After missing the playoffs last year, the Minnesota Vikings must find offensive line help or risk their championship window slamming shut.
State Of The Team
The Minnesota Vikings are coming off a disappointing season where many experts considered the team to be a Super Bowl contender but instead ended the 2018 NFL season with an 8-7-1 record, missing the postseason.
With most of their key pieces set to return, expectations should be high for the squad to push as a top contender for the playoffs. But playing within a strong NFC North (and in the NFC in general) means it won’t be easy.
Total Draft Picks
Minnesota has five draft picks based on where they finished the season, missing their fifth-round pick after trading it to Denver for backup quarterback Trevor Siemian and their seventh-round pick in acquiring offensive lineman Brett Jones. The Vikings also received three compensatory picks: a sixth-rounder and two seventh rounders. In total, the Vikings will have seven selections in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Here are the picks the Vikings own heading into the 2019 NFL Draft.
- Round 1, pick 18
- Round 2, pick 18 (No. 50 overall)
- Round 3, pick 18 (No. 81 overall)
- Round 4, pick 18 (No. 114 overall)
- Round 5, pick 18 (No. 178 overall)
- Round 6, pick 37 (No. 209 overall)
- Round 6, pick 33 (No. 250 overall)
Top 3 Draft Needs
Assuming the team is unable to bring back several of their players for 2019, Minnesota will need to focus on acquiring three starters via the draft.
The priority for the Vikings should be left guard, right guard and defensive tackle. Tom Compton, Nick Easton and Brett Jones are all free agents while Mike Remmers should be an eventual salary cap casualty, which means the Vikings need to prioritize finding interior offensive linemen to start next to center Pat Elflein.
Finding new starting-caliber guards would not only help in pass protection but also improve the team’s running game. Meanwhile, Sheldon Richardson left in free agency along with Tom Johnson. This leaves a big hole on the interior of the defensive line in a spot next to Linval Joseph. Since Minnesota’s defense is centered around a bend-but-don’t-break philosophy, they will need a run stuffer who can also get quarterback pressure.
Top 3 Draft Targets
A big, bruising lineman is exactly what the Vikings could use to help open up holes in the run game and Cody Ford fits that bill quite well. Weighing in at 338 pounds and standing 6-foot-4, Ford seems like a long-term answer at right guard to pair with new starting right tackle Brian O’Neill to open up holes in the run game.
OL, Kansas State
If pass protection is the most important things Minnesota is looking for in a rookie offensive lineman, Dalton Risner might the best target available. Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 297 pounds, he doesn’t have the bulk of Ford but would be an interesting option at right guard. However, he also has experience at center, making him even more valuable.
DT, Ohio State
Filling out the defensive line should be a top priority for the Vikings and thankfully there is quite a bit of depth at defensive tackle in this year’s draft. Dre’Mont Jones was a first-team All-American earned first-team all-Big Ten Conference honors in 2018. With all his accomplishments, it’s hard to believe he’s not a higher-rated tackle. He should be on the Vikings’ radar, however.
Decision Maker (Or Who To Blame If Things Go Wrong)
Who the Minnesota Vikings will select during the 2019 NFL Draft will ultimately come down to the decision of general manager Rick Spielman, but he will get plenty of input from their head coach and defensive guru Mike Zimmer as well as the offensive coaching staff.
While the team should focus on needs, expect draft value to be an important part of the process as well.
Best/Worst Pick In Current Draft Slot
Historically, who was the best pick and/or the worst pick based on where the team is currently picking.
Best Pick: Dewayne Washington, cornerback, No. 18 overall in 1994 NFL Draft
The Minnesota Vikings have only made a selection at number 18 overall in the draft twice in the history of the franchise. The best of those picks was spent on cornerback Dewayne Washington out of North Carolina State in 1994. In four years with Minnesota, Washington played 63 games and intercepted 10 passes, returning three of them for touchdowns. He had 296 total tackles with the franchise and recovered two fumbles and returned one for a touchdown. This makes him a solid selection even though he was only with the squad for four years.
Worst Pick: Erasmus James, defensive end, No. 18 overall in 2005 NFL Draft
On the other hand, “The Eraser” Erasmus James struggled to stay on the football field. He played in only 23 games in three years and totaled just five sacks and one forced fumble. It was hard to watch him struggle to stay healthy because of his amount of talent, but the selection can’t be called a success because of his lack of playing time and stats.