The 2015 NFL Draft is just a few days away, and there’s plenty of reason to be excited about the festivities in Chicago if you’re a Minnesota Vikings fan. Here’s our breakdown of everything Vikings fans need to know heading into draft week.
Trae Waynes A Top Target For Minnesota?
There is a near-consensus pick by most major draft experts when it comes to the Vikings' #11 pick, and it's Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes.
Citing Minnesota's lack of depth in the secondary, eight top mock drafts have Waynes at the top of Minnesota's board. Here's what those experts had to say:
Todd McShay, ESPN: Waynes. “The Vikings could still afford to upgrade their wide receiver depth chart even after the Mike Wallace trade,” McShay wrote. “But the cornerback position opposite Xavier Rhodes is a bigger need. Coach Mike Zimmer ideally wants two corners who can hold up in press-man coverage, and Waynes is the best cornerback prospect in this draft and best-suited for press-man, with very good straight-line speed and technique. In Rhodes and Waynes, Minnesota would have a very good pair of corners.”
Charles Davis, NFL Network: Waynes. “The Vikings continue to make strides, fulfilling the image of coach Mike Zimmer by becoming a very good defensive team,” Davis wrote. “Waynes is an immediate starter and producer.”
Rob Rang, CBS Sports: Waynes. “Given the caliber of receivers Minnesota faces in the NFC North, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see defensive-minded head coach Mike Zimmer push for another long, lanky corner for his scheme, especially should the top talent at the position fall in his lap,” Rang wrote.
Jamie Newberg, Scout.com: Waynes. “I am so tempted to change my Minnesota mock pick to wide receiver Devante Parker but I have gone with Trae Waynes from practically the beginning,” Newberg wrote. “I still have strong feeling that the draft’s top corner will be picked inside the top 10. But by who?”
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Waynes. “Waynes becomes a pretty decent value as the top cornerback in the draft,” he wrote. “The Vikings have a need there and, at a position where I feel like the transition from college to pro is as pronounced as it is at any place on the field, Waynes has the range of skills that add up to a guy who can help out early in his career. The Vikings are in decent shape up front, but they lack both depth and size at cornerback, which is no fun in this division.”
Dane Brugler, CBS Sports: Waynes. “While the Terrance Newman signing was good for depth, the Vikings still have a need at cornerback and could draft the top defensive back on their board with this pick,” Brugler wrote.
Doug Farrar, Sports Illustrated: Waynes. “Do the Vikings need a receiver for Teddy Bridgewater?” Farrar wrote. “You bet they do, but this is such a deep receiver class, and head coach Mike Zimmer needs a top-flight cornerback to pair with Xavier Rhodes even more. … Waynes isn’t a perfect cornerback, but he’s aggressive, plays well against top opponents, and he can establish leverage on deep passes. If he can develop more toughness against the run, Minnesota could have one of the better young cornerback duos in the NFL.”
Eric Edholm, Yahoo Sports: Waynes. “Have no illusions: Terence Newman signing with the Vikings does not preclude them from drafting a cornerback high,” Edholm wrote. “Waynes fits the Mike Zimmer mold, and adding another man-cover corner — along with the underrated Xavier Rhodes — allows Zimmer to be very aggressive with the talented defense he’s building there.”
GM Rick Spielman To Wheel And Deal Once Again?
The Minnesota Vikings have made at least three draft day trades in each of GM Rick Spielman’s three years at the helm.
According to Andrew Krammer of 1500 ESPN, there’s no reason not to expect that trend to continue in the 2015 NFL Draft:
The Vikings currently sit with seven draft picks — 11th, 45th, 76th, 110th, 137th (via BUF), 228th and 232nd (via MIA). Spielman likes to have 10 picks and hasn’t selected fewer than nine for the Vikings since 2011.
...given recent history, it’s likely the Vikings will be picking elsewhere in the first round whether they keep the No. 11 pick or not. Like any team coming off a 7-9 season, coach Mike Zimmer’s squad has many needs across the depth chart and after a relatively quiet free agency period, more picks will be beneficial for an organization that is already focused on building through the draft.
Philadelphia’s Chip Kelly would be on speed dial should Mariota fall to the Vikings at No. 11, but that’s unlikely given the handful of QB-needy teams and other trade possibilities in the top 10. But the perceived draft depth at some Vikings’ positions of need — OL, DL, WR, RB — could make trading down easier while the hyped prospects at the top could cultivate trade suitors, not to mention the mega trade chip sitting on the roster in Adrian Peterson, who has indicated he wants out of Minnesota.
While there's no indication that Peterson is on the table for a trade before the draft, one thing we know is that Spielman will reportedly have the final say over whether or not he's shipped off during the festivities in Chicago.
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