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First Round Pick Predictions

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April 24th, 2019

The first round of the 2019 NFL Draft takes place in the Music City, Nashville, Tennessee tomorrow evening. A few of the writers at VikingNations have teamed up to predict our first round picks including an analysis.

Jonah Williams 

By: Zach Brown 
While looking into who the Vikings might select in this year’s draft I came across an interesting statistic: since 2010, the Vikings have only selected an offensive lineman in the first round once and the second round once. You read that right, TWO offensive lineman between the first and second round in nine drafts, and only one since Mike Zimmer took over as coach in 2014. 

Something to keep in mind is the previously mentioned second rounder was tackle Brian O’Neill, and he was drafted in 2018. So basically, the Vikings had a span of more than of a decade where they completely abandoned a position group which ultimately led to their demise in 2018. 

The purpose of this article though is not to talk where the Vikings have gone wrong in previous drafts but how to turn around what has turned into their biggest headache. The Vikings have a chance to make up for all the years of drafting of late round mediocre offensive lineman and get a player that can be an immediate starter for a depleted offensive line group and become a reliable player for years to come.  

Minnesota has done an excellent of drafting and developing players and that has given them the luxury to draft based on need rather than best talent available. Normally, I am under the mindset of drafting the best player available, but this draft is a special case. Drafting a highly rated offensive tackle or guard will give a huge boost to a Minnesota offensive line that already has improved by signing free agent  guard Josh Kline this offseason, and I believe the player they will select is former Alabama tackle Jonah Williams.

Jonah Williams is a versatile player, meaning he can play left tackle, right tackle or even guard if needed. A versatile player if something they needing considering the uncertainty from the current offensive line. Williams has been on the record saying he prefers to play tackle rather than making the switch to guard, but unless talks of tackle Riley Reiff switching to guard come to fruition, look for him to make that switch to guard this season. 

One thing that sets Williams apart from the other lineman in this draft is his technique. Many experts have said that Williams’ technique is the best in this draft class, which is important to succeed at the next level. Believing that Williams will fall to 18 could be wishful thinking, but some of the physical tools he lacks such as long arms could scare enough teams that are picking before Minnesota. Any lack of skills he has though, I believe, he will make up for though with his football IQ. The Vikings will draft him at 18 and plug him in as an immediate starter.

Andre Dillard 

By: Tanishka Mhaskar
It’s pretty well established that we need to draft offensive line, at least if GM Rick Spielman wants to go home. One intriguing option would be OT Andre Dillard out of Washington State. 

Dillard is a premier left tackle who excels in pass blocking because of Washington State’s air raid offense. He’s a talented four year starter who has adequate core power with good arm length. He’s quick and has balance to adjust to second level targets and strike with force. 

The only negative about Dillard is the lack of tape on him run blocking, due to the style of Washington State’s offense. With Coach Zimmer nagging to run the ball more, the Vikings must be sure of run blocking that can be coached. 

If we draft Dillard, Reiff will likely move in to play left guard, which he played some in college. The two bookends of Dillard and O”Neill would be a lethal duo of athletic tackles for the next decade.

Noah Fant 

By: AJ Condon
Yes, the offensive line is an issue for the Minnesota Vikings, however, they made that a key area for improvement during free agency and signed a few new players which could open up their first round pick in the upcoming draft.

The offensive line could still use some help and that could be done in the second and even the third round because I believe Noah Fant, tight end, is a player who could impact the offense even more. When Kirk Cousins came to Minnesota, I was really excited to see what he would do with Kyle Rudolph. 

From 2015-2017, Kirk Cousins was the best quarterback in the NFL while working with two TEs. He completed 177 passes for a combined total of 2,621 yards. His completion percent was also very accurate for this big of a sample size coming in at 69.1 percent. Having Fant work with Rudolph in a two TE set would allow Cousins to work like he did in Washington with Reed and Davis.

In Fant’s sophomore and junior years at Iowa, he combined for over 1,000 yards and 18 touchdowns on 69 receptions. He also destroyed the NFL Combine this year, leading TEs in: 40 yard dash with 4.50 seconds, vertical jump with 39.5 inches, broad jump with 127 inches, three cone drill with 6.81, and the sixty yard shuffle with 11.49 seconds. This guy is a freak athlete!

Drafting Fant with our first round pick and addressing the offensive line in the later rounds is a smart move for the Vikings and I think will have the biggest effect with Cousins improvement this year.

Christian Wilkins 

By: Preet Shah
I know that most people will come at me saying that we need to draft an offensive lineman, but we’ve seen time after time that Spielman drafts for best player available (BPA) over need. With the departure of Sheldon Richardson and Linval Joseph, 30 years old, beginning to slowly decline, the Vikings may need to address defensive tackle early on in this draft.

This is why I think they will draft Christian Wilkins, who starred on the Clemson defensive line where he played alongside fellow potential first-round picks in Dexter Lawrence and Clelin Ferrell. On such a star-studded defensive line you could see Wilkins impact in all aspects of play from him stopping the run to rushing the passer. In his senior season, Wilkins racked up 14 tackles for loss along with 5.5 sacks. 

Wilkins was actually eligible last year to enter the draft, and in all likelihood would have been a first round pick. Instead, he decided to come back to get a shot at another national championship and to be able to become a substitute teacher. Ask any coach at Clemson and they will rave about Wilkins’ character and the positive impact he has on his teammates. Wilkins seems to be a guy who can bring a winning culture to a team.

If the Vikings draft Wilkins, they could also put Joseph in a spot where he could mentor Wilkins and teach him some of the skills to be able to succeed while he ages gracefully and eventually either retires or moves to another team. In short, the fact that Vikings always go BPA over need along with this year’s defensive line class being one of the best in recent memories and Wilkins character it truly would not be a surprise to see his name called during the Vikings pick.

The draft is in around 24 hours, and the angst of the first round pick and the offensive line will be hopefully put at rest, but make sure to turn in tomorrow evening!