#NFLNationMock: Dennard to Vikings at 9

May, 6, 2014
May 6
2:25
PM ET
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- With the No. 8 pick in the NFL Nation mock draft Tuesday afternoon, I faced a dilemma the Minnesota Vikings could encounter Thursday night: Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles was there, but the Houston Texans were offering two picks essentially to ask me not to take him. I could have any other player I wanted in the draft, and get the first picks in the fifth and sixth rounds as a finder's fee.

So I made the trade to drop back one spot, picked up the 141st and 177th choices in the draft and took Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard.

First, a comment on the trade: Our charge as reporters for this thing was to act like we think our teams would, not necessarily how we would behave if we were running things. In other words, my job was to occupy the mind of Rick Spielman for a day -- insert your own joke here (you too, Rick, if you're reading this). In a perfect world, I think the Vikings would love to trade down, perhaps even further than I did, but I also don't know if it will be the Texans, and not the Bills. sitting there Thursday night. That said, when there are so many quarterbacks available -- and so many varying opinions on which one will turn out best -- I decided to fill an obvious need on defense, just as I believe the Vikings will do.

Now, why Dennard? The Vikings gave up more points than any team in the league last year, and a shoddy secondary was the biggest culprit. I tried to move back again from No. 9, but when those options (with the Giants at No. 12 and the Rams at No. 13) dried up, I took Dennard over Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald. As enticing as Donald was, cornerback seemed like a bigger need in a division with the passing offenses the Vikings face on a regular basis, and the biggest takeaway from last season, on the defensive side of the ball, might have been how important it is to have depth at cornerback. Dennard and Xavier Rhodes give the Vikings two young, physical corners to play press coverage in Mike Zimmer's defense, with Captain Munnerlyn in the slot.

And now I've got two extra picks to facilitate another Spielman specialty: a move back into the first round. Will that happen? Keep checking back for more of our mock draft.

Ben Goessling

ESPN Minnesota Vikings reporter

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