eye on late are Wisconsin outside linebacker Ryan Connelly, and Northwestern outside linebacker Nate Hall, who also pulled in some impressive performances in the combine.
With the Vikings currently holding eight picks in the draft, the team looks to continue to build the team’s future within the next couple of weeks in Nashville.
Header photo courtesy of Flickr.