Wide Left: What the Vikings need to figure out during the NFL Draft

Blair Anderson takes a look at the Vikings' situation in his latest Wide Left blog.
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Mike Zimmer

Throughout everything going on in the world today, we can at least say that we have reached the NFL Draft. 

Draft day is that magical time of year where hope springs eternal and if our favorite team doesn't select the sixth-round sleeper that we've been watching YouTube videos since March until our eyes bleed, the upcoming season is already lost.

The NFL Draft is a three-day marathon and the Vikings have plenty of questions to answer. The "marathon not sprint" mentality should serve the Vikings well, as Rick Spielman's roster looks a lot like the ugly pieces of foam that Packer fans get drunk and throw on their heads every Sunday.

Because of that, there are plenty of questions that Spielman, Mike Zimmer and the Vikings brain trust need to answer before the draft concludes on Saturday night.

How is this virtual draft going to go?

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL has decided to conduct the draft in a fully virtual experience. What that means is that a bunch of 50 or 60-somethings are about to step in front of a webcam for the first time and try to make their selections that determine if they get fired or not.

In other words, this should be riveting television.

The NFL tried a mock draft earlier this week and had a technical issue on the very first pick. Others noted that there were moments where nobody had the mute button on and GMs were screaming over each other like me in the fourth quarter of a Vikings game after I've been drinking since 7 a.m.

People have gotten so worried over this that the Detroit Lions are going to have their IT guy go full Cousin Eddie by living in a Winnebago in front of General Manager Bob Quinn's house for three days in case he doesn't know the difference between Zoom and Snapchat.

Now, the NFL could have just done the easy thing by calling ESPN to set up a draft room like they do for BILLIONS of fantasy football mock drafts, but that's not sophisticated enough for the NFL.

This makes the Vikings quest to put together a solid draft all the more intriguing. Although Spielman had a six-monitor draft board installed in his home to help out (and my fantasy team is jealous of this), it would be so Vikings to have it suddenly short out because some dude named Boris is in Moscow trying to burn the whole thing to the ground.

Will "Trader Rick" live up to his name?

As we've mentioned before on this blog, Spielman is just like you and I. The only difference is that he puts them on over his shoes and then once they're on, he makes big deals during the draft.

In the first round, however, we haven't seen too much from Spielman lately. It's been seven years since Spielman pulled off a first-round trade during the draft (We won't count the Sam Bradford panic trade) and that was when he traded four picks to get All-Decade kick returner, Cordarrelle Patterson.

Hopefully, any deal that Spielman makes will turn out better than that one. But the issue here is that the Vikings might not be interested in trading up. ESPN's Courtney Cronin suggested that he might be interested in adding more picks.

That being said, the Vikings already have 12 picks in what is expected to be a very deep class. With the Vikings having plenty of needs, it wouldn't be stupid to line yourself up to make as many shots as possible.

Who will the Vikings take at receiver?

The idea to trade away Stefon Diggs is a solid one at heart. The Vikings had pissed Diggs off to the point he wanted to get the hell out of Minnesota. Plus, they got a ton of picks in return for him. That doesn't always happen (ask Bill O'Brien), so there's credit due there.

But by trading Diggs, they also took away nearly one-third of Kirk Cousins' production last season. For a team that has screamed continuity to the point of hiring their own kids in crucial positions on the coaching staff, this doesn't seem to make sense...so they have to have a plan.

The good news is that this receiver class is being lauded as one of the deepest in recent memory. Jerry Jeudy has Michael Jackson Thriller moves. Henry Ruggs "has a rocket up his butt." Cee Dee Lamb eviscerated the entire state of Texas last October. These receivers are good.

But there's talk that this class is so good, the Vikings are going to wait to take one and fill their other needs. So again...who the hell are they going to take?

The Athletic's Chad Graff had an idea that the Vikings would wait until Friday to take a wide receiver. In addition, he also felt like Minnesota would get one out of the group of LSU's Justin Jefferson, Arizona State's Brandon Aiyuk, TCU's Jalen Reagor, Colorado's Laviska Shenault, or USC's Michael Pittman Jr.

There's also the chance the Vikings double up in case they draft Treadwell 2.0 out of the group and are stuck in the same damn situation for the third straight year.

Who is going to play corner?

On the other side of the ball, the Vikings experienced a mass exodus in the cornerback room. Pro Bowl cornerback Xavier Rhodes was cut and Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander decided to go to Cincinnati, leaving the Vikings with Mike Hughes, Holton Hill, and Kris Boyd.

There is a chance that we'll see a better version of Hughes when he's not trying to rush back from a multi-ligament knee injury, but this group still needs a lot of help.

Ohio State's Jeffrey Okudah and Florida's C.J. Henderson will likely be off the board if the Vikings stay at No. 22, but that's where things get interesting. The Vikings have talked with Kristian Fulton and they've been linked with TCU's Jeff Gladney in just about every mock draft.

Then there's the chance that they could have the awkward reunion with the Diggs family by taking Alabama's Trevon Diggs in the second round. (Would you like to be a fly on the wall in that conversation?)

But throwing family grudges aside, the Vikings need to find someone even if Fulton was nearly suspended at LSU for swapping urine bags during a drug test or Utah's Jaylen Johnson missed the Vikings' preferred three-cone time of seven seconds by one-hundredth of a second. 

With the added need for an immediate contribution, the Vikings will need this someone to skip Zimmer's "How I Made Deion Sanders Good 101" course and play right away.

CAN WE PLEASE FIX THE OFFENSIVE LINE?

I swear we've had this conversation for a decade. Every year, the Vikings need someone to step in and give this unit a set of cahones, and instead, we try to pluck some guy from a D-III school in the sixth or seventh round because they looked like they had a trait.

This year, this needs to end and Spielman needs to plant his flag on a mountain of meat to anchor his offensive line.

This class has plenty of options to do that as it features a bunch of big guys who can move down the field. The top four of Louisville's Mekhi Becton, Georgia's Andrew Thomas, Alabama's Jedrick Wills Jr., and Iowa's Tristan Wirfs would be great but might require a trade up.

Even then, the Vikings could go with Boise State riser Ezra Cleveland or USC's Austin Jackson to help add some youth to the offensive line and potentially move Riley Reiff to inside or onto the free-agent market.

Then there's the wild card of Trent Williams, who has been in a pissing contest with the Redskins because he wants to be traded. With the relationship so bad, Williams claimed that the Washington doctors ignored a cancerous growth on his skull. He's going to be moved somewhere, but at what cost?

The Vikings have been linked, but it would also involve moving Anthony Harris to free up the roughly $20 million an extension would take. Mix in draft compensation and it would be great, but maybe not feasible.

But if there's one thing that Spielman should do, it's fix the offensive line because I am sick of talking about it. Perhaps drafting a quarterback with a better pocket presence might be a good idea, too. But since we're locked in, just fix the line and everything might be OK.

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