We have made it! The NFL Draft is this month, and the closer we get, the more we start to hone in on who may actually be available at pick 18 for our Minnesota Vikings; even though it’s really all just a guess. Over the next four weeks I’ll be doing a series highlighting my four possibilities for the Vikings at pick 18 in this year’s upcoming draft. I’ve stood back and watched Vikings Twitter pound the table for certain prospects that they want with such conviction. It’s a fun debate, no doubt, but as we get closer and closer to the most anticipated day in the NFL offseason, it’s time to buckle up and really breakdown realistic options at pick 18, so let’s get to it.
Prospect: Andre Dillard
College: Washington State
Why he’d be good for the Vikings:
Well we can get the main reason out of the way on why he’d be good for the Vikings. We need offensive lineman, plain and simple. I think the preference among fans is a Tackle > Guard. But O-Line help is O-line help and we will get it wherever we can. Dillard is touted as one of the purest pass blocking tackles coming out of this draft, and many people expect him to come in and start Day 1. His footwork and mobility is something that many people consider to be a big plus when evaluating Andre Dillard. He’s quick off the snap and light on his feet, and has the ability to mirror edge rushers, which is something that nearly every NFL team is looking for when it comes to LT.
Dillard also was a three year starter at Washington State who got consistently better with each year that went by. This culminated in him allowing only one sack and 11 QB Hurries on 722 pass blocking snap’s his senior year. He shows great poise, is very consistent in pass protection, and because of his great footwork, rarely gets beat outside, as you’ll see below.
Things he needs to work on:
This section isn’t going to be so much why he’d be bad for the Vikings specifically, but instead will highlight what many believe to be the downfalls of Dillard. Even though he’s touted as the best pass blocking tackle in the draft, he’s got a lot to improve on. To start, Dillard’s run blocking needs work. However, I don’t really believe that it’s all Dillard’s fault. Dillard comes from a team who rarely ran the ball, and a coach who was quoted saying “I pay no attention whatsoever to developing them for the next level”; which you can read more about in this Draft Network article by Joe Marino. Combine those two things together and it’s no wonder run blocking is his downfall. But even though it’s a weakness for him, I think it’s something he can easily improve upon if he were to come here.
Aside from his run blocking, many say that he needs to gain some strength as well. While his footwork is impressive, if you have a defender bull rush him, it will almost assuredly push him back right into the QB. A mobile QB saves him from this being a sack in the video below.
Overall, I think that Dillard would be a terrific option for the Vikings at 18 if he is still there. Like any prospect he has some things that he needs to work on in order to take his skills to the next level, but for now his pass blocking ability and his great footwork should do just fine. He’s a day one starter for the Vikings and, with good coaching, he can be an anchor on the left side for years to come.