Vikings gather no
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Every few years, the Minnesota Vikings have returned to the well in the first round of the NFL draft, seeking the type of game-breaking wide receiver Randy Moss was. Next weekend, they could be back. “If there’s a good one there when we’re ready to pick, then I have no problem taking a wide receiver,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “The more playmakers you get, the better chance you have of increasing big plays.” Here are some key angles to keep an eye on with the Vikings next weekend during the draft:
PASS-CATCHING CANDIDATES: Laquon Treadwell (Mississippi), Josh Doctson (TCU), Will Fuller (Notre Dame), Corey Coleman (Baylor) and Michael Thomas (Ohio State) are the top prospects at wide receiver this year.
Treadwell recovered from a gruesome left ankle injury in 2014 to lead the SEC with 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2015. Doctson recorded a 41-inch vertical jump at the NFL scouting combine, the highest of the wide receivers and third-best overall. Fuller ran a 4.32-second 40-yard dash at the combine, the fastest at his position of those who participated and second overall. Coleman won the Biletnikoff Award for the country’s most outstanding wide receiver. Thomas might have the most well-rounded skill set of the group.
DOES SIZE AT WIDE RECEIVER MATTER? Because Diggs (listed at 6- 0, 195) and Wright (listed at 5-10, 191) are the two top returning wide receivers, there’s an assumption the Vikings need a bigger body or two from this draft. Thomas, Treadwell and Doctson would fit that description. Coleman and Fuller are on the smaller side.
Evaluation isn’t as simple as assessing height and weight, though.
“Some guys 5-10 play bigger than that guy who is 6-2, so that’s where you have to base it off your evaluation,” general manager Rick Spielman said. “One guy in particular has longer arms and bigger hands than a guy who is three inches taller than him, so he plays bigger. What’s his catching radius? How does he make plays?”
QUEUED UP: The Vikings have eight picks, including the No. 23 slot in each of the first five rounds plus the seventh. They have the fifth selection of the sixth round, via San Francisco from the trade of linebacker Gerald Hodges. They also have the No. 19 pick in the seventh round from Buffalo for the deal of quarterback Matt Cassel.
The Vikings traded their original sixth-rounder to San Diego for tackle Jeremiah Sirles.
DEEP D-LINE: Led by Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph, the Vikings have a sound defensive line with every starter and backup returning. This is considered a deep pool of rookies at the position, though, so the Vikings might be wise to dip in. “You can never have enough pass rushers,” Spielman said. THREE YEARS AGO: The Vikings had the No. 23 pick in 2013, too, when they selected defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd out of Florida.
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