With mock draft season in full swing, several prospects are beginning to be linked to their new teams. Although some first-round fits seem obvious (like Bradley Chubb to Indianapolis), others aren’t so clear. For the Minnesota Vikings, having a successful draft will be imperative to their success in 2018. Here are some of the Vikings’ best fits in the 2018 NFL Draft:
Note: This is not a prediction of who the Vikings will take, rather an analysis of which players fit into the Vikings’ scheme best, as well as filling a positional need.
Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Big. Physical. Ball-hawking. These three traits are all you need to know about Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson. In his junior year at Iowa, Jackson tallied a jaw-dropping 27 passes defended and did not allow a single touchdown after Week 4. Head coach Mike Zimmer is also seen throughout the NFL as a cornerback guru.
Coach Zimmer loves long corners that play well in press coverage, such as Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes. Although he isn’t the fastest corner, Jackson’s playmaking ability would be an excellent addition to Minnesota’s already stout defense.
Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
With his limited time at the position and raw athletic ability, Vander Esch draws a striking resemblance to current Viking Anthony Barr. In college, both players were elite athletes that needed additional coaching. Although Barr displayed more pass-rushing ability in college, Vander Esch makes up for it with his instincts. Vander Esch is rarely caught off-guard and can be on the field for all three downs.
If selected by the Vikings, he would immediately fit in as the team’s 4-3 “WILL” linebacker. If he improves his play strength, Vander Esch could also play at middle linebacker in either a 4-3 or 3-4 formation.
Isaiah Wynn, Guard, Georgia
Out of all the players on this list, Wynn is the most likely to be drafted by the Vikings. Wynn played left tackle in college but will likely be a guard in the NFL. Wynn is one of the most technically sound guards in this year’s draft, displaying solid run blocking and above-average pass protection. His versatility on the offensive line would be desirable for any NFL team, but is especially so for the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings have a major hole to fill at guard and could also use help at tackle. Wynn would serve as an excellent protector of the newly-minted Kirk Cousins, no matter which position he would play.
Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech
Settle has a rare combination of size, strength, and agility at the defensive tackle position. Although he is widely seen as a nose tackle, he does have some of the traits necessary to turn him into a dominant inside pass-rusher. Settle played as both a nose tackle and a three-technique at Virginia Tech, giving him added versatility.
Several scouts have compared Settle to Dontari Poe, who was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012. With additional coaching to improve his pass-rushing ability, Settle may eventually reach Poe’s level.
If selected by the Vikings, he will rotate with Sheldon Richardson and Linval Joseph at defensive tackle.
Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina State
Like Vander Esch, Darius Leonard is an extremely fast linebacker with below-average play strength. Leonard has four years of playing experience at South Carolina State, and it shows on the field. He can diagnose plays and react very quickly, allowing him to pile up tackles. Although he did not play against high-level competition in the MEAC, his traits should transfer to the NFL nicely.
If he were to come to Minnesota, Leonard would pair with Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr to form an impressive linebacking trio. This, along with the coaching of Mike Zimmer, would allow Leonard to thrive with the Vikings.
Frank Ragnow, Center, Arkansas
Ragnow is another offensive lineman that may see a position change in the NFL. Although he is best suited as a center, Ragnow has the size and strength to also fill in as a solid starting guard. He is solid in both pass and run blocking and would fit new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo’s scheme perfectly. Since the Vikings already have their starting center in Pat Elflein, Ragnow would likely start as the team’s left or right guard.
Featured image from vikings.com
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