The Minnesota Vikings stand as a recent example of the vagaries of draft day. After already selecting stud pass-rusher Anthony Barr with the ninth overall pick a year ago, the Vikings traded into the final spot of the first round in order to pick the sliding quarterback prospect Teddy Bridgewater. Months earlier, Bridgewater had been considered a possible No. 1 overall pick. Now, after Bridgewater's impressive rookie season, the Vikings appear to have their quarterback of the future and an ascending roster coming off a 7-9 season.
But there's still plenty of work to do, namely with head coach Mike Zimmer's specialty, the secondary. Former first-round pick Xavier Rhodes is entrenched at one cornerback spot, but the other looks to be taken by Terence Newman. The same Newman who will turn 37 years old during the 2015 season. Captain Munnerlyn and Josh Robinson also hold roster spots at corner, highlighting the need for another young cornerback – especially in a division ruled by Aaron Rodgers and his cadre of standout receivers.
Michigan State's Trae Waynes, then, seems like the obvious pick here. At 6-0, 186, Waynes has the size Zimmer is said to covet at the position and his 4.31-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine quashed any questions about his deep speed. If you're not into Waynes for some reason, the next group of cornerbacks, including lengthy and speedy prospects like Byron Jones, Kevin Johnson and Jalen Collins, could provide the answer here. At safety, Robert Blanton started 13 games opposite Harrison Smith in 2014, though he's not thought of as a long-term answer. Alabama's Landon Collins could tempt Zimmer, though he does have his deficiencies in pass coverage.
Despite last year's selection of Barr (who produced 4.0 sacks in his rookie season), the Vikings could double down on a pass rusher if they view Nebraska's Randy Gregory or Kentucky's Bud Dupree as far and away the best player on the board. In the middle of their defense, meanwhile, former New York Giant Linval Joseph was signed to man the nose next to Sharif Floyd, a former first-round pick who has underwhelmed in his short career thus far. Danny Shelton, the prototype nose tackle from Washington, might intrigue Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman then. Or, Oregon's Arik Armstead could be seen as the kind of versatile chess piece to move around Minnesota's four-man front.
If the Vikings look to the offensive side of the ball to help their young quarterback, wide receiver would seem like the obvious option. Former first-rounder Cordarrelle Patterson has yet to break out as a receiver, but the Vikings did sign Mike Wallace to help stretch the field next to Charles Johnson, who did emerge himself in 2014. Central Florida's Breshad Perriman would appear to be the best receiver on the board, assuming the Vikings choose to look beyond Dorial Green-Beckham. To that end, Georgia running back Todd Gurley could be the perfect long-term complement to Bridgewater, depending on Adrian Peterson's future in Minnesota.
Finally, there is high-level offensive line talent on the board in this scenario, but Minnesota is actually well-set up front for the most part. Matt Kalil is a standout and Phil Loadholt is a prototypical right tackle, while David Yankey, John Sullivan and Brandon Fusco form a solid interior. But LSU's La'El Collins, who has the versatility to play guard, would be an upgrade.
So will Spielman make the seemingly obvious move here and take Waynes to address the cornerback spot? Will he roll the dice with a pass rusher? Address the offense? You're on the clock for Minnesota, make the call …
- 1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Jameis Winston
- 2. Tennessee Titans: DL Leonard Williams
- 3. Jacksonville Jaguars: LB Dante Fowler, Jr.
- 4. Oakland Raiders: WR Amari Cooper
- 5. Washington Redskins: LB Vic Beasley
- 6. New York Jets: QB Marcus Mariota
- 7. Chicago Bears: WR Kevin White
- 8. Atlanta Falcons: LB Shane Ray
- 9. New York Giants: T/G Brandon Scherff
- 10. St. Louis Rams: WR DeVante Parker