NFL Draft best available players for Minnesota Vikings: Andrew Booth, Boye Mafe

NFL Draft best available players for Minnesota Vikings: Andrew Booth, Boye Mafe

After drafting a safety in the first round, the Vikings have essentially kept the same need profile heading into Day 2. There are a number of talented cornerbacks the Vikings could select to complement the Lewis Cine pick at the end of Round 1. With a pick in the second round and another two in the third, they have a bevy of options available to them.

After poring over Dane Brugler’s Top 300 board and the Consensus Big Board to see which available players might best fit the Vikings, we can construct a Day 2 big board for the team. Because they could use those third-round picks to move up into the second or trade down from 34 — something they signaled they were open to — we’ll combine the lists for Rounds 2 and 3.

NFL Draft 2022 tracker: Live blog and pick-by-pick analysis
Draft grades: Sheil Kapadia weighs in on the picks
Big board best available: Who’s left from Dane Brugler’s Top 300?

Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson

The top player left on the consensus board, the big question surrounding Booth is whether or not his medicals will check out. If the Vikings are OK with that risk, it means they’ll take a chance on an athlete with remarkable ball skills, excellent recovery ability and fluidity throughout the coverage process. He still has some seasoning do to as a technician, but he is a very talented player on the field.

Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington

It’s difficult to overstate the quality of the athletic testing Gordon put together outside of the 40-yard dash. With a 39.5-inch vertical, 10’8″ broad jump, 3.96-second short shuttle and 6.67-second three-cone, Gordon put up some of the best numbers we’ve seen at cornerback. His flexibility, agility, acceleration and explosion all show up on film. He could play inside or outside and doesn’t have any size concerns, either. He needs seasoning at the position, however, and his instincts are lacking. Spending time on the bench while the Vikings field Peterson, Chandon Sullivan and Cameron Dantzler would be best for him, but his upside is through the roof.

Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn

Another short-armed corner who might be off some team boards because of his length, McCreary could benefit from the possibility that the staffs that employed Troy Hill, Kareem Jackson, De’Vante Bausby, Bryce Callahan and Darious Williams to play defensive back don’t have a strict arm-length threshold. He’s an aggressive corner who hunts picks and often succeeds, playing in man and zone coverage with some success but primarily living in press. His on-ball production has been remarkable and he more than fits the athletic threshold at the position.

Boye Mafe, Edge, Minnesota

Mafe is one of the most athletic players in this year’s draft and for position-specific athleticism only places behind Travon Walker and potential late-round gem Amaré Barno. It’s difficult to find anyone over 250 pounds who can hit 41.5 inches in the vertical or 10’5” in the broad jump. The three-cone (7.24 seconds) wasn’t bad for his size, either. On the field, that has translated to impressive get-off on the line of scrimmage and power at the point of contact. Unlike most power rushers, he does have bend, footwork and agility, so there are a lot of tools to work with. Unfortunately, he hasn’t put those tools together and will need some refinement before he can be effective in the NFL.

Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

If the Vikings really wanted to shake things up, they could go after a developmental quarterback who has all the upside in the world but needs to sit on the bench for a year or two. Willis is a great athlete with a strong arm and good instincts, but he needs time in a more complex offense and has to trust his eyes more when pulling the trigger on throws. His accuracy isn’t up there with other quarterbacks in the draft, but he has remarkable moments as a deep passer that make him a dynamic option down the road.

George Pickens, WR, Georgia

There probably isn’t a meaner or more physical receiver in the draft, and it should be fun to pair someone who relishes this much contact with the offensive mind that found a way to use Cooper Kupp’s love of blocking. Pickens is big, fast and agile with great hands and ball-tracking skills and also happened to set a number of freshman receiving records at Georgia. His injury history is certainly a concern and his love of contact has led to more than a few penalties, but the only thing really holding him back from a high-level career is some technical work as a route runner.

Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

It has been difficult to use analyst rankings to predict where quarterbacks ultimately will land, as they tend to go much higher than draft experts rank them. Kenny Pickett, for example, is ranked 36th on the consensus big board and will almost certainly go much higher. But failing a Pickett or Malik Willis fall, the best chance the Vikings could have at a developmental “steal” at quarterback would be Cincinnati’s Ridder, who led his team’s unlikely run to the College Football Playoff and showcased impressive acumen, arm strength and athleticism at the position. He could be a long-term replacement for Cousins.

Matt Corral, QB, Mississippi

Another fantastic athlete at the position, Corral plays quarterback somewhat like Pickens plays receiver — with a lot of edge and confidence — which can get him in trouble but also draws admiration from teammates and coaches. Corral likes to fit tight windows, make deep throws and talk trash while doing it and has impressive numbers to show for himself. Boosted by an RPO-heavy offense, he still needs to demonstrate better awareness of NFL concepts and anticipation in general and would do well to sit as he learns more complex offenses.

Logan Hall, DT, Houston

The perfect size for a pass-rushing nose/edge rusher hybrid that populates modern 3-4 defenses, Hall demonstrated versatility across the line at Houston and produced everywhere they put him. Long and strong, Hall likes to bully offensive linemen, and the Vikings could use that next to fellow bullies Harrison Phillips and Dalvin Tomlinson. Hall’s ability to play at the nose or on the edge could mean the Vikings use him like they used Sheldon Richardson last year, as a high-quality emergency stopgap at any position along the line. He has flexibility that can be developed, too, and that bend combined with an explosive first step could yield dividends down the road.

Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan

One of the top players on the consensus board remaining, Raimann only drops here because he’s primarily considered a tackle with little chance of kicking inside to play guard. An extremely good athlete who has adapted to playing tackle after playing tight end for two years in college, Raimann has what teams look for in a zone-blocking offensive lineman and the instincts in pass protection to get it right, even if his technique remains a work in progress. He needs to add size and strength, but so did “tackle-only” super-athlete Ezra Cleveland, who is currently slated to play guard for the Vikings.

Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State

Big receivers who put up position-best scores in every testing category are rare, and they tend to be more Julio Jones than Stephen Hill, historically. Watson isn’t nearly as technically developed as Jones was coming out of Alabama, but he has demonstrated his skills on the all-star circuit, including showcasing a wicked release. He’d be a great addition to an offense that could become the identity of the new-look Vikings, even if they have reason to be scared about his bulk and injury history.

David Ojabo, Edge, Michigan

Another instance where a player who would normally go in the first round is facing questions about his injury status, Ojabo was already a developmental high-upside defender who needed to sit a year before sustaining an Achilles injury while training for the draft. An injury like that takes time to heal and carries with it a real possibility of a drop-off in performance, so it’s not going to be a simple decision for any NFL team considering him. The Vikings do have the advantage of having two solutions already in place as starters at the position and can wait on Ojabo to heal. When he does, he’ll provide an immediate pass-rush presence, but he has to work on his run defense and his specific pass-rush plans.

Arnold Ebiketie, Edge, Penn State

Just behind Mafe and just ahead of Karlaftis in terms of athletic testing, Ebiketie has quietly slipped under the radar in this deep edge-defender class. A bit small for the position, Ebiketie makes up for it with remarkable acceleration and top-line speed as well as great bend and overall activity. His frenetic style won’t necessarily translate in the NFL, but that kind of energy is good to have, especially if his power won’t translate. He’s fairly new to the game and will need some seasoning but could be an interesting long-term addition to the line.

Tariq Woolen, CB, Texas-San Antonio

It’s hard to find 6-foot-4 cornerbacks who run a 40 in under 4.30 seconds, so players like Woolen are rare and coveted. He will certainly need technical refinement to be effective in the NFL, but the fact that a player that long and tall not only ran fast but posted good agility scores and excellent explosion scores should entice some team into taking a Day 2 risk on him. Some injuries and average-level production will keep him back, but he is an exciting player to envision working with.

DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M

If the Vikings need a pass-rushing type of defensive tackle who can also play defensive end in a pinch and complement their 3-4 look with some pressure up the middle, they could do a lot worse than Leal, who was very successful at Texas A&M in a four-man role but would thrive in the Vikings’ hybrid 3-4/4-3. He has impressive quickness and acceleration off the snap, though he doesn’t have the power you want at that position. He can bend like a defensive end and he knows how to use his hands but will likely spend his first year as a situational player bulking up so he can better defend the run.

Josh Paschal, DL, Kentucky

Paschal seems like he might be purpose-built for the Fangio/Staley-style defense that Vikings defensive coordinator Ed Donatell runs. While he’s positioned as an edge rusher on most boards, there’s also the possibility he adds a little bit of weight and plays a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker role in the Vikings’ base 3-4 defense, something he did at Kentucky. He’s an excellent run defender with good athletic skills who just needs to be more technical in his approach when impacting the pocket.

Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan

The Vikings saw all the activity with receivers across the NFL. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be bad for the Vikings to address the position with Moore, a quick, undersized receiver who could do some real damage in the slot and offers deep potential to help alter the shape of the defense with both Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson on the field. His size has pushed him down boards, but as part of a complement of receivers, he could be a matchup nightmare.

Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State

The Rams transitioned from a three-receiver offense to a two-tight end offense partway through the McVay era, even if they moved back to that offense by their Super Bowl run. Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell has talked about how that versatility with the Rams was a big asset and that he’ll try to find ways to do something similar in Minnesota. The Vikings don’t have a viable backup tight end to Irv Smith, already an injury concern after missing all of last year. Adding the top tight end in the draft isn’t a bad way to start building a new-look offense.

Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State

Petit-Frere is a good athlete who can play inside or outside and has experience in zone-style offenses. He can pass block fairly well but has issues with power. In the third round, that’s not a bad profile to go after.

Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama

Tolbert opted to stay close to home instead of taking a scholarship offer from a Power 5, so he has a bit of a different pedigree when compared to most Group of 5 prospects. He set records at South Alabama and demonstrates excellent technical skills as a receiver along with the agility to make it work. He was a big-play receiver for them but would be an interesting intermediate option in the NFL.

Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati

It took a while for Pierce to come online, but when he did, he had fantastic production and turned into Ridder’s top target. He has good size, speed and explosion as well as an instinct for how to use it and could add the strength and technical ability to be a true X receiver in the NFL.

Sean Rhyan, OG, UCLA

A left tackle in Chip Kelly’s well-known zone system, Rhyan projects to guard in the NFL. He didn’t test extraordinarily well but passes the Vikings’ thresholds for the position and demonstrates good enough athleticism in every area to play in whatever scheme he’s asked to perform in.

Greg Dulcich, TE, UCLA

Some analysts consider Dulcich the top tight end in the draft, so it could be a coup to find him in the third round. A very good athlete for the position, Dulcich is a deep play threat who also happens to be a willing blocker and good intermediate receiver. While his actual blocking needs much more work, he could be a good, versatile complement to Irv Smith.

Dylan Parham, OG, Memphis

The Memphis guard has more than enough athletic ability and showcased it both at the NFL combine and on film. His best traits are his speed and agility, but he also showcases strength and a physical attitude. His size is a big concern and he may be limited to center in the NFL, but he added weight for the workout circuit and tested well.

Of course, the Vikings very well could ignore need once again and draft a linebacker, perhaps someone like Nakobe Dean after his fall out of the first round. Also potentially available will be Chad Muma from Wyoming, Troy Andersen from Montana State and Leo Chenal from Wisconsin. They may also be interested in a nose tackle despite having a few already on the roster, and Travis Jones from Connecticut could be the fit they’re looking for there. Even a nickel corner like Cam Taylor-Britt from Nebraska or Marcus Jones from Houston might fit their needs, especially with Chandon Sullivan on a one-year contract.

(Photo of Andrew Booth courtesy of Clemson athletics)

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