With just over two weeks until the 2022 NFL Draft, mock drafts are all over the place. This one, from ESPN’s Jordan Reidis particularly notable for a few reasons.
For starters, it’s a full seven-round mock. And Reid, in addition to being one of the best draft analysts in the country, is very familiar with the Vikings, considering he grew up a fan of the team and got his start in the media world as a Vikings blogger.
Let’s dive right in. Reid has the Vikings going with a popular pick in the first round, then continuing to shore up the defense on Day 2 and taking some interesting fliers on Day 3.
rd. 1, Pick 12: LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr.
The Vikings still need a corner, even after bringing back Patrick Peterson. Plus, there are already a lot of LSU connections on the roster. Along with Peterson, the Vikings recently hired Darone Jones, the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach for the Tigers a season ago.
Ability isn’t the question with Stingley — it’s availability. He has missed 13 games over the past two seasons after a standout freshman season in 2019. Minnesota could bet on the traits to overcome the durability concerns and select Stingley here, which is where I see the floor of his draft range.
As Reid explains, this pick makes a ton of sense for the Vikings given their need at the position and their LSU connections. Stingley has a crazy ceiling because of his talent and physical traits, but the injury concerns are there. After a strong performance at LSU’s pro day, will he make it to 12?
rd. 2, Pick 46: Baylor S Jalen Pitre
Pitre is a do-it-all chess piece in the secondary. I projected Derek Stingley Jr. to Minnesota in Round 1, and he and Pitre could help replenish this defense. Pitre is a playmaker with great size and speed.
I like this pick a lot, too. Pitre is a versatile, athletic weapon who can play safety, linebacker, or nickel. He stuffed the stat sheet about the past two seasons, racking up 31 TFLs, 5.5 sacks, 4 FFs, 13 PBUs, and 4 INTs. Pitre is physical, competitive, and has great instincts. He’s not an elite coverage guy, but he has a chance to be really good in the NFL if a team uses him properly. Ed Donatell and the Vikings could find a role for Pitre right away.
rd. 3, Pick 77: Kentucky EDGE Josh Pachal
Paschal’s versatility as a base end in a 3-4 defense makes him an ideal prospect in Minnesota’s new scheme. His lower-half strength, hand maturity and penetrating ability could make him an early contributor in Ed Donatell’s defense.
After two straight picks go to the secondary, Reid gives the Vikings another young talent for their defensive line with Paschal. He was a second-team All-American after a 15.5-TFL, 5.5-sack season in 2021. Paschal is a strong, explosive athlete who is stout against the run and has some upside as a pass-rusher. He’s not the most flexible, bendy guy off the edge, but he’s very technically sound at the point of attack.
rd. 5, Pick 156: Texas Tech C Dawson Deaton
The Vikings love their athletic offensive linemen, and Deathon is exactly that. He would give the Vikings some additional depth on the interior and a potential, albeit unlikely, option to take over for Garrett Bradbury in 2023.
rd. 6, Pick 184: SMU WR Danny Gray
This would be a fun one. The Vikings recently hosted Gray on a pre-draft visit, so it might be a realistic fit. He’s an electrifying playmaker with the ball in his hands who can accelerate with the best of them. Gray has had some issues with drops and needs to develop more as a route-runner, but his 4.33 speed is an undeniable force.
rd. 6, Pick 191: Nevada TE Cole Turner
Turner is a 6’6″ tight end who racked up 19 touchdown catches and nearly 1,300 yards over the past two seasons. He’s apparently limited as a blocker but has some upside as a receiver, which makes him feel a bit redundant to 2021 Vikings draft pick Zach Davidson to me. The Vikings could use another depth tight end to join Irv Smith Jr., Johnny Mundt, Ben Ellefson, and Davidson.
rd. 6, Pick 192: Arizona State CB Jack Jones
For a team in search of help at nickel corner, Jones is a perfect match for the Vikings. He’s an aggressive tackler who has polished technique in the slot. He had three picks and three forced fumbles last season.
Reid called this his favorite player-team fit in the sixth round of his mock, and I like it too. Jones is another player who has visited the Vikings. The 5’11” corner put up huge numbers in college, with 10 INTs, 25 total PBUs, and 5 FFs across three seasons in the Pac 12. However, he has significant character concerns.
rd. 7, Pick 250: Jackson State EDGE James Houston IV
Why not take a flier on a guy who had 16.5 sacks last season? I don’t care that it was in the FCS, that’s a ton of production. He’s not the most agile athlete, but Houston’s length, power, and motor give him a bit of upside.
All in all, I like this seven-round mock quite a bit. It gives the Vikings three potential immediate contributors on defense, starts Day 3 by adding to the team’s depth on offense, and ends with a couple highly-productive defensive guys who have a theoretical path to making an NFL impact.
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The key pick is obviously Stingley, who I think is too talented for the Vikings to pass on if he’s available at 12. His true freshman season in 2019 was that good. But Pitre and Paschal would also add a lot to this defense, both in 2022 and in the future. The Day 3 pick I like the most is Gray, who is simply a ton of fun because of what he can do with the ball in his hands.
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