Less than two weeks from the NFL Draft, the so-called experts who release numerous mock drafts leading up to the real thing, are still projecting the Vikings to use the 18th overall selection on an offensive lineman.
Namely, ESPN's Todd McShay, who's latest mock projects the Vikings to take Alabama offensive lineman Jonah Williams with the 18th overall picks. McShay's mock, is actually a three-round projection, and he's got the Vikings taking a defensive tackle in round two and a running back in round three.
- Round 1 (18): Jonah Williams, OT/G, Alabama
- Round 2 (50): Gerald Willis III, DT, Miami (Fla.)
- Round 3 (81): David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State
"Free-agent signing Josh Kline helps the Vikings' line, but Williams is the best player on the board at No. 18, and he'd further improve a line that has struggled the past two years," says McShay.
"Willis is a fierce interior presence on the other side of the ball and could fill Sheldon Richardson's spot. Montgomery would serve as a third-down back with some burst and route-running ability to spell Dalvin Cook."
In an interview with Vikings.com last week, McShay noted that offensive line depth in the draft is very good this year, especially on the interior.
"Plenty of talent should be found in the first few rounds of this draft, across the offensive line but especially the interior," said McShay.
According to Walter Football, Williams, 6-foot-4, 302-pounds, played tackle at Alabama but could easily move inside to guard in the NFL. He's also an interesting projection because he's big enough to play right tackle, which could allow the Vikings to move Brian O'Neill to left tackle and slide Riley Reiff inside to left guard.
“I love his awareness and toughness,” says NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah. “Overall, Williams is an excellent prospect and has a chance to be a Pro Bowl guard early in his career.”
Drafting offensive linemen in the first round might be the boring pick for fans, but the results can be bountiful. Just go back to the Dennis Green-led Vikings teams of the 1990s that featured Todd Steussie at left tackle, Randall McDaniel at left guard, Jeff Christy at center, David Dixon at right guard and Korey Stringer at right tackle.
Three of the five were first-round picks, helping create one of the best offensive lines in Vikings history.
- Steussie: 19th overall (1st round) in 1994
- McDaniel: 19th overall (1st round) in 1988
- Christy: 91st overall (4th round) in 1992
- Dixon: 232nd overall (9th round) in 1992
- Stringer: 24th overall (1st round) in 1995
Minnesota's current projected (our best guess at it) starting offensive line features one former first-round pick.
- Riley Reiff: 23rd overall (1st round) in 2012
- Danny Isidora: 180th overall (5th round) in 2017
- Pat Elflein: 70th overall (3rd round) in 2017
- Josh Kline: undrafted in 2013
- Brian O'Neill: 62nd overall (2nd round) in 2018
Here's the list of picks the Vikings have entering the April 25-27 NFL Draft:
- 1st round (No. 18)
- 2nd round (No. 50)
- 3rd round (No. 81)
- 4th round (No. 114)
- 6th round (No. 178)
- 6th round (No. 209)
- 7th round (No. 247)
- 7th round (No. 250)