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5 Takeaways: ESPN's Mel Kiper Talks Late Rounders & Risers Before 2020 NFL Draft

There is always plenty of hype surrounding the first night of the draft, where the biggest names are usually picked among the first 32 selections.

But teams can really impact their roster in the following rounds as they look to add even more depth and talent to their organization.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr., has stated that he believes offensive tackle is a need for the Vikings in the 2020 NFL Draft, although not necessarily in the first round.

Kiper held a conference call with national reporters Wednesday and laid out some offensive tackles to watch that may not go in the first round, including one with a Minnesota connection.

"There are still really good prospects … and there are guys on Day 3 that have a legitimate shot," Kiper said. "I think Ben Bartch of St. John's is going to be a third-round pick, but he's a guy I've liked all along.

"Cameron Clark of Charlotte held his own against bigger competition. I think he's a guy on Day 2 or Day 3 who has a chance to make a football team and be better than advertised," Kiper added. "Matt Peart from Connecticut with his length and athleticism … he's a developmental tackle and needs a little time, but he has chance. Later in the rounds, Alex Taylor of South Carolina State could be a nice developmental player as well."

Kiper believes that the tackles such as Alabama's Jedrick Wills, Jr., Iowa's Tristan Wirfs, Mekhi Becton of Louisville and Andrew Thomas from Georgia will be surefire first rounders.

The draft will be held remotely from April 23-25 without public events.

Here are four other takeaways from Kiper's conference call:

1. An early impact?

The 2020 wide receiver class is widely looked at as one of the deepest and most talented position groups of any this year.

Kiper was asked about the difficulty of wide receivers making an early impact, and noted that sometimes it's the lesser-known players who thrive early on.

"The slot guys tend to transfer pretty quick. I think you'll see someone like a Devin Duvernay from Texas transition very quickly, or someone like K.J. Hill from Ohio State," Kiper said. "The outside guys with the route tree and teaching routes and learning to be precise with your routes and timing with the quarterback … coming out of college, that's the tough part.

"The slot guys — look at Hunter Renfroe, he had a nice rookie season with the Raiders — those are the guys you're looking for to have an immediate contribution," Kiper added. "Lynn Bowden, Jr. … he'll be a slot guy coming out of Kentucky. That's the difference for me if you look at expectations as a rookie."

Multiple draft experts had the Vikings taking a first-round wide receiver in Version 7.0 of our Vikings Mock Draft Tracker.

2. Gallimore could be strong value pick

Draft history is full of players who were Day 2 selections and made an impact. In Minnesota, just look at the play of second-round linebacker Eric Kendricks and third-round defensive end Danielle Hunter, both of whom were selected in 2015.

Kiper was asked about a handful of Oklahoma defensive players and singled out defensive tackle Neville Gallimore as a guy who can turn some heads, despite the likelihood that he won't be picked in the first round.

"Gallimore, as a 3-technique, he has the speed and quickness to be effective over the center," Kiper said. "He can wear a lot of hats for you, Gallimore can, because he has a lot of talent, is powerful, tested extremely well, is an athlete and can run like no other.

"If you can get him in the third round, with his versatility and how he gets into the backfield, he would be a really good third-round pick for somebody," Kiper added.

Gallimore recorded 30 tackles (18 solo) with 4.0 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles in 14 games in 2019. He earned Second-Team All-Big 12 honors.

3. A trio of risers

With a little over a week to go until the draft, it's a waiting game for draft prospects.

Kiper mentioned a few players that could hear their name sooner rather than later next week and included three players who have been linked to Minnesota in recent mock drafts.

"Guys moving up … CJ Henderson of Florida will get moved up because he's the [second-ranked] corner," Kiper said. "Justin Jefferson is moving up, wide receiver from LSU. I keep hearing Austin Jackson more in the late first than I did a couple weeks ago.

"Also moving up, Jalen Reagor, wide receiver from TCU … he's moving up," Kiper added.

Jefferson, Jackson and Reagor have all been projected to the Vikings in recent mock drafts.

4. Checking in on Hall

Early 2020 mock drafts linked Bryce Hall to the Vikings in the first few two rounds, but that was before the Virginia cornerback missed a portion of the 2019 season with injuries.

Kiper said he still believes Hall is among a talented crop of cornerbacks, but said he will likely have to wait a bit now to have his name called.

"Two years ago, you saw a guy who could be a first-round pick," Kiper said. "I think if you get into Day 2 or early Day 3, he could still be on the board.

"He has some physicality to his game … he's over 6-foot-1 and can match up against bigger receivers," Kiper said. "He showed he was healthy and could cover two years ago … to me, he was a second-round pick prior to that. Some had him as a first, I had him as a second. If you looking in the third or fourth round now, I think Bryce Hall makes a lot of sense."

Hall, who played in six games before having ankle surgery in 2019, did not participate in on-field workouts at the combine.

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