In the lead-up to the 2020 NFL Draft, Vikings.com is taking a position-by-position look at prospects who have garnered a range of attention from national outlets. The series will include rankings by national outlets, stats and background information for multiple prospects. We'll also include comments that experts shared during interviews.
EAGAN, Minn. — The 2020 NFL Draft is just over two weeks away, and the countdown is on to one of the league's most crucial offseason events.
The Vikings currently hold 12 total picks — including the 22nd and 25th overall selections — and are poised to add a handful of young talent to the roster.
NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger believes tackle could be a priority for Minnesota on the first two days of the draft, opining that the Vikings need to keep adding pieces to improve their offensive line.
"I think there's depth in this draft, for sure," Baldinger said. "Whether it's tackle or guard, they've got to get better blockers up front with guys who can move the line of scrimmage.
"Whether it's Brian [O'Neill] or Riley [Reiff], they have to get better. They're going to be a tight end-based team like they were last year. They brought back their fullback. That's what they want to do," Baldinger said. "I think they have two really good backs, and one of them is great. I think [Mattison] is going to be better this year. They want to run the football and pound you, and I think it starts up front."
O'Neill and Reiff each started 15 regular-season games (both were held out in Week 17), and the pair of Vikings playoff games. Minnesota recently re-signed swing tackle Rashod Hill. The Vikings also have Aviante Collins and Oli Udoh on the roster.
Here is a look at tackles who could make sense for Minnesota in the draft.
NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah currently has six tackles in his overall Top 50: 7. Mekhi Becton, 10. Jedrick Wills, Jr., 13. Tristan Wirfs, 17. Andrew Thomas, 28. Austin Jackson and 39. Josh Jones.
ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., has four tackles in his overall Top 25: 7. Becton, 8. Wills, 11. Wirfs and 18. Thomas.
PFF included 10 tackles in its overall Top 100: 8. Thomas, 9. Wills, 13. Wirfs, 16. Jones, 67. Becton, 78. Lucas Niang. 81. Jack Driscoll, 83. Matt Peart, 88. Ezra Cleveland, 90. Trey Adams
Positional rankings by NFL.com's Bucky Brooks, ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., analytics site Pro Football Focus and The Athletic's Dane Brugler impacted the players listed for this series. Rankings by each are noted under each prospect.
Jedrick Wills, Jr.
Rankings: No. 1 by Brooks, Brugler; No. 2 by Kiper and PFF
School: Alabama | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-4 | Wt. 312 pounds
2019 stats: Started all 13 games at right tackle, including a 35-16 win over Michigan in the Citrus Bowl; A First-Team All-SEC selection by coaches and media, Wills was also named a Second-Team All-American by numerous outlets. He was selected as a Third-Team All-American by PFF.
Right-side anchor: According to Alabama stats, Wills allowed only one sack all season and only 3.5 quarterback hurries while missing only seven assignments in 771 snaps in 2019. That gave him a success rate of 99.0 percent. He also helped anchor a Crimson Tide offensive line that ranked third nationally by allowing just a dozen total sacks (.92 sacks per game) on 406 total pass attempts.
Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
Rankings: No. 2 by Brugler and Brooks; No. 3 by PFF and Kiper
School: Iowa | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-5 | Wt. 320 pounds
2019 stats: Started at right tackle in all 13 of Iowa's games, including the Holiday Bowl against Southern California; He was named a First-Team All-American by numerous outlets, and was a First-Team All-Big Ten selection by league coaches and media. Wirfs also earned the Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year award in the Big Ten Conference.
Do-it-all athlete: Wirfs is known for his incredible athleticism, as he had the top 40-yard dash (4.85 seconds), vertical jump (36.5 inches) and broad jump (10 feet-1 inch) among all offensive linemen at the combine. The vertical jump set a new combine record among linemen, while the broad jump tied the top mark. Wirfs was also an accomplished athlete in high school, as he was the Iowa Class 2A Offensive Lineman of the Year and a state wrestling title during his senior year. He was also a two-time state champion in the shot put and discus throw.
Baldy's Breakdown: "The question about him is that he's been a right tackle. Played a little bit of left tackle, but primarily a right tackle. I have Tristan as my third-best offensive tackle behind Becton and Wills. His athletic ability is crazy as we saw from the combine. That shows up on film, too, with his ability to get out on the perimeter and run. His ability to cut off on the back side … there's really nobody else like him out there. The only question about him right now, is that he does get beat inside and he does get overextended. That's a coaching thing. If it persists, is he a better guard than he is a tackle? I know he'll start Day 1 at either one. I don't think you can go wrong with him."
Rankings: No. 1 by Kiper; No. 3 by Brugler; No. 4 by Brooks; No. 5 by PFF
School: Louisville | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-7 | Wt. 364 pounds
2019 stats: Started 11 games for Louisville at left tackle, but chose to sit out the Cardinals bowl game in order to prepare for the combine/draft; He was a First-Team All-ACC selection, and Second-Team All-American honoree by Sports Illustrated.
Swing status: Becton can play tackle on both sides of the offensive line. He started 10 games at right tackle as a true freshman in 2017, before starting 12 games (10 at left tackle and two on the right side) as a sophomore. He transitioned to the left side full-time in 2019 as a junior when he started 11 games and won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, which is given to the ACC's best blocker.
