Friday, April 20, 2018

Six players the Vikings may consider early in the NFL Draft

Photo: Gridiron Now

The NFL Draft is less than a week away and Daniel House analyzed six first or second round options for the Vikings. 

Updated: April 20, 2018, 4:10 p.m.

By: Daniel House

The NFL Draft is less than a week away, which means teams across the league are finishing up their draft boards. With the Vikings holding the No. 30 pick, they will likely have the chance to select a very talented player. The team will likely target an offensive lineman early, but they have the flexibility to potentially select the best player available with their first pick. The offensive line class is strong and there's a chance many quality players could slide to No. 62. Perhaps GM Rick Spielman will elect to trade back and accumulate an additional mid-round pick. It all depends upon who is available when the Vikings are on the clock. With a strong emphasis on quarterbacks in the draft, there's a chance one blue-chip offensive lineman could be available. If that's the case the trigger will likely be pulled. However, it's worth considering some potential options for the Vikings in the first two rounds.

Here are a few players to think about:

Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia:

Outside of Quenton Nelson, Isaiah Wynn is easily my favorite interior offensive line prospect. Wynn is very athletic and possesses the movement skills needed to fit within the Vikings' blocking scheme. He can get in space and find blockers in the second level, paving the way for screens and pin-and-pull action.

Wynn's strong hands and technique separate him from other prospects in this class. He locks defenders up when he gets under their pads and finishes blocks with a mean streak. I spent an extensive amount of time discussing Wynn's skill-set in a recent post. He is arguably the best fit for the Vikings in terms of draft prospects on the offensive line. Each year, Offensive linemen are always over slotted in mock drafts as teams are in a frenzy to select quarterbacks and valuable skill players within the first twenty picks. There's a remote chance Wynn will be available, and if he is, there is no question he's the man to select at No. 30.

Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State: 

Many people see the Vikings selecting an offensive lineman or defensive player with the first pick. An outside the box pick is South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert. The Vikings have been searching for a matchup threat tight end recently and Goedert is the perfect fit. When you watch offensive coordinator John DeFilippo's tape at Cleveland, along with Philadelphia's' red zone packages, you'll see this type of player is important. Goedert can be flexed all over the field to create mismatches against defensive backs and linebackers. He can line up at split end and take the top off of defenses via a simple fade. However, he's most dominant across the middle in traffic.
When I watch his tape, I see a blend of Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce and Philadelphia's Zach Ertz.


I know John DeFilippo is thinking about what he could do with interchangeable pieces like Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Kendall Wright, Kyle Rudolph and a unique athlete like Goedert.

If you take a close look at Goedert's tape you notice a few themes: excellent hands and a player who gets extensive separation in the short-to-intermediate passing game. He also flourishes in traffic, winning contested catch battles in the second level. This is something he improved drastically during his senior season.

Goedert can place stress on a defense at all three levels, which is attractive in the Vikings' offense. Could the team decide to head in this direction? I wouldn't be shocked.

Frank Ragnow, OG/C, Arkansas
Over the past two weeks, arguably no prospect is gaining more momentum than Frank Ragnow. He has been flying all over the country for visits as teams continue to evaluate him. Ragnow missed the last month of the season with an ankle injury, causing him to fly under the radar. He did not allow a sack over 2,603 career snaps at center and right guard in Arkansas. Ragnow is going to provide a team with tremendous value. He can play guard or center and could potentially kick out to tackle in a pinch. At 6-foot-5, 312 pounds, Ragnow has impressive length and size for an interior offensive lineman. He is a road grader in the running game and plows through the second level to open lanes. More importantly, he has proven he has sound movement skills. When watching his games, I noticed a player who can pull into space to find work. Here's a film cut I shared on Twitter of Ragnow's movement skills:

Ragnow was also impressive in the screen game, mauling linebackers and defensive backs to open lanes for running backs. He checks all of the boxes for a Vikings offensive line prospect: physicality, movement skills, technique and smarts. With the recent momentum in his stock, it wouldn't be surprising if he was selected within the first 25 picks. The Chanhassen, Minn. native has met with the Vikings during top-30 visits and is certainly on their radar.

