The Intriguing Vikings Selections from NFL.com’s Recent Mock
Since the Vikings were eliminated, we’ve provided TVG’s readers with a couple mock draft roundups (feel free to check out the two articles). It became clear pretty early that most talent evaluators believe Minnesota needs to improve within the trenches. In this mini Minnesota Vikings mock draft roundup, we roll with only one mock. Our reason? Because NFL.com’s Chad Reuter goes three rounds (complete with trades, I hasten to add!). Let’s see what he had to say for our guys in purple.
Round 1: Jaelen Phillips
With the 19th overall pick (more on that in a moment), the Vikings select edge rusher Jaelen Phillips. He played his college ball at Miami. This is what Reuter had to say: “The Vikings had one of the worst pass rushes in the league in 2020 […] Phillips possesses a nice combination of pass-rush ability and strength to hold the line of scrimmage.” In this mock, Washington trades their 2nd along with the 19th pick to hop up to 14. Most Vikings fans would gladly drop 5 five spots if it means picking up a second.
The Draft Network has Phillips as their 29th-best prospect. They list him as 6’5, 258 pounds. They note that he was a five-star recruit and initially played with UCLA. He had several injuries, and eventually transferred to Miami. Everything finally “came together” in his 2020 season: “A balanced defender, Phillips is a playmaker against the run and pass, where his exciting blend of size, length, power, technique, and athleticism make him a challenge for offenses to neutralize. Phillips is a versatile player that has experience playing with his hand in the dirt on the edge, rushing from interior alignments, and playing in space in a standup role—which makes him a fit for all teams in the NFL.” They list some concerns about refining his technique and limited production in college.
Round 2: Andre Cisco
Drafting a safety makes a ton of sense. It’s arguably Minnesota’s thinnest position. Anthony Harris is likely a goner, and Harrison Smith is in the final year of a non-guaranteed contract. It’s unlikely Minnesota will let Smith get away, but they still need talent. This is where Cisco comes in (not that Sisco; that being said, if the singer can pass block, he should get on the phone with Spielman).
The Draft Network lists him as their 87th prospect. He is 6’0, 203 and played his college ball at Syracuse. He has a knack for big plays: “Syracuse safety Andre Cisco’s college career will be remembered for the frequent splash plays he made on the football that resulted in 13 interceptions and 14 pass breakups in just 24 games. He’s a ball magnet and his ability to take away the football makes him an appealing prospect. Not only is he a ballhawk, but Cisco’s size and athleticism are also both plus traits.”
The scouting report isn’t entirely positive, though. Cisco, like the rest of us, has to navigate the reality that his biggest strengths are also his biggest weaknesses. The ball-hawking can lead to blown coverage assignments, and there are concerns about several other facets of his game: “In addition, Cisco is inconsistent when it comes to run fills, tackling, mirroring routes in man, and anticipating routes in zone. From a technique standpoint, Cisco has considerable room for growth.”
Round 3: Trask, Smith, and McNeill
The pick that really stands out here is Kyle Trask at 78. The Vikings haven’t made drafting a QB a priority for a long time, but this may finally be the year. There has been some talk of improving at backup QB (both by yours truly and Josh Frey over at VT/PTSD). Drafting a backup with upside could really make sense. The 6’5, 239 pound QB is TDN’s 109th ranked prospect.
With the 90th pick, the Vikings address the iOL by selecting Trey Smith. It’s a somewhat unusual fit since he is listed at more than 330 pounds. Usually, the Vikings opt for leaner linemen. That being said, it may be time for Minnesota to adjust how they approach their offensive line (I did suggest just a few moments ago that Sisco take snaps at OL – yikes). Smith is TDN’s 83rd best prospect.
The final pick of the Reuter mock is the most intriguing to me. Alim McNeill offers a ton of upside. He played running back and linebacker in high school before transitioning to DT in college, per TDN. He is still somewhat raw, but Andre Patterson – the D-Line Whisperer – thrives with talented, raw linemen.
Take a look at TDN’s assessment: “McNeill is a powerful interior defender that is capable of controlling and resetting the line of scrimmage with his heavy hands and functional strength. While he wasn’t often asked to shoot gaps, he also has positive flashes of gap-penetration skills during his time at NC State. There is room for McNeill to grow as a pass rusher, but as it stands, his variety of rush moves and rush plan is underdeveloped. For a team in need of a short-yardage and early-down run stuffer that has a ceiling to develop into a more effective pass rusher, McNeill is a terrific mid-round option.”
The offseason has barely begun and already the mock drafts are plentiful. Indeed, the internet is currently the land flowing with prospects and conjecture. For many of us, it’s a ton of fun. For others, I’m sure it’s somewhat frustrating. It can often be much ado about nothing. Be that as it may, you can expect at least a handful more Minnesota Vikings mock draft roundups in the not too distant future. If you’ve got a prospect you like, be sure to let us hear about it in the comments.
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