Mock Madness 5.0: Experts Expect Vikings to Bolster O-Line in Upcoming Draft

EAGAN, Minn. — Welcome to draft month.

The 2018 NFL Draft is just over three weeks away.

The annual offseason marquee event will be held  from April 26-28 at AT&T Stadium and will be the first draft to occur in Texas and the first to be hosted by an NFL Stadium.

This is our fifth installment of Mock Madness, a look at who an array of experts forecast the Vikings to take with their first-round pick in 2018.

It is a culmination of a whopping 18 recent predictions, but not necessarily the same ones. Only four of the experts went with a position other than offensive linemen, with a few projecting that the Vikings will add some help to an already strong defense.

After reaching the NFC Championship, Minnesota has the 30th overall pick. The Vikings didn’t have a first-round pick in 2017, but still found exceptional talent with their first two picks (running back Dalvin Cook in the second round and center Pat Elflein in the third round).

We’ll roll out this piece in another two weeks, and will then take a weekly look as the draft draws closer.

Our first Mock Madness can be found here.

Our second Mock Madness can be found here.

Our third Mock Madness can be found here.

Our fourth Mock Madness can be found here.

Here’s a look at our fifth Mock Madness of 2018:

ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr.

March 28, 2018

The predicted pick: James Daniels, G/C, Iowa

*The take: Daniels is my top-ranked center, but in this scenario he'd slot in as an immediate starter at guard for the Vikings, who already have Pat Elflein at center. Daniels is a technically sound player who can get to the second level with ease. After having one of the NFL's worst offensive lines in 2016, Minnesota made some smart moves to upgrade in 2017. And if the Vikings add Daniels, they might have one of the league's best O-lines in 2018.* 

Click here for Kiper’s full mock draft.

The Monday Morning Quarterback’s Albert Breen 

March 21, 2018

The predicted pick: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

*The take: Hurst’s heart condition might cause him to slip a little. But it doesn’t change the kind of player he is — the chaos-causing kind that Mike Zimmer really likes.*

Click here for Breer’s full mock draft.

NFL.com’s Peter Schrager

March 29, 2018

The predicted pick: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

*The take: Vander Esch was the Mountain West Conference's Defensive Player of the Year, and in the nationally televised Las Vegas Bowl, he recorded 12 tackles (3.0 for loss; one sack) and a forced fumble. The Vikings might have the best front seven in football, but with contracts for three key players (Danielle Hunter, Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks) due to expire after the 2018 season, adding some depth at the linebacker position wouldn't be the worst move at 30th overall.* 

Click here for Schrager’s full mock draft.

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein

March 27, 2018

The predicted pick: Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia

*The take: Wynn is an outstanding pass protector with guard and tackle experience. He's a solid run blocker, too, and would be a smart choice here.*

Click here for Zierlein’s full mock draft.

CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco

March 22, 2018

The predicted pick: Mike McGlinchey, T, Notre Dame

*The take: They need to find an upgrade at right tackle if Mike Remmers is going to stay at guard. McClinchey could play the right side after being a left tackle in college.*

Click here for Prisco’s full mock draft.

NFL.com’s Charles Davis

March 22, 2018

The predicted pick: Mike McGlinchey, T, Notre Dame

*The take: The Vikings' OL made a huge jump in 2017, and with the addition of prized free-agent QB Kirk Cousins, they cannot afford any slippage. If the Vikes decide to keep converted T Mike Remmers at G, McGlinchey could easily compete to start at right tackle.*

**Click here for Davis’ full mock draft.

1500ESPN’s Matthew Coller (Note: Coller did an extended mock draft and his first three Vikings picks are listed here).

April 2, 2018

The predicted first-round pick: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

*The take: The idea of an athletic freak working with D-line coach Andre Patterson is always attractive to the Vikings. By adding Bryan, they have a player who could become a star but doesn’t have the pressure of playing every down of his rookie year.*

The predicted second-round pick: Braden Smith, G, Auburn

The take: The risk of passing on Daniels and [Billy] Price in the first round put us in a position to pick a prospect in the second round who has some warts. Still, this year’s class was good enough to land a player who can step in as a starter. If a similar scenario plays out, we could see the Vikings trade up in the second to get a better prospect. 

The predicted third-round pick: Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

*The take: Past the first two rounds, the Vikings should be looking to add a playmaker. Miller appears to be the type who does not have a super high ceiling, but will have a good chance to become a solid player.*

Click here for Coller’s full mock draft.

Pro Football Weekly’s Eric Edholm

March 22, 2018

The predicted pick: Connor Williams, T, Texas

*The take: Great value here. Williams could be groomed as the heir at either tackle spot or inside at guard. He’s a gnarly competitor who fits the mold of a Mike Zimmer-coached team and could be a steal coming off an injury-plagued 2017 season. The Vikings know they must protect their biggest investments. That would be Kirk Cousins.*

Click here for Edholm’s full mock draft.