Lorenzo Carter, LB, Georgia
A five-star recruit in high school, Lorenzo Carter never really developed to the level everyone anticipated. In an NFL system with a quality defensive staff, the sky is the limit for a player with Carter's skill-set. He is extremely rangy, athletic and is very gifted when he moves sideline-to-sideline. Carter was a playmaker at Georgia, finishing sacks and blocking kicks on special teams. He was a sound tackler, flashing a relentless pursuit on tape. Carter posted 14 sacks in four seasons at Georgia, showing an ability to get after the passer. He also led the team with 3.5 forced fumbles, including an impressive scoop-and-score early last season.

Carter is sound in coverage and can be flexed around the line of scrimmage during pressure packages. He could be a "jack in the box" type player for Mike Zimmer's defense. He could play in the base 4-3 at outside linebacker and can rotate into the nickel package. This would help slightly decrease the snap counts for Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr, who currently shoulder a large load in the Vikings' defense. Carter needs to add more weight to his frame, but there is no doubt he is a threat when he gets downhill going toward the quarterback. The clip below shows him coming off the edge and stripping the quarterback in the process.


He also has experience playing in Double A-gap looks, a key fixture in Mike Zimmer's defense. Check it out below:

If there's a player who would be a luxury pick for the Vikings, it's Carter. He is very disruptive and active without having all of the tools developed yet. Perhaps he'll be available at No. 62. If he is, Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman might pull the trigger. The Vikings have met with Carter extensively, including a top-30 visit.

Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
Nobody is really talking about Colorado cornerback Isaiah Oliver all that much. However, they should be. If you want a physical cornerback with a high amount of intangibles, Oliver is your cornerback. He possesses above average speed for a player with a 6-foot-1 profile. Oliver was on the track team at Colorado and his dad followed a similar path, playing both football and track at Oregon. Oliver has many of the traits Mike Zimmer has historically preferred with defensive backs. He makes plays on the ball, posting 13 pass breakups last year. The clip below is just one of many examples where he uses his ball skills, length, speed and leaping ability to make a play. He moves really well on the field, keeping wide receivers on his hips when he's forced to play tight coverage. He gets into passing lanes often because of it.

There is certainly a need for improvement from a technique standpoint, especially when you see him backpedal out of his break. Receivers gets separation at the stem of his routes because he takes too many steps. This results in him needing to overcompensate with his athletic ability/length. You'll notice this is the case even on notable splash plays. Mike Zimmer and defensive back coach Jerry Gray can coach this out of him, especially because he is excellent in press coverage and has all the physical tools. More importantly, he isn't grabby, either. He is aggressive, plays with above average ball skills and has a tremendous amount of upside. If Trae Waynes departs in two years, Oliver can be developing in the shadows and will provide depth in a secondary searching for options outside of their top-three. Ease Oliver along, coach him correctly and he has the chance to be a really talented boundary corner.

Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
If you've been following along on Twitter or on this website, you know how highly I value Memphis wide receiver Anthony Miller. I think NFL teams are starting to take notice, too. It wouldn't be shocking if Miller is selected in the late first or early second round. I spent plenty of time talking about Miller in a recent post. He is one of the most efficient route runners in this class. The clip below is just a small sample of what he can do out of his breaks.

Miller isn't exclusively a slot wide receiver, either. He can be a threat on the outside, in the slot, or in space via a quick bubble screen. Miller's ability to gain extensive separation out of his breaks pairs beautifully with his skills after the catch. He is very similar to Stefon Diggs when you watch him run routes and take over games with his competitive playing style. In the red zone, Miller can make contested grabs and shows strong hands, finishing difficult grabs outside of his frame. A walk-on who begged the coaches to give him a chance, Miller has a fantastic story and would fit nicely in the Vikings' locker room. He is going to be selected earlier than people anticipate, so he might not be an option. This is especially the case considering the Vikings need a defensive player and offensive line prospects early in the draft.

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