Rankings: No. 1 by PFF; No. 3 by Brooks; No. 4 by Kiper and Brugler
School: Georgia | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-5 | Wt. 315 pounds
2019 stats: Started at left tackle in all 13 of Georgia's games. Was a First-Team All-SEC selection, and First-Team All-American honoree by Walter Camp. Team captains and co-winner of Vince Dooley Offensive MVP. Thomas also won the SEC's Jacobs Blocking Trophy, becoming the school's first winner in 21 years.
All the accolades: Thomas started 15 games at right tackle and earned Freshman All-American honors. He then garnered Second-Team All-American honors from the Associated Press due to his stellar play in 13 starts at left tackle as a sophomore in 2018. Thomas then capped off his college career with First-Team All-America honors as a junior to earn an All-American distinction in each of his three seasons with the Bulldogs.
Rankings: No. 4 by PFF and Kiper; No. 5 by Brugler
School: Houston | Year: Redshirt Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-5 | Wt. 319 pounds
2019 stats: Started nine games at left tackle but missed three games due to a knee injury; Jones was named a Second-Team All-AAC selection, and earned First Team All-American honors from Pro Football Focus.
Solid Senior: According to Houston program stats, Jones allowed just four total pressures in 325 pass-blocking snaps in 2019. He recovered from his injury and participated in Reese's Senior Bowl practices and the game.
Baldy's Breakdown: "I think he's a possibility at the bottom of the first round. What [Offensive Coordinator Gary] Kubiak wants, and he's always kind of coveted, are athletic linemen. I think Jones certainly can do that. Nobody plays that type of scheme in college, but you look for a guy that can move. I think Jones has that ability just going off his combine numbers. He's certainly in that category right now."
Rankings: No. 5 by Brooks; No. 7 by Brugler; No. 7 by Kiper
School: Southern California | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-5 | Wt. 322 pounds
2019 stats: Started at left tackle in all 13 of the Trojans games; Jackson earned First-Team All-PAC 12 honors.
Family first: Jackson donated bone marrow to his younger sister, Autumn, in the summer of 2019 before playing his entire junior season. His grandfather, Melvin, was a 12th-round pick of the Packers in 1976. He spent five seasons as a right guard in Green Bay, playing in 64 career games with 34 starts.
Baldy's Breakdown: "I watched him in the Holiday Bowl when he went up against a real good player in A.J. Epenesa from Iowa. You look at him, and he has a good anchor. He gets over-extended a little bit, but I think he's got a really good set. He started 25 straight games for USC and has been their left tackle … I think he has the requisite size and everything you need at that position. There's a lot to work with. To me, he looks like a left tackle. He's got a good anchor and that's the first thing you look at. Can he hold up at that point against power rushers? He ran just over a 5.0 flat 40, so he has foot-quickness and speed."
Rankings: No. 6 by Kiper; No. 8 by Brugler
School: Boise State | Year: Redshirt Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-6 | Wt. 311 pounds
2019 stats: Started all 13 games at left tackle and was named as a First-Team All-Mountain West selection for the second straight year.
Mattison's mate: Cleveland blocked for Vikings running back Alexander Mattison at Boise State in 2017 and 2018. The tackle helped Mattison rush for 2,501 yards and 29 scores in those two seasons.
Baldy's Breakdown: "He's got great size. He doesn't have the longest arms or the biggest hands, but I think he ran a 4.93 40. When you start running 5-flat or below, it only helps you."
Rankings: No. 7 by Brugler; No. 8 by Kiper; No. 10 by PFF
School: Georgia | Year: Redshirt So. | Ht: 6-foot-6 | Wt. 350 pounds
2019 stats: Started 10 of 11 games, but missed two because of an injury; co-winner of Offensive "Up Front" Award.
Big fan of SpongeBob: Wilson was featured in The New Yorker's '2016 edition of Reasons to Love New York' for being a top college football prospect and wearing a SpongeBob SquarePants backpack around town. Wilson grew up in Brooklyn.
Rankings: No. 9 by PFF
School: TCU | Year: Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-6 | Wt. 365 pounds
2019 stats: Started six games of TCU's first seven games at right tackle but missed the final five games due to injury.
Personal protector: According to TCU stats, Niang did not allow a sack in the 20 combined games he played as a junior and senior. He was a Second-Team All-Big 12 selection for his play as a junior in 2018.
Rankings: No. 9 by Kiper; No. 10 by PFF
School: Connecticut | Year: Redshirt Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-7 | Wt. 318 pounds
2019 stats: Started all 12 games at right tackle for the Huskies and was named First-Team All-AAC selection.
A perfect streak: Peart started all 48 of Connecticut's games in his four-year career with the Huskies. Peart was born in Kingston, Jamaica, which is roughly 20 miles from Danielle Hunter's hometown of St. Catherine. Peart moved to the United States when he was 4 years old.
Rankings: No. 6 by PFF
School: St. John's (MN) | Year: Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-6 | Wt. 309 pounds
2019 stats: Started at left tackle in all 14 of St. John's games; Bartch was a First-Team MIAC selection, and won the Mike Stam Award as the conference's top defensive or offensive lineman. Bartch was also named a First-Team All-American by D3football.com.
Bulking up: Bartch switched from tight end to tackle in the summer of 2018 before his junior season. He bulked up in part due a magic shake that included seven scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, grits, then peanut butter, a banana and Gatorade. Bartch, who was 250 pounds as a tight end, was measured at 309 pounds at the combine.