NFL.com’s Charley Casserly 

April 3, 2018

The predicted pick: Connor Williams, T, Texas

*The take: Williams is an upgrade at the right tackle position, which hurt them late last season.*

Click here for Casserly’s full mock draft.

CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso

April 2, 2018

The predicted pick: Connor Williams, T, Texas

*The take: The Vikings have a glaring need on the edge of their offensive line, and although some see Williams as a guard at the next level, he has legitimate pass-blocking skills due to his athletic talents and fundamentally sound hand placement.*

Click here for Trapasso’s full mock draft.

Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo

April 3, 2018

The predicted pick: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

*The take: The Vikings add depth to the defensive backfield with Alexander who is one of the best playmaking corners in the draft. He has the speed and quickness to play on the outside or in the slot, and he’s coming off an outstanding 2016 season (88.3 grade) and a 2017 season that saw him rank second in yards per cover snap (0.26) in an injury-riddled campaign.*

Click here for Palazzolo’s full mock draft.

SB Nation’s Dan Kadar 

March 26, 2018 

The predicted pick: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP

*The take: The Vikings would love to see the Jaguars just ahead of them pass on Hernandez. He’s a mauling guard who will would fit nicely on either side of center Pat Elflein. Hernandez specializes in opening holes in the middle in the run game. Second-year running back Dalvin Cook will love him.* 

Click here for Kadar’s full mock draft.

CBS Sports’ R.J. White

March 29, 2018

TRADE ALERT: White has the Vikings trading up with Seattle to get the No. 18 overall pick.

The predicted pick at No. 18: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP

*The take: The Seahawks have some rebuilding to do, but they have zero picks on Day 2. The Vikings don't have many needs, but one glaring one is guard. They can certainly sacrifice their second-rounder to move up and get one of the top-tier guards behind [Quenton] Nelson, and Hernandez and Isaiah Wynn are unlikely to make it to No. 30 with guard-needy teams like the Cowboys, Lions, Panthers and the Seahawks themselves ahead of Minnesota.*

Click here for White’s full mock draft.

CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson 

March 21, 2018

The predicted pick: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP

*The take: The Vikings need help at tackle but Hernandez is too good to pass up here, and he'll bolster the interior line of a unit that was replacement-level in the running game last season.*

Click here for Wilson’s full mock draft.

The Ringer’s Danny Kelly

April 3, 2018

The predicted pick: Billy Price, G/C, Ohio State

*The take: It’s not easy to find many holes on the talent-rich Vikings roster, but after veteran lineman Joe Berger announced his retirement last month, the interior offensive line moved up toward the top of the list of needs. Price would be a nice fit in Minnesota: He’s versatile, tough, and athletic — and assuming the pectoral injury he suffered at the combine isn’t too serious, he could compete for a starter’s job at either guard spot while providing depth at center behind Pat Elflein.* 

Click here for Kelly’s full mock draft.

Bleacher Report’s Sean Tomlinson

April 3, 2018

The predicted pick: Kolton Miller, T, UCLA

*The take: The Minnesota Vikings offense is about to get a whole lot better, and not just for obvious and very expensive reasons after quarterback Kirk Cousins was their massive free-agency signing.*

Dalvin Cook, the running back who averaged 4.8 yards per carry as a rookie and accumulated 444 yards from scrimmage in four games, should be fully recovered from a torn ACL for Week 1. There's even optimism Cook could be on the field for OTAs later in the spring, which is what Head Coach Mike Zimmer told NFL Network's Tom Pelissero in early March.

The Vikings will want to enhance their offensive line from both a pass- and run-blocking perspective, with the latter even more important when Cook returns. To do that late in the first round, they can put their crosshairs on Kolton Miller, who will be a solid pillar at offensive tackle alongside Riley Reiff. Miller finished his time at UCLA as a steady all-around blocker, receiving an 88.8 pass-blocking grade from PFF and an 81.5 run-blocking grade.

Click here for Tomlinson’s full mock draft.

CBS Sports’ Will Brinson

April 3, 2018 

The predicted pick: Kolton Miller, T, UCLA 

*The take: Protecting Kirk Cousins over the next three years has to be a priority for the Vikings, which could easily equate to drafting offensive-line depth and help early this year.*

Click here for Brinson’s full mock draft.

CBS Sports’ Jared Dubin

March 30, 2018 

The predicted pick: Kolton Miller, T, UCLA

*The take: The Vikes just gave Kirk Cousins a boatload of money. The next step for them is ensuring he stays healthy and well protected so that he can have as much success as possible. Miller dominated athletic testing at the combine and played really well at UCLA, and could be a great find for Minnesota up front.*

Click here for Dubin’s full mock draft.

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