One week from Thursday, the 2019 NFL Draft will kick off in Nashville, with the Vikings slated to make their first selection at No. 18.
There have been plenty of opinions over the past few months about which players will leave the board first, and NFL Media analyst Gil Brandt recently joined in on the speculation. Brandt on Monday released his top 150 draft prospects, topping the list with Ohio State's Nick Bosa. He wrote:
A three-year player, Bosa had good but not off-the-charts numbers. Thanks to a core muscle injury, he missed most of the 2018 season. A very good competitor – like his father, John, and brother, Joey – Bosa has very strong hands to go with an outstanding work ethic. He will play many years at a very high level and will have double-digit sacks as a rookie.
Interestingly, Brandt's top five players all are defensive linemen. After Bosa, he tabbed Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen, Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver (Prospect Profile scheduled for April 22) and Mississippi State edge rusher Montez Sweat (Prospect Profile scheduled for April 25).
Brandt wrote the following of Sweat, who impressed at the NFL Scouting Combine in February:
Sweat has a very quick first step and collected 22 sacks from 2017 to '18. He needs to get stronger but should play for a long time at a high level in the NFL.
Rounding out Brandt's top 10 were Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, LSU linebacker Devin White, Alabama guard Jonah Williams and Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins.
In some mock drafts, analysts have projected Williams to fall to Minnesota at 18.
Williams is a three-year player who started every game since his true freshman year. He is a tactician who plays the game like Hall of Famer Forrest Gregg and recent Browns stalwart Joe Thomas. He needs to get stronger – and he will. He's a smart player with very good feet and outstanding work habits who can play guard or center. He will play a long time at a high level.
View photos of the Vikings' offense during their offseason workouts at TCO Performance Center.
PFF: Cousins underwent 'red-zone transformation' in 2018
Quarterback Kirk Cousins spoke to media members Tuesday afternoon and was asked about "what went wrong" in his first season with the Vikings.
"I think the big piece of the game, of my game that I looked at, there was a lack of explosive plays," Cousins said. "You can look at any other metric, and they were pretty good."
One such stat that was "pretty good" for Cousins last season was red zone performance.
According to analytics site Pro Football Focus, Saints quarterback Drew Brees was the best red-zone quarterback during the 2018 season, receiving a grade of 87.5 for his work inside the 20-yard line.
And who came in second? Cousins, who received an 82.5 red-zone grade.
PFF's Mark Chichester recently wrote the following of Cousins:
After earning red-zone grades of 61.1, 41.1, and 59.1 in his first three years as the starter in Washington, Cousins underwent somewhat of a red-zone transformation over the course of his first year in Minnesota. Through 16 regular-season games, Cousins notched a 75.0 percent adjusted completion percentage, a 66.7 percent completion percentage, a 114.7 red-zone passer rating, and a 9.7 percent red-zone big-time throw percentage — all career highs — which respectively ranked fourth, third, third and second among qualifying quarterbacks last year. In contrast from years past, Cousins also did a great job of limiting his red-zone turnover-worthy plays, as only 1.4 percent of his red-zone attempts were deemed to be turnover-worthy – the league's fourth-best rate.
Coming in behind Brees and Cousins were Indianapolis' Andrew Luck (79.7), Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes (79.1) and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers (73.1).