Minnesota Vikings: 2018 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

It may seem early. Especially, since the Minnesota Vikings will be playing for the NFC Championship and a spot in the Super Bowl. However, it is time to paint a picture of what could happen during the 2018 NFL Draft. The draft will offer the Vikings with an opportunity to harvest some elite talent from the incoming crop of college stars. So without further ado, here is my first 2018 NFL Mock Draft, which will be a seven-round mock for the Vikings.

NOTE: The Vikings 4th-round pick was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for QB Sam Bradford, and the 7th-round pick was traded to the Seattle Seahawks for CB Tramaine Brock.

FIRST-ROUND – C/G BILLY PRICE – OHIO STATE

Chemistry is a big component of offensive line play. The best units in the league have continuity and understand how to work in unison together. With guard Joe Berger expected to retire after the season, the 13-year veteran leaves a hole at right guard. Rookie Danny Isidora has played in spots and showed positive signs, but the team can get a player with higher upside than the 2017 fifth-round selection.

Following in Pat Elflein’s footsteps, Ohio State center/guard Billy Price has definitely lived up to the hype. From being a consensus All-American to winning the Rimington Award the following year after Elfein, it is evident that the two have many similar traits. Having already played 36 career games together, there already is a sense of chemistry and understanding of one another. Having those two as building blocks for the interior of the offensive line for years to come is very appealing. Price fills an immediate need as well as provides another piece to the teams offensive line rebuild.

SECOND-ROUND – DT/DERRICK NNADI – FLORIDA STATE

With the unknown future of Sharrif Floyd, Tom Johnson being an impending 34-year-old free agent, and Jaleel Johnson being an unknown, the team lacks depth at the defensive tackle spot. Mike Zimmer has shown that he loves to have depth and rotate defensive lineman periodically in order to keep them fresh and to be consistent rushers.

Drafting Nnadi would provide the interior of the defensive line with an immediate run-plugger. Additionally, he provides the versatility to play both one and three-technique spots. He doesn’t provide much three-down ability, but his run defense is elite. Potentially pairing him alongside Linval Joseph would make it very difficult to run up the middle against the Minnesota Vikings defense.

THIRD-ROUND – S/KYZIR WHITE – WEST VIRGINIA

A debatable positional pick, but one I like for the team. Sendejo is solid. I’m not taking anything away from him. Anthony Harris and Jayron Kearse are also likable depth pieces, but their upside is limited. Sendejo turns 31 years-old at the start of next season. It is time to start thinking about finding his future replacement.

White provides added competition to the position group and considerably more upside than the rest, outside of Harrison Smith. One trait safeties must have in order to play for Zimmer is versatility. White has been the definition of that for the Mountaineers defense. Not only does he play both safety spots, but he has also played an extended amount at cornerback. He has logged 130 snaps there this season and recorded the lowest passer rating (49.1) among all Big-12 corners.

FIFTH-ROUND – RB/KALEN BALLAGE (6’3″, 220) – ARIZONA STATE

Everyone knows that as long as he’s healthy Dalvin Cook will be the featured running back in Minnesota. The team has an interesting and tough decision to make in the off-season. Jerick McKinnon is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. They also have to make a decision on the 2018 option year for Latavius Murray. Already the 11th-highest paid rusher in the league, Murray’s option ($6.35 million) will not come cheap. Will the team choose to bring back McKinnon or exercise Murray’s option? I don’t think we see both back with the Minnesota Vikings next season because of the significant cost.

If the team had to choose between the two though, I think they would choose McKinnon. Being that he would be the cheaper option and provides much more value than Murray. Although much smaller, McKinnon provides versatility in the passing game, third-down situations and is the ideal complement to Cook. That still leaves a void at the RB3 spot. Choosing to move on from Murray would mean that the team needs another “bruiser”. An in between the tackles type of back. Just in case Cook isn’t the same player he showed to be pre-injury. Despite never living up to the collegiate hype, Ballage is a mirror image of Murray physically and playing style wise.

SIXTH-ROUND – CB/LEVI WALLACE (6’0″, 190) – ALABAMA

Xavier Rhodes has cemented himself as an elite cornerback. Trae Waynes has taken strides in his first full year as a starter. Also, Mackensie Alexander has shown promise in his second-year. With the expected retirement of Terence Newman and Tramaine Brock being an impending free agent, the Minnesota Vikings now lack depth at cornerback.

Alabama cornerback Levi Wallace is a name that most likely will be on the Minnesota Vikings radar. Especially in the later rounds. His story is phenomenal, as he was once a walk-on for the Crimson Tide. Now he has turned into a starter for arguably the best secondary in the country. Wallace has the traits that the Vikings covet in their defensive back prospects. Hence, he has size, length, ball skills, and very high character.

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Nick Ficorelli

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