When it comes to the NFL and Mock Drafts, it’s fun to navigate your way through and try and think of different ways you can ‘Make’ your team better. Everyone has their own vision for the team, and all the back and forth and speculation is what makes the offseason so fun! Unfortunately, the sad reality is, is almost all Mock Drafts that are created, almost never come to fruition, and most guys drafted won’t amount to much. In a perfect world, all the draft picks that we mock to our favorite would become starters, and all the names that every other teams fanbase loves including our team would land with us. but that’s just not what’s going to happen. So when I went through this Mock, I tried to think about it a little bit differently than maybe what we’ve seen over the past two to three months. So without further adieu, lets get into it. My one and only “official” Vikings Mock Draft.
1st Round Pick – 25th Overall (from BUF): Kaiir Elam CB, Florida
Vikings Trade Pick 12 to Philadelphia for Pick 15 and Pick 83
Vikings Trade Pick 15 and Pick 191 to Buffalo for Pick 25 and Pick 57
This draft for the Vikings starts off with two trade downs, which Vikings fans are quite familiar with. But when going through I did hesitate pulling the trigger on a second trade back. The first makes sense. Secure a 3rd round pick and move back, but when we talk about the holes that the Vikings need to fill, it made sense to move back one more time and secure a good CB in Kaiir Elam. The top of this CB class is always talked about in regards to Sauce Gardner, Derek Stingley Jr., Trent McDuffie, and Andrew Booth. But I feel like not enough people talk about with Kaiir Elam. He’s a long, physical corner, who gets a little grabby at times, but has proved to be an efficient CB, while facing top talent in the SEC. Elam, no doubt will need some NFL coaching to help him improve upon his game. But, when you compile the amount of draft capital you attained from trading back, while also selecting Elam here, it feels like a no brainer.
2nd Round Pick – 46th Overall: Leo Chenal, LB Wisconsin
I understand that this will not be a popular pick among Vikings fans. But when you consider the state of the Vikings LB core, it could use some help. Eric Kendricks is 30 years old and has a cap hit of $11M in ’23. On top of that, the only other guys on roster are Jordan Hicks (signed from AZ this offseason), Chazz Surratt, Ryan Connelly, Tuf Borland, and Troy Dye. That’s not exactly a group to brag about. Insert Leo Chenal, a Big Ten athletic Linebacker with the speed an agility to match up against TE’s and RB’s and shut them down. Chenal plays with a physicality and disruption that could help a weak Vikings LB core, that’s sorely in need of depth and talent.
2nd Round Pick – 54th Overall (from NE): Roger McCreary, CB Auburn
Vikings Trade Pick 57 (from BUF) and Pick 156 to New England for Pick 54 and Pick 200
This is starting to feel like a Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman Draft here, and I get it. But hear me out, the Vikings take a little bit of the ammo they acquired in some trade backs to move up and improve the depth at CB. Roger McCreary is a shorter cornerback (only 5’11) who is mainly talked about as a 2nd round draft pick. But he certainly has a lot of upside. He’s a three year starter out of Auburn who has proven that he’s a capable CB, especially in press coverage. Where the concern comes into play is his size and length and his instinctiveness on the field. Nonetheless, he’s a good, proven, college CB, with immense upside.
3rd Round Pick – 77th Overall: Dylan Parham, C/G Memphis
There will be two reactions to this pick, and they will either be “Oh an offensive lineman.” or “OH, AN OFFINSIVE LINEMAN”, both answers are correct. Listen, I’m not to fond of taking OL in round three, I mean clearly it’s worked so well in the past (insert Wyatt Davis). But in this situation specifically I think it makes a lot of sense. Parham is a fluid offensive lineman with crazy amounts of flexibility with ton’s of upside. Even with the upside though, he’s just a little bit undersized than what you would like. Taking Parham here is a long term potential play to either help you out at G, or potentially replace Garett Bradbury at C starting in 2023.
3rd Round Pick – 83rd Overall (from PHI): Bryan Cook, S Cincinnati
We’ve heard a lot of talk about secondary help when it comes to corner, but I feel like not many people are taking about the depth behind our current starters at Safety. As it stands today the Vikings have Harrison Smith, and Cameron Bynum slated to be the starting safeties when the season starts. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have depth at the position. Darren ‘Doogie’ Wolfson, of KSTP and Skor North has stated many times on his podcast “The Scoop Podcast” that the Vikings will likely address the Safety position at some point. Bryan Cook is a good developmental prospect to potentially snag here. He clearly has some traits that many NFL teams will be drawn to, specifically his tackling ability and run defense. But the reason he’s a Day 2/3 pick is he’s really only a one year starter with a lot of raw ability. The Vikings shouldn’t be worried about that here, they can take him and let him learn and develop and maybe blossom into a key player on Ed Donnatell’s defense
4th Round Pick – 114th Overall (from WAS): James Mitchell, TE West Virginia
Vikings Trade Pick 184, Pick 200, and a Future 2023 4th Round Pick to Washington for Pick 114
There was a gap in picks here where I felt like the Vikings needed to make a move up to grab someone, so lets snag a TE with huge upside in my opinion. Insert James Mitchell. Many thought Mitchell would be a great draft pick heading into the season but a torn ACL derailed his season and his draft stock. So, unfortunately all we can take we can take away is, is what we saw prior to that. Which was an all around TE, who is willing to get dirty and block but also burst off the LOS and exploit defense’s downfield. His route running as a TE is quite polished, and if he can make a full recovery, could be a key player for the Vikings in the upcoming season, especially if Irv goes down.
6th Round Pick – 192nd Overall: Josh Johnson, WR Tulsa
With no 5th round pick, and not a lot more ammo to trade up, the Vikings settle on a WR with a whole lot of upside. Josh Johnson is a guy who is likely known for dropping the ball quite a bit, but I wouldn’t be so hung up on that as each year he’s progressed his drop rate has decreased. What you should know about Josh Johnson is that he’s very versatile. He’s got a twitchiness about his game that make’s defenders miss especially in the open field. Where he struggles is securing the football. I think if you can work with Johnson and get his confidence up, he could be a capable WR3 with a low WR2 ceiling.
7th Round Pick – 250th Overall: Kaleb Eleby, QB Western Michigan
Last but not least, the Vikings take a QB in my mock. I get it, they just took Kellen Mond last year, but honestly the reviews we have heard about him, aren’t anything spectacular. Additionally, you can just never have enough QB’s in my opinion. You should always be taking one and trying to develop them in hopes they become something. Kaleb Eleby is that guy this year. Eleby has a strong arm, and the ability to navigate the pocket with ease. But where he struggles is accuracy and decision making. He almost seems skittish at time, which honestly at this pick doesn’t bother me. We’re looking at guys who can be developed, and Eleby is one of those guys.
Who knows if any of these guys will even get drafted by the Vikings, but it’s always fun to speculate on the outcome that is the NFL Draft. When it’s all said and done, we need to trust the decision makers within the organization and hope that they see something in the guys they draft, and hopefully they become the next gem. All I know is the Vikings appear to be in good hands heading into this Draft, and there a countless different ways they could approach this draft. But if one thing is for certain, I will bet my life that they take a CB, and when they do, it’ll be a sad day for Mike Zimmer, because he would’ve loved to take one too.