EAGAN, Minn. — Todd McShay released the third edition of his mock draft on Wednesday morning, and the NFL draft analyst for ESPN had the Vikings taking Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver with the 18th overall pick in the first round.
In his write-up on the Oliver selection, McShay said the Vikings would be getting a steal of a talent in the latter half of the first round.
Value, value, value. Oliver is one of the top 10 players in the class. So although offensive line is a more glaring immediate need here, the Vikings could plug Oliver into the middle of that defensive line between Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter and create headaches for offensive coordinators. He's a perfect replacement for free agent Sheldon Richardson.
Later Wednesday, McShay held an hour-long conference call with members of the national media. Vikings.com was on the call and asked McShay to expand on why he mocked Oliver to Minnesota.
McShay rattled off a lengthy 400-plus word answer, with the main point being that the Vikings would be getting exceptional value if Oliver was available at No. 18.
"18, to me, is a value pick for the Vikings there, or any team in that range," McShay said. "You get a player who has, potentially, top-10 ability, and he'd fall because of some of his question marks and just because of how deep this class is.
"I think the Vikings, or any team in that range, will be happy to get an Ed Oliver close to 20 in this year's class," McShay added.
Oliver, who measured in at 6-foot-2 and 287 pounds last week at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine, was a consensus First-Team All-American after his junior season at Houston. Oliver had 54 total tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and a trio of sacks in eight games.
McShay dove into Oliver's skill set and said the defensive tackle's quickness reminds him of a current NFL player who is one of the league's best players.
"What I see from him as a player, is a guy who is exceptionally quick and who has a lot of shock in his hands … he's powerful and very tough to block 1-on-1, you have to double team him a lot," McShay said. "As a run defender, he's outstanding as a one-gap guy … but as a pass rusher, he has to develop. He's still raw in terms on how he uses his hands and finishing … working the edges of an offensive lineman … he has to improve in that area.
"[Rams defensive tackle] Aaron Donald was the comparison a lot early on … the tape I studied, and I went back and studied Donald at Pitt … [Donald] is far more advanced and a much better finisher as a pass rusher," McShay added. "That's the area he has to improve."
McShay also noted that while Oliver had a good week in Indianapolis at the Combine, he's interested to see how the Texas native performs at his Pro Day on March 28.
Because Oliver did not participate in on-field agility drills at the Combine, McShay said teams will be watching how he performs in the 40-yard dash and various shuttle drills.
"All the talk was with his size, and what he was going to weigh-in as and is he heavier and is he going to move well? I thought he answered some of those questions because he's not 6-1 or shorter … he's 6-2 and 287 pounds," McShay said. "He does have shorter arms … just under 32 inches … but you look at what he was able to do. The 32 [reps] on the bench press, 36-inch vertical jump … which is very good … 10-foot broad jump, which is very good. He did those things.
"What I'm interested to see in Houston [at his Pro Day], does he get back down to 275 [pounds] in order to run? He is going to move around, or did he choose not to run because he wants to keep working on it and run at his Pro Day?" McShay added. "We'll see with the agility stuff, but obviously by not running a 40 and the 3-cone and the shuttles … I'm not saying he's hiding anything, but that's the one thing he didn't answer. 'OK, he can bulk up, now can he keep the weight on and run?' "
Here are four other topics McShay addressed in his ESPN conference call:
1. Alabama's Jonah Williams
Much like NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah, McShay was asked whether or not he sees Jonah Williams as a tackle or guard in the NFL.
McShay said Williams, who played both left and right tackle in three years for the Crimson Tide, could excel at either spot, although he sees him primarily as a tackle.
McShay also noted that Williams, a First-Team All-American in 2019, is one of the more complete offensive linemen in this draft class.
"He's consistent, he's patient in pass protection … he doesn't have the long arms, obviously, but he plays with good balance," McShay said. "He's a natural bender, and it's a guy that's lunging a lot or getting off balance.
"He went up against [Clemson defensive end] Clelin Ferrell and he had the one play where he was off balance and got pushed back, but for the most part I thought he won that 1-on-1 and did a really good job," McShay added. "And he comes in with starting experience on both sides, which is important as well because not all guys can play both sides. Some guys are just more comfortable in their sets kicking back with their left foot as opposed to their right foot. That he can play both sides is a positive."
Williams was projected to the Vikings on numerous occasions in the latest Mock Madness.
2. Garrett Bradbury on the rise
North Carolina State's Garrett Bradbury was also linked to the Vikings in the Mock Madness above.
McShay also raved about Bradbury, who played center and guard for the Wolfpack. McShay believes the lineman is an immediate starter in the NFL and mocked him to the Titans with the 19th overall pick.
"Bradbury, to me, is clearly the best interior offensive lineman in this class. You look at it, and I think if you can get a player of his quality there and know that you have a plug-and-play starter for the next eight, nine, 10 years … you have to feel pretty good about it."
3. Plenty of O-line depth
If the Vikings do go McShay's route and pick a defensive player early, they could choose to beef up the offensive line later in the draft.
McShay on Wednesday offered up a handful of offensive linemen who could make an impact if they are selected in the second through fourth rounds.
McShay addressed potential options at tackle first.
"I think Kaleb McGary on Day 2 is a good player coming out of Washington," McShay said. "Greg Little has excellent athleticism. … Is he going to be able to maximize his potential? That's the big question. He is not to this point and has to get stronger and more aggressive, more physical."
McShay was more expansive on the interior linemen, saying that there could be numerous solid options on Day 2.
"Guard, to me, is a little bit deeper. It's a really good class, and I think you can … in the second, third, fourth round … go get some good players," McShay said. "I saw Chris Lindstrom from Boston College have a great overall combine. He's been a very productive, steady player for [Boston College].
"Dru Samia and Ben Powers, both from Oklahoma, I think are Day 2 picks and quality players, tough guys. Connor McGovern from Penn State has talent as a third-rounder," McShay added. "Beau Benzschawel from Wisconsin is another one. Nate Davis from Charlotte is a small-school guy that has a lot of ability. There's good depth in this year's offensive line class when you get into that second-, third-, fourth-round range."
4. Day 2 linebacker options
Some mock drafts have projected the Vikings to select a linebacker in the middle rounds of the upcoming draft, which will take place from April 25-27 in Nashville.
McShay said Devin White from LSU and Michigan's Devin Bush are in a class by themselves at that position, there are some Day 2 options that could help a team on the defensive side of the ball.
"There are good players … Mack Wilson from Alabama is an option," McShay said. "Tre Lamar from Clemson is a good player who is still developing but he's got size and straight line speed.
"Drue Tranquill from Notre Dame is probably more in the third, fourth round range. There's some depth behind them," McShay added. "Ben Burr-Kirven is a good Day 3 option as well. But those two guys [White and Bush] are special and different from the rest of the group."
Miller Lite Vikings Draft Party Scheduled
The Miller Lite Vikings Draft Party is scheduled from 6 to 11 p.m. on April 25 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Tickets for the event will go on sale March 18. The event will coincide with the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft and feature live coverage of the draft by "Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen and KFAN. Tickets will be available next month.
The Miller Lite Vikings Draft Party is your chance to celebrate the newest Viking from the field of U.S. Bank Stadium.