Feels like we've all become quite comfortable with the idea of Vikings GM Rick Spielman identifying and selecting an offensive lineman with the 30th overall pick in Thursday's draft. Makes sense.
That's probably still the right answer, too, if the guy they love is there. Spielman could also trade out of that spot tho, move back and add a selection for later in the draft (seems like a real possibility)....or they could get aggressive and trade up to make sure they get their favorite guy (seems like less of a real possibility). Or, finally, they stick at 30 and...solidify a different position?
I decided I'd find my three favorite non-OL prospects that could potentially be picked 30th overall and help the Vikings.
1. MIKE HUGHES, CB, CENTRAL FLORIDA
--Mike Hughes is an absolute beast. Not the biggest corner in the world (5'11" 185lbs), but he plays big with physicality in the press. Frankly, he can be a route-stopper. 4 picks in 2017 with one of them being a defensive touchdown. He also had 2 kick return TDs and a punt return score. 4.5 speed. I think he has the attitude and plays the style that would fit perfectly with Mike Zimmer's defense.
He had some off-field negativity at the University of North Carolina before transferring to UCF, so when you're looking at stats and production, 2017 is really all you can use to measure. So does he have the experience and maturity to produce sooner than later? That's a question I'm sure teams have been asking, along with wondering if the off-field life is in order as well.
Mackensie Alexander just hasn't been good enough. I can't speak for Vikings coaches, but I have very little confidence in his ability to grow and contribute...the example I've used several times on the radio is the Saints playoff game. 4th down, game's on the line and Willie Snead puts Mac on skates for the conversion and eventual go-ahead field goal. It literally took a miracle to win that game. Oh! And Terence Newman is gonna be 40 years old.
Hughes is my favorite non-OLineman in the draft for the Vikings at 30.
2. TAVEN BRYAN, DT, FLORIDA
I want depth on the defensive line. We saw what a foot injury to Everson Griffen did to impact our pass rush (10 sacks thru 8 games, 3 sacks the rest of the season/playoffs). Brian Robison is aging (I even wonder if it's a guarantee that he'll return), and we lost rotation-quality guys in Tom Johnson & Shamar Stephen. The Vikings add Sheldon Richardson to work with Linval in the middle, but I want options...Sheldon hasn't consistently been elite in his career, either, and it's a 1yr deal. I would actually like to see the Vikings take a peek at some defensive ends later in the draft weekend as well.
Enter Taven Bryan. Sneak Peek at 3-technique...I want a defensive tackle that gets up the field and rushes the passer. Bryan is supremely athletic (sub-5 40 speed at 6'5" 291lbs). He offers versatility of being a guy that can potentially work in or outside, and I think he fits better with Andre Patterson and this defense than a Da'Ron Payne.
3. JAIRE ALEXANDER, CB, LOUISVILLE
As I noted with Mike Hughes...I really want another corner. If Mike Hughes is gone, and the Vikings decide to go this route, Jaire Alexander is the next name for me that I really like.
You watch his highlights, and his instincts to make a play are fantastic. I think he could be plugged in and the play the slot very quickly. He has the speed and movement to lock in on a guy and cover just about anywhere on the field.
He spent half the season out with more than 1 injury in 2017...but he has been largely healthy otherwise.
AGAIN...I believe that OLine is the A-Topic at 30 for the Vikings, but it's certainly possible that the right names are chosen before Spielman has the chance to put a Vikings jersey on them.
I think the Vikings need to add a receiver and an athletic tight end as well. But I believe in both those cases, later in the draft will yield a few options.
This Vikings defense is elite, with just a couple weaknesses. Number 1: I think they needed more depth on the defensive line, so Taven Bryan is a guy I love. And Number 2: This defense didn't turn the ball over enough. In this NFL Draft guessing game...Mike Hughes and Jaire Alexander appear to both carry traits of ball skills and playmaking ability that we''ll fall in love with, in 2018 & beyond.
Can't wait for the Draft!