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NFL Mock Draft 1.0

Scott Wessels / April 6th, 2022 / Staff Image

 Countdown to the NFL Draft 2022 is T-minus 22 days, with 32 college football stars nervously hoping to hear their name called by NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell from the dais in the heart of the Las Vegas strip. Likewise, Vikings faithful are a mixture of caution and hope.

Cautious that new General Manager, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is not being held back by the restraints of the previous regime, many of whom still reside in the scouting offices in Eagan. Hopeful that his vision, and that of new coach, Kevin O'Connell, will bring a fresh drafting strategy - instead of a treasure chest of 7th round draft picks!

Already, the draft has a new look since the end of the 2021-22 season. Numerous trades throughout the order have changed many mock drafts within the past few weeks. Choosing to go with no trades, though pointing out where I think trades will happen. With three weeks to go, here is Viking Nations first stab at the NFL Mock Draft (1.0), Part I (Picks 1-16):

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Aidan Hutchinson (EDGE-Michigan): Before free agency, the number one priority for the Jags was to protect last year's number 1, Trevor Lawrence. They did that by getting both Cam Robinson and Brandon Scherff into the fold. Now they can shore up one of the worst defensive lines (5th worst in sacks last year) by drafting Hutchinson. Has the highest floor of all the edge rushers, maybe not the highest ceiling.
  2. Detroit Lions - Travon Walker (DL - Georgia): Kayvon Thibodeaux was the pick before the season for best edge rusher, now he's not even in the top 2. Walker had everybody buzzing after the combine in Indianapolis. Can play inside OR outside, with  an impressive burst for someone his size (4.51 40 time at 6'5", 275).
  3. Houston Texans - Ickey Ekwonu (OT - NC State): Texans can't be happy with the draft so far. Need an edge rusher, and top tier gone. Wouldn't surprise me if they traded down. As it stands, draft big fella up front to give QB Davis Mills time, and see what you have in that position.
  4. New York Jets - Kyle Hamilton (S - Notre Dame): Rumors that his slow 40 time are making his draft stock drop, but there is always a lot of smoke this time of the year. Best player on the board by far.
  5. New York Giants - Evan Neal (OT - Alabama): Is Daniel Jones any good? How can anyone truly judge (no pun intended) with the offensive line they've given him. Put Neal on his blind side, and give him a healthy Saquon Barkley. They'll know.
  6. Carolina Panthers - Kenny Pickett (QB - Pittsburgh): Teddy Two-Gloves redux? Small hands or not, Pickett is the safest bet for a team in NEED of a quarterback. Especially one with a head coach on the hot seat. Looking at you, Matt Rhule!
  7. New York Giants - Sauce Gardner (CB - Cincinnati): One of the best lock-down corners to come into the draft in a while. EVEY team could use one. Giants shored up offense with first pick, come around to the defensive side and take away half the field like another cornerback did in NY, just dressed in green.
  8. Atlanta Falcons - Drake London (WR - USC): TRADE ALERT! Falcons need everything, and are a prime candidate to trade down, with K.C. in possession of two 1st round picks, I can see them matching up as a trade partner and snagging London or Garrett Wilson.
  9. Seattle Seahawks - Charles Cross (OT - Miss. St): If a team wants to jump up to grab a QB, say Malik Willis, the Seahawks have given plenty of signals that they might draft one here. I'm thinking they want to draft down and collect draft capital for rebuild. If they stay, they NEED offensive line help, and Cross is the best on the board.
  10. New York Jets - Garrett Wilson (WR - OSU): Smooth like silk, catching every pass in his radius. Sounds like someone a young QB like Zach Wilson could use, no?
  11. Washington Commanders - Chris Olave (WR - OSU): Whichever Buckeye wide receiver the Jets don't take, the Commanders are. You traded for Wentz, better get him some weapons. Commanders good on defense, need offense.
  12. Minnesota Vikings - Trent McDuffie (CB - Washington): I know, I know. New coach, same ole draft strategy. But Vikings NEED a cornerback badly, and I'd rather let another team gamble on Derek Stingley Jr.'s future health. Tyler Linderbaum at center is a definite need, and I can see some in the war room clamoring for him. But he, like Garrett Bradbury, is considered undersized. Both are 6'3" 300 lbs. Hoping teams trade up (there WILL be trades) and insert more QBs ahead of the Vikings' pick, allowing someone like Sauce Gardner to fall into our laps. If Thibodeaux does freefall, he comes into play here, though I really think a trade happens above.
  13. Houston Texans - Derek Stingley Jr. (CB - LSU): In the middle of a rebuild, the Texans can afford to swing for the fences and hope he stays healthy. When healthy, Stingley was a top 5 player coming into this draft a year ago.
  14. Baltimore Ravens - Kayvon Thibodeaux (EDGE - Oregon): The fall has stopped with the Ravens. I truly think he's untouchable on a lot of boards for his motor and attitude. Many would rather draft Jermaine Johnson II over him. If he does start a freefall, I'd imagine a team from the 20's to trade up to snag him and hope to coach him up. He has all the tools, but does he want it?
  15. Philadelphia Eagles - Jordan Davis (DT - Georgia): You thought what Travon Walker did was wow? Davis, at 6'6", 340 lbs., ran a 4.82 40 yard dash! He's an improved Sheldon Richardson, able to stop the run, and rush the passer.
  16. New Orleans Saints - Trevor Penning (OT - Northern Iowa): This seems like the pick no one wants, going from Indy, to PHI, and now to NOLA. But New Orleans wanted this pick, and not for a QB. They wanted to leapfrog the Chargers, who are thin on the O-line. Saints need to keep Jameis Winston upright, and Penning is their guy.
Halfway through, and the biggest surprise? Kayvon Thibodeaux with the Rodgers-like fall, after seemingly a lock for a top 3 spot. A slow 40 time like Hamilton suffered can be swept away with good tape, production, and great instincts. Poor interviews, production, and tape? We'll see which team thinks they can unlock his potential.

Part II of the Mock Draft is tomorrow. Leave any comments on who you think the Vikings should take, and why.