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Thursday, April 3, 2014
Analyzing Kiper Grade A draft: Vikings

By Ben Goessling

In his Grade A mock draftInsider, ESPN NFL Draft Insider Mel Kiper Jr. has the Minnesota Vikings ticking through their list of needs with the same efficiency they've displayed this offseason. The Vikings spent most of the free-agency period filling holes on defense, signing former New York Giants defensive tackle Linval Joseph, adding Carolina Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn to help solve their problem at slot cornerback and filling out their defensive line depth with New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Tom Johnson and Chicago Bears defensive end Corey Wootton.

Now, with the help of four picks in the first three rounds, the Vikings have an opportunity to improve their secondary depth and find a backup for Adrian Peterson. According to Kiper, though, they'd find a fit for what might be their biggest need with the eighth overall pick.

He has them selecting Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles with the eighth overall pick -- after two defensive players, two offensive tackles and two receivers allowed the Vikings to make Bortles the second quarterback taken in the draft, after Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel. In the second round, Kiper has the Vikings selecting Utah cornerback Keith McGill with the 40th overall pick before taking Florida cornerback Marcus Roberson and Auburn running back Tre Mason with the 72nd and 96th overall picks, respectively, in the third round.

There's been plenty of buzz about wide receivers such as Clemson's Sammy Watkins and Texas A&M's Mike Evans lately, and the more those players move up the draft board, the more likely it is the Vikings could get one of the top quarterbacks at No. 8. There's a compelling argument to be made that they should take a defensive player in the first round and come back for a quarterback later in the draft -- and it wouldn't be surprising to see them do that if general manager Rick Spielman is worried about missing on a high quarterback pick after taking Christian Ponder 12th overall in 2011. But if Bortles is still there, he might be too tempting to pass up.

If the Vikings are able to get McGill at No. 40, they could have an exciting project on their hands. He is 6-foot-3 and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds and flashed a 39-inch vertical leap at the NFL scouting combine, but the former junior college player's lack of polish could have him still available in the second round. He's got the size to play safety but could also be a good press corner in Mike Zimmer's defense.

Mason would fit in Toby Gerhart's old role as Peterson's backup and pass-blocker, but his shiftiness would give the Vikings a different skill set at the position than they've had recently. And while Roberson's slow 40 times have been a cause for concern, he's got the frame to turn into a physical corner if  Zimmer and defensive backs coach Jerry Gray can teach him to play to his size.