The upcoming NFL Draft is historic for the wide receiver position. Draft analysts across the board have upwards of 30 prospects that have grades at round 3 or better. Because of that, similar to the 2015 draft where the Vikings got a talent like Diggs in round 5, there is going to be a player or two that slides into day 3 at the position. With the other positions that the Vikings need to fill with quality starters for today and tomorrow are solid groups, none of them are quite as good as the receiver class. With it looking more and more likely that Vikings will take a wide receiver in the first round, there is a scenario where the Vikings wait until day 3 to take one of these receivers. Here is what the Vikings draft on days one and two could look like if they go zero wide receiver, along with a couple of day 3 wide receiver targets to consider.
22. OT Josh Jones, Houston
With the zone scheme that Gary Kubiak instilled with the Vikings last season, Josh Jones is the perfect tackle. A 4 year starter at Houston, Jones has the size at 6’5” and 311 pounds and athleticism to thrive with the Vikings. While he does need some help in the strength department, Brian O’Neill did when he joined the Vikings and has done a good job building it on the job. With the proper coaching, Jones can develop over time into a top 10/15left tackle in football.
25. CB Jeff Gladney, TCU
In this draft, the Vikings get two cornerbacks who are the prototypical Mike Zimmer corner: physical, feisty and good ball skills. The first one is Jeff Gladney from TCU. If you want to see the kind of corner Gladney is, turn on the tape against Baylor when he and Denzel Mims. They went to war and the 6’ 183 pound Gladney held his own and even got the better of the 6’4” 238 pound Mims. He is fast, quick and has the ability to stay in the receivers hip pocket. The feisty and aggressive play style will make Zimmer fall in love.
58. CB Damon Arnette, Ohio State
Another Zimmer corner, Damon Arnette is another big, physicalcorner. While he can excel in the slot, Arnette is best suited on the outside. A player who excels in man coverage, Arnette is great about getting up and staying up in your business throughout the route. At Ohio State, he only had 5 interceptions, but Zimmer will love his 22 passes defended. He is capable of being a role player right away with the potential to be a starter down the line.
89. DT Jordan Elliott, Missouri
With the flashes he showed the last two seasons at Missouri, it seems weird to have Jordan Elliot here at 89. While the flashes are great, the production isn’t quite there. With just 5.5 sacks and 76 total tackles in college, he is still available at 89. Elliott has the ability to shoot the gap and penetrate in both the run and pass game. Pairing him with Andre Patterson could bring the best out of Elliott at the next level.
105.EDGE Jabari Zuniga, Florida
Following the Danielle Hunter blueprint the Vikings laid out in 2015, they take another high upside ultra athletic pass rusher in Jabari Zuniga. While he had more production in college (18.5 sacks to Hunter’s 4.5), the athletic parallels are there. Per MockDraftable, Zuniga has a 97th percentile broad jump and a 93rd percentile 40-yard dash and his closest athletic comparison is already on the roster in Ifadi Odenigbo. Zuniga will need some time to develop to be a full time starter, but he can come in and be at minimum a rotational pass rusher right away.
If the draft went like this, the Vikings get two starting caliber corners, a left tackle of the future, and two athletic defensive lineman to give to Andre Patterson. The wide receiver position still needs to be addressed. Who are some good targets for the Vikings on day 3? Here are a few good options.
Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty
A riser out of Liberty, Gandy-Golden has the size and ball skills that every NFL team wants on their team. His ability to track and high point the football is arguably the best in this class. He doesn, however, struggle to separate and has never been asked to run a full route tree. Early on, Gandy-Golden would be a situational receiver who is an intriguing long term project for a team that has overall done a good job developing receivers.
KJ Hill, Ohio State
When I was at the Senior Bowl, I came away very impressed with KJ Hill. His smooth route running and explosion out of his breaks were among the best in Mobile. At Ohio State, he caught the most balls in program history and excels in the short/intermediate game. Hill projects best in the slot at the next level who can create separation with his route running and quickness underneath.
Collin Johnson, Texas
Similar to Gandy-Golden, Collin Johnson is a prototypical above the rim receiver. At 6’6” and 221 pounds, he has excellent jump ball ability and does a good job at stacking the corner on deep balls. Johnson is however, an inconsistent route runner. While he has a lot of positives to bring to a team, he is a day 3 player with little upside on special teams, which could cause him to fall farther down teams’ boards.
Quintez Cephus, Wisconsin
Quintez Cephus is an interesting case study. While he is a relatively smaller receiver at 6’1” and 207 pounds, Cephus is incredibly physical when running routes and does a good job separating. He doesn’t have that next gear when it comes to speed, but he plays fast and is good with the ball in space. He is available on day 3 partially because he was accused of sexual assault in 2018 which he missed the entire season for. While charges were ultimately dropped, any NFL team that selects Cephus would have to be comfortable with the situation before taking a risk on Cephus.