There seems to be a general consensus among league experts about what the Vikings will do with their first-round draft pick – but what about after that?
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay spoke with media members via videoconference Wednesday afternoon and retained his prediction that Minnesota will use the 12th overall pick to select a defensive player. But on Day 2, McShay opined, the Vikings could target wide receiver or offensive line.
McShay highlighted the "depth and competition" at receiver in this year's draft. He added that players "who can create after the catch" will be beneficial in new Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell's system.
Western Michigan's Skyy Moore would "absolutely fit that mold," according to McShay.
"He's great after the catch — just so quick getting off the press and then accelerating and getting up the field after the catch," McShay said.
He also mentioned Alabama's John Metchie III, a "possession receiver with good run-after-catch ability." Third-round receiver prospects that could fit Minnesota's offense included Kentucky's Wan'Dale Robinson, Memphis' Calvin Austin III and Tennessee's Velus Jones.
"And even into the fourth – guys like Khalil Shakir, another slot receiver, really quick, out of Boise State. David Bell from Purdue," McShay said, "he ran poorly in the 40-yard dash at the combine, but he's one of those guys who just knows how to get open. Really good hands. Tough over the middle. And Kyle Philips is another one, from UCLA.
"There are a lot of guys that are in that second-, third-, fourth-round range that can create after the catch and good slot receivers that could wind up contributing right away as a rookie," he added.
As far as offensive line, McShay analyzed the position group as extremely strong at the top with a "definite drop-off" by the third round.
He did name several players, though, he felt could help bolster the Vikings offensive line.
"I think Bernhard Raimann from Central Michigan is going to be a second-rounder. He's a big, strong guy – started out a tight end and moved into tackle, and he's just gotten bigger and bigger and stronger every year," McShay said. "Abraham Lucas from Washington State is a second-round right tackle all day long. Just big, strong, efficient guy. Tyler Smith is a nasty right tackle prospect who also could kick inside to guard. He'll go in the second round out of Tulsa."
And University of Minnesota fans are plenty familiar with Daniel Faalele, a mammoth tackle who stood out for the Gophers.
"Nicholas Petit-Frere from Ohio State is going to be a third-rounder and play tackle or guard. Luke Goedeke … projects more as a guard in the NFL," McShay said.
View photos of potential quarterbacks the Vikings can select in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Here are three other topics McShay covered during the call:
Varying opinions on the quarterbacks
When it comes to the 2022 quarterback class, McShay noted that five players have elevated themselves in the group.
According to McShay, Liberty's Malik Willis, Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett, Mississippi's Matt Corral, Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder and North Carolina's Sam Howell are the five best QBs available this year.
Though the above order is how McShay has them ranked shortly before the NFL Draft, there isn't a consensus around the league on the pecking order among those five players.
"What's wild about this year's class, more so than any previous year I can remember, is the difference of opinion when I get off the phone with one guy in the league versus the next guy," McShay said. "And I'm not talking about scouts; I'm talking general managers, the guys making this decision.
"I had one team say they like Matt Corral as the No. 1 quarterback. Two or three teams say they liked Ridder more," McShay continued. "Some teams said they liked Malik Willis the most, and I've had some teams say that he's the fourth-best quarterback in this class.
"Pickett is usually either 1 or 2; I would say he's the most consistent in terms of being up there at 1 or 2," McShay added. "But there's a lot of varying opinions on these quarterbacks. The only thing that's kind of consistent for everyone, myself included, is that they are more mid-to-late first-round prospects."
McShay also said that he would have all five of these current prospects ranked below the five quarterbacks that went in the first round a year ago, a list that includes Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields and Mac Jones.
'Loaded' Georgia draft class
McShay laughed when asked about Georgia's draft class this year.
"Where do I start with this group? That was the longest individual group I had to do in terms of watching tape," he said.
McShay listed linebackers Nakobe Dean and Quay Walker, defensive tackles Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt, defensive end Travon Walker and safety Lewis Cine as former Bulldogs who especially stand out to him on the defensive side of the ball.
"This group is loaded," McShay said.
He opined that Walker will have the biggest impact on the league long-term, saying the lineman "has his best football still ahead of him," but McShay suggested that Walker should start at defensive tackle in the NFL before later transitioning to the edge.
As for immediate impact as a rookie? McShay is high on Dean, who's been mocked to the Vikings by a couple of experts.
"I just think his football I.Q. is better than any defensive player in this draft," McShay noted.
While scouts have criticized Dean for things like "average arm length, some missed tackles and doesn't have great timed speed," McShay isn't at all concerned.
"I don't care about timed speed if you play fast. He plays fast," he said of Dean. "He's two steps ahead of every other linebacker on that defense, and you've got [Channing] Tindall and Quay Walker, who both could be second-round picks. I think Walker's definitely going to be a second-round pick, probably early, and then Tindall's going to be late second-round, third-round range. And I'm talking two full steps ahead of them – misdirections, play-actions, all that stuff.
"I love his makeup as a football player," McShay added.
The value of running backs and linebackers
McShay said Wednesday that he doesn't expect a running back to go in the first round of the draft.
The draft analyst said the value of off-ball linebackers, or those that don't always rush the passer, has also decreased a bit in recent seasons.
"It's tough with off-the-ball linebackers because there's so much focus on getting to the quarterback and then being able to cover these great wide receivers that seem to be flowing in," McShay said. "I still see a lot of value in it, but it's not quite as valuable as finding a corner or edge rusher in the middle of the round.
"Ironically, I would argue, and we've talked so much about edge rushers and wide receivers in this year's class, but this off-the-ball linebacker class is unusually loaded," McShay added.
McShay said his top two prospects at that position, Georgia's Dean and Utah's Devin Lloyd, will likely be available in the middle of the first round.
Some second- or third-round possibilities at that position could be Alabama's Christian Harris, Wisconsin's Leo Chenal, Wyoming's Chad Muma, Montana State's Troy Andersen and Oklahoma's Brian Asamoah.
McShay called Harris a "heat-seeking missile in the run game" and noted that Chenal likely would have been a first-round pick a decade ago, but the game and positional value has changed over time.
Vikings.com took a look at linebackers with help of analyst and former linebacker and coach Pete Bercich on Wednesday. Click here to read what Bercich had to say.