The 2019 NFL Draft kicks off in exactly three weeks, meaning draft buzz in full swing as the offseason spectacle inches closer.
A pair of the most well-known draft experts around the league — Todd McShay and Mel Kiper, Jr., of ESPN — recently went head-to-head in a two-round mock draft with their own projections of where players will land.
Kiper and McShay didn’t agree on either of Minnesota’s first two picks with the 18th overall selection or at No. 50, but they did have the same mind frame when acting as Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman.
McShay had the Vikings taking Boston College guard Chris Lindstrom is the first round.
I would have liked a defensive tackle here to replace Sheldon Richardson, but Ed Oliver and Christian Wilkins are off the board. The Vikes added Josh Kline but still need help protecting the quarterback.
Kiper went with Alabama offensive lineman Jonah Williams in the first round, as the All-American is projected to be able to play either guard or tackle in the pros.
It doesn't matter if Williams ends up at guard or tackle — he'd help Minnesota at either spot.
As for the second round, both Kiper and McShay added a defensive piece for Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer.
Kiper went with Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery.
After undergoing shoulder surgery last month to fix a torn labrum that bothered him in 2018, Tillery could drop to the end of Round 2. He'd be a solid fit in a loaded Minnesota front seven.
McShay, meanwhile, added Clemson cornerback Trayvon Mullen to an already talented Vikings secondary.
Mike Zimmer loves to mold his defensive backs into impact players. And with Xavier Rhodes entering his age-29 season, Trae Waynes hitting free agency in 2020 and the uncertainty of how Mike Hughes will return from a torn ACL, cornerback is a bigger need than immediately meets the eye.
The Vikings currently have eight selections in the 2019 draft, which is scheduled to begin with the first round on April 25 in Nashville. The second and third rounds are on Friday, April 26, and the draft concludes with the final four rounds on Saturday, April 27.
Jeremiah releases new pre-draft rankings
And speaking of the draft, NFL Media Analyst Daniel Jeremiah recently released the newest edition of his top 50 players.
The list, which is the fourth installment this offseason for Jeremiah, is the latest pecking order of how the former NFL scout ranks the top tier of players who will be drafted later this month.
In a write up of his latest rankings, Jeremiah noted two players who are on the rise in his eyes.
In terms of risers, Ed Oliver rides a highly impressive pro day into the top five. Some people doubt the Houston product's size or sack totals, but his absurd athleticism and elite quickness are impossible to deny. And my top interior offensive lineman, Garrett Bradbury, cracks the top 20. The N.C. State center has knocked the pre-draft process out of the park, checking his last box with an outstanding pro day.
Jeremiah had Oliver as his No. 4 overall player, and Bradbury came in at the 18th spot.
Both Oliver and Bradbury have been linked to Vikings in various mock drafts over the past few weeks.
Jeremiah’s big board of 50 players is evenly split between offense and defense with 25 players on each side of the ball, but it’s clear he believes defensive line is the strength of this draft class.
Jeremiah has 14 defensive linemen or edge rushers on his board, including Ohio State’s Nick Bosa at the top spot. Six of Jeremiah’s top 10 players play on the defensive line and/or rush the quarterback.
He has nine offensive linemen listed — the second-highest number of players in a position group behind defensive line — with Washington State offensive tackle Andre Dillard being the highest-rated lineman at the 13th spot.