The NFL's speculation season will shift to a period of projections, but not before three entertaining days of selections by 32 NFL teams in the 2016 NFL Draft.
The teams will navigate through seven rounds to select a total of 253 players before calling and recruiting undrafted rookie free agents to increase the roster to 90.
The Vikings enter today's first round with eight scheduled picks, and 71 players on the roster, including 34 that the team has drafted since 2007, which was Rick Spielman's first in Minnesota. The Vikings GM since 2012, Spielman has led the personnel department and worked with Head Coach Mike Zimmer and assistants to be as prepared and informed as possible.
A considerable amount of work goes into the fact finding and evaluation of each prospect.
NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock told Vikings.com in Chicago Wednesday that he's been impressed by seeing the way that Spielman and Zimmer have worked together.
Mayock participated in an annual conference call with reporters last week that covered multiple topics. We'll recap his thoughts on what might happen in the NFC North.
Run on receivers
The only time that the Vikings came up specifically was when Mayock was asked directly about Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman. He responded by saying "Coleman is going to fit right in in that murderer's row of wide receiver needs in the early 20s," Mayock said. "Houston at 22, Minnesota at 23, Cincinnati 24. He'll make sense in there, I believe."
Sure enough, in Mayock's one and only mock draft released Wednesday, Mayock slotted Mississippi receiver Laquan Treadwell to the Vikings, after Coleman to the Texans and before Notre Dame receiver Will Fuller to the Bengals.
Mayock wrote of Treadwell: "His lack of straight-line speed might turn off some, but he has a big body and a unique ability to catch the ball in traffic."
Multiple mock drafts have predicted the Vikings will take a receiver in the first round, but Spielman said that won't necessarily be the case because he feels like the Vikings have kept their options open by making acquisitions in free agency and by returning several young players at the position.
NFC North rivals' possibilities
Mayock fielded questions during the call on what the other three teams in the NFC North might do.
In response to a question regarding if the Bears might look at DeForest Buckner, Sheldon Rankins or someone else to play defensive end in their 3-4, Mayock said:
"Depends how you want to play your defense. If you want to sit there and two gap and not be a penetrating up the field team, then Jarran Reed and A'Shawn Robinson are your guys."
Mayock added he thinks Rankins could be better in a defense "that's slanting and moving and doing some different things" and able to slide from end to defensive tackle in look with four down defensive linemen.
As for what the Lions might do for its offensive line at 16th overall, Mayock said, "I actually think there is going to be a little bit of run of tackles right there where you're talking about." If [Ronnie] Stanley and [Jack] Conklin are off the board, as they probably will be, Taylor [Decker] is actually probably next. I think he's going to go right in that range."
The Packers, meanwhile, are scheduled to pick at the 27th spot. Mayock brought up Reed or Robinson if they were still on the board and Green Bay wants to add to its defensive line, before mentioning inside linebacker Reggie Ragland.
"I think he'd be an intriguing pick because you'd get a heck of a player inside," and enable Clay Matthews to be used more at outside linebacker.
His mock draft picks:
- Chicago: Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III
"Hargreaves is the perfect fit for what the Bears do on defense. The only downside with him is he lacks eye discipline."
- Detroit: Ohio State tackle Taylor Decker
"GM Bob Quinn, in his first draft, stays in the Big Ten and takes the big offensive tackle from Ohio State. Riley Reiff is in the last year of his rookie contract, so the Lions can start Decker on the right side."
27: Green Bay: Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland
"Ragland is an old-school, downhill thumper. The Packers were ranked 21st against the run last year, but more importantly Ragland allows them to get Clay Matthews back outside."