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Lunchbreak: NFL.com’s Zierlein Assesses 2018 OL Class, Vikings Needs

Posted Apr 16, 2018

The 2018 NFL Draft is now under two weeks away.

There’s plenty of speculation on which position the Vikings will target with their first draft pick, which right now is slated to be the 30th overall slot. A number of mock drafts have predicted an offensive lineman to Minnesota at No. 30.

NFL analyst Lance Zierlein took a deep look at this year’s offensive line class and opined that the Vikings have the fifth-greatest offensive line need in the league. Minnesota’s line was much improved from 2016 to 2017, but Zierlein said there’s still room to strengthen.

Zierlein listed his top five offensive tackles: Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame), Kolton Miller (UCLA), Joseph Noteboom (TCU), Orlando Brown (Oklahoma) and Will Richardson (N.C. State).

He then highlighted six interior linemen who he believes will have the greatest impact for an NFL team: G Quenton Nelson (Notre Dame), G Will Hernandez (UTEP), G Isaiah Wynn (Georgia), C James Daniels (Iowa), C Billy Price (Ohio State) and G Connor Williams (Texas).

Zierlein then went a step farther and placed players into additional superlative categories. He identified Western Michigan T Chukwuma Okorafor as the “most overrated” lineman, while N.C. State G Tony Adams was tabbed by Zierlein as the “most underrated.”

Adams can run outside and inside zone plays in his sleep thanks to his efficient movements, plus body control and consistent footwork. He was a tennis player as a youth, which is one of the reasons for his impressive feet, and his father was a wrestling coach, which plays into his understanding of leverage. Adams is undersized, which will hurt his draft slotting, but he’s a good football player with consistent tape and should become a NFL starter. He could turn out to be a Day 3 steal.

Williams was labeled “boom or bust,” and for his “sleeper alert” pick, Zierlein pointed out Hawaii C Dejon Allen, who lined up at left tackle in college. 

It’s hard to watch Allen’s performance for Hawaii vs. UCLA and not get excited. Allen wore the Bruins out all day long from his left tackle position. He can be a little inconsistent and he’s undersized, but I think he has the athletic ability, toughness and strength to become a starting center or guard if he can handle the position change.

‘Viking Update’ draft rewind: a look back at 2012 NFL Draft

The 2012 NFL Draft marked the first draft after Rick Spielman assumed the Vikings general manager role.

John Holler of Viking Update took a look back at that year as part of his “Draft Rewind” series. Holler said that Spielman “showed his willingness to make moves an hour before the draft even started” when he made a trade with the Cleveland Browns, which allowed the Vikings to move from No. 3 to No. 4 (where they drafted Matt Kalil) and pick up an extra fourth-round pick. They used that slot to grab Jarius Wright, who played six seasons for Minnesota.

Holler praised the Vikings approach to the second round, during which they drafted All-Pro safety Harrison Smith. He wrote:

Baltimore was sitting at No. 29 and the Vikings weren’t slated to pick until No. 35. The Vikings traded the third pick of the second round (No. 35) and the third pick of the fourth round (No. 98) – compensation a little heavier (according the semi-existent draft value chart) [than] the pick they got back would call for, but Spielman wanted his guy.

[…]

Smith may be the last man standing for the Class of 2012 in the Vikings locker room, but one thing that can be said with unquestioned certainty: Spielman’s first draft as the man in charge set the stage for his control of the organization.

Holler also looked at additional league-wide trends across the league, including the quarterback class that produced Kirk Cousins and other teams’ first rounders who eventually ended up on the Vikings roster.  

The first round of the draft would end up funneling a lot of players who were or are currently Vikings. In addition to Kalil and Smith, there was wide receiver Michael Floyd (No. 13, Arizona), wide receiver Kendall Wright (No. 20, Tennessee) and offensive tackle Riley Reiff (No. 23, Detroit).

He pointed out the first five picks were used for offensive players, but “defense ruled the day in the first round, making it one of the most prolific first rounds in the history of the draft.”

Defensive gems taken in the first round included CB Morris Claiborne (No. 6), safety Mark Barron (No. 7), LB Luke Kuechly (No. 9), CB Stephon Gilmore (No. 10), DT Dontari Poe (No. 11), DT Fletcher Cox (No. 12), DT Michael Brockers (14), DE Bruce Irvin (No. 15), LB Melvin Ingram (No. 16), DE Chandler Jones (No. 21), LB Dont’a Hightower, DE Whitney Mercilus (No. 26), LB Nick Perry (No. 27) and Smith at No. 29.