With one day left until the show, let’s run down a list of 20 names every Viking fan should have in their draft notebook (if in fact they are geeky enough to have a draft notebook).
1. Matt Kalil – Smokescreening aside, he remains the most popular pick among mock drafters and fans alike. How can you pass up an almost-certain Pro Bowler at left tackle? How?
2. Morris Claiborne – A big name guy who flashed big-time skills on a big-time team. And the Vikings have a need at cornerback. But they can fill that need farther down the board.
3. Justin Blackmon – There are questions about whether he’s really a #1 receiver in the NFL. There’s talent there for sure but a receiver at #3? With Kalil on the board? He makes more sense after a trade down but that assumes you can make the trade happen. Personally, I think all talk of the Vikings’ interest in Blackmon AND Claiborne is just smoke. Adam Schefter, explain yourself.
4. Harrison Smith – A solid safety whose skills match the scheme. He’s the surest pick for the Vikings if they stay at #35 overall. Is he a home run pick? Maybe not. But he’s the smart one.
5. Casey Hayward – What would be wrong with going DB in two straight rounds? The Vikings could conceivably draft Smith in the 2nd and Hayward in the 3rd. That would help their lack of secondary talent more than just taking Claiborne in the first. Hayward is another perfect Cover-2 fit like Smith. Take the left tackle in the first Vikings. You can find good secondary help in the later rounds.
6. Trumaine Johnson – I think Smith will be the man in the second but what if Smith is off the board? The Vikings will still need secondary help. There isn’t necessarily a safety who makes sense there but there are a couple cornerbacks. Trumaine Johnson is a guy the Vikes have shown interest in. Call him Janoris Jenkins lite. Some baggage but not as much as Janoris. Some talent but not as much as Janoris.
7. Josh Robinson – Another option at 35 overall if the Vikes want to go cornerback. Maybe not as gifted physically as Trumaine but still a solid guy. He’s smallish but he’s fast and scouts like his ball skills.
8. Josh Chapman – Upgrading the secondary isn’t the only key to making this defense better. The Vikings were also lousy at nose tackle last year and have generally been sliding in their run defense since Pat Williams left. Chapman may not be an every-down solution but he would give them the beefy run-stuffer they so sorely lacked in 2011. Adding him would fill out the defensive line rotation nicely.
9. Nick Toon – Never liked him as a potential downfield receiver when all the talk was about the Vikes needing to draft an immediate-starter downfield receiver. Now that talk has quieted with the Jerome Simpson signing. It really looks to me like the Vikes can wait to draft a wide out until the fourth. They’re not going to find a great player in the 4th but in Toon they might find a guy with genuine red zone skills who in certain spots can be a sneaky downfield threat. He complements the other pieces nicely.
10. Brandon Hardin – Here’s another fast, physical safety who may actually have a little more upside than Harrison Smith. The Vikings will take at least two DBs in their first six picks and if they don’t get a safety in the second or third, look for Hardin in the fourth.
11. Janoris Jenkins – Character concerns may cause top-5 talent Jenkins to slide all the way into the second, putting the Vikes in position to make a very intriguing decision. Do they go for the potentially high value pick or stay away from the potential major character problem. Like Claiborne, he might be more player than they need in their scheme. Unlike Claiborne, you could draft him without giving away Matt Kalil. It’s something to think about anyway.
12. Rueben Randle – I became intrigued by Randle’s complete package as a receiver and began thinking of him as a potential Sidney Rice-type non-speedster downfield threat who makes hay with body control and hands and physicality. And then they went and signed Jerome Simpson and now I don’t think they’ll take a wide out in the second. But you never know. Rick Spielman is crafty. If he gets his way with trades, maybe he still picks up a receiver before the fourth.
13. Alshon Jeffery – Another second round receiver who is probably now off the board for the Vikes. I was never as into him as some people but the Vikings have looked at him and may still have interest. If for some reason he slides to the third, he could be too intriguing a talent to pass up. There are concerns about his attitude and conditioning.
14. Bobby Massie – We’ve gone through Riley Reiff and Jonathan Martin and Cordy Glenn. And now if the Vikes don’t take Kalil, Bobby Massie looks like the next best option. Again, I think it would be a major mistake for them to pass on Kalil. Nothing against Massie.
15. Amini Silatolu – The Vikings looked at the Midwestern State guard perhaps thinking of him as a third round candidate. Now he’s moving up draft boards all the way into the first in some cases. I guess if you really wanted to do a true overhaul of your offensive line you might take Kalil in the first and this guy in the second. But that would be insane. Two o-linemen with your first two picks? Never happen.
16. Dontari Poe – If the Vikings do something radical trade-wise and wind up picking around #11 or something? Well, what about Dontari Poe. The Vikings visited him and he would certainly upgrade their defensive line.
17. Michael Floyd – Last week there was a little noise about the Vikings taking Floyd #3 or trading down to 8 and taking him. Crazy talk, I say.
18. Senio Kelemete – An undersized but very physical guard the Vikings are known to be highly interested in. Mid- round guy with upside.
19. Antonio Allen – Another possibility at safety. Projects as a classic Cover-2 in-the-box safety or hybrid safety in funky sub-packages. That enough jargon for you?
20. Audie Cole – A late round linebacker prospect the Vikings’ coaching staff saw at the Senior Bowl and was reportedly impressed with.