1. Should the Vikings draft for need or best value with their 2nd round pick (their first overall at #48)?
Kras: I personally think they should draft the best valued player, which will likely be a position of need for the Vikings. It is unfortunate for the Vikes that they don’t have a 1st round pick but there is still value to be had. Both RB and DB are deep in this year’s draft and, if the Vikes have a couple guys they have their eye on, they maybe able to trade back and get one or two of those targeted assets while also adding more pieces in the draft. With OL being so thin this year, I don’t see them targeting them until the later rounds (5-7).The Vikes ultimately need to draft the best player/value available to them. Whoever that player is, he will likely be able to come in and compete for a starting job on a team that is looking to regain some dominance in the NFC North.
Nate Leer: I don’t believe teams are ever well served to reach for players, whether that be taking players earlier based on position or jumping ahead in the draft to grab guys. This situation definitely calls for a take best available, or trade back, strategy. The Vikes glaring need is OL but this draft is not great for high end OL talent. Plus, they could use interior o-linemen which are usually the least valued position players in the draft. I would like to see the Vikes take the best player available at S, LB, TE, CB, DT, WR or DE, in that order, then take G/Cs in the 3rd and 4th rounds. They have 2 picks in each of those rounds so they can take 2 OL as well as a RB, a receiver if needed and another solid D prospect or 2 in the 3rd – 5th rounds in this deep draft.
2. What player at what draft slot would you like to see fall to the Vikings in the middle rounds of the draft?
JJ Bens: The player that I would like to see fall to the Vikings in the middle rounds is DB/LB Jabrill Peppers. If Mike Zimmer is calling the shots and Peppers is available, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is the pick at 48. I think that he is the kind of big, fast athlete that Zimmer loves. The versatility that Peppers would bring this D would open up all sorts of matchups in our favor. Also he is a dynamic special teams player which fills a void left by Cordarrelle Patterson’s departure.
Nate Leer: The player I would most like to see fall to the Vikings is TE Evan Engram in the 3rd round. I would probably take him in the 2nd round but not over Peppers or some other talents that might drop. In the 3rd, Engram would be a steal. The Vikes most accomplished pass catcher is TE Kyle Rudolph but Engram is a very different player. He is a great athlete, versatile and a natural receiver, something Rudolph is not. That said, I don’t expect Engram to be there in the 3rd so another good value would be RB Kareem Hunt in the 4th. I like RB Latavius Murray so am not of the opinion that the Vikes NEED to take a RB early. However, a solid all around RB like Hunt in round 4 would be nice.
3. What grade do you give the Wild for this season?
JJ Bens: The grade that I would give the Wild’s season is a D- borderlining on F area. This team had the expectations of a deep playoff run and anything short of that is a disappointment. The fact that the team won a franchise record number of games keeps the season from being a total failure. As a fan, it is getting really hard to watch this team look like Cup contenders half way through the season, then completely come apart coming down the stretch. I would have to agree with Kras that GM Chuck Fletcher job is in serious jeopardy.
Kras: I would give the Wild a C – on the season. I personally think it is a bit of a harsh grade but the way they ended the season, it was a well deserved grade. The good for this team was the bulk of the regular season in which they piled up the most points and wins in franchise history. The bad was the way they ended the regular season, slipping out of the #1 spot and finishing 2nd in the West behind the rival Blackhawks. And finally the ugly, which was a 1st round series loss to the St. Louis Blues in 5 games. The stellar regular season is nothing to scoff at but the regular season record is not the ultimate goal the club was chasing. For them to come up short in the playoffs like they did is extremely disappointing and if they don’t get serious about getting to the second round or later in the playoffs, the Wild could very will be looking for a new GM. Chuck Fletcher will be on thin ice going into next season, in my opinion, and will likely need to show ownership that they are ready to compete for Cups.
1. Who do you think will be the NFL Drafts #1 overall pick?
Nate Leer: I think elite pass rusher Myles Garrett is the most likely guy to be drafted #1. He is clearly the best player in the draft and plays a position that is a high priority for NFL teams. That said, there is a position that is more coveted by NFL teams and that is QB. Therein lies the possible exception to Garrett going #1 – a team reaching for a QB they like. There is no Andrew Luck or Cam Newton in this QB class but there are plenty of guys who compare favorably, in my eyes, to Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, QBs who went 1, 2 last year. The question is whether the Browns are that team at #1 and, if not, whether any team is willing to pay a king’s ransom to move up to that slot for a QB. I think not but stranger things have happened.
Kras: I would tend to agree with Nate Leer on this, in that Myles Garrett will likely be the guy picked #1 overall. The Browns need a whole lot of help and I believe building on D is the best thing for them. There isn’t a QB in this draft, in my opinion, that has set himself up to be a can’t miss guy and that is what the Browns need to see if they are going to use the #1 overall pick. I think the Browns will go best player available and that will land them Myles Garrett, a promising pass rusher who has all the skill and ability but will then be in Cleveland…
2. Will Joe Mixon be drafted in the first round?
Kras: I don’t think he will. I have been all over the place on Mixon from undrafted to top 15 in the first round but I just don’t see that any more. We all know he is a talented guy who could certainly help many different teams but the PR baggage has taken its toll on him and his draft stock. I think that coupled with the fact that there is a deep RB class in this draft and the RB position as a whole has turned to more of a by committee position, all signs point to Mixon falling out of the 1st round. I think he will be a high to mid 2nd round pick because of the talent that he has.
Nate Leer: I have gone back and forth on this. I thought he would be a first round pick or at least be one of the very first picks in the 2nd round. Now I am leaning towards expecting a mid 2nd round selection. I think the PR hit teams will take is a lot less if he is not their 1st round pick. I thought he might be the first player taken in the 2nd round via a team trading up but that also looks bad – investing extra picks in a guy with a checkered off field history. The kid is talented and I hope he has his head on straight but there are too many other excellent RB prospects in this draft for a team to gamble too early on his issues.
3. What do you expect the other NFC North teams to do with their 1st round picks?
Kras: I believe the Lions will go D with their 1st pick in the draft (#21 overall). Depending who is all on the board for the Lions at 21, I would look for them to look at drafting a LB or DL. Bob Quinn has said that they will draft the “best player available” and with that in mind if there is a top end CB on the board don’t be surprised if the Lions strengthen their secondary. Personally I would love it if DB/LB Jabrill Peppers fell into their lap but I won’t be holding my breathe on that. Players that I could see the Lions taking if available are: DB Jabrill Peppers, DE Taco Charlton, LB T.J. Watt, LB Jarrad Davis, DT Malik McDowell.
Nate Leer: I see the Pack going for a quality RB early or a DB and the Bears are very possible to trade back. If Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey fall to the Pack (or if they want to gamble on Mixon), they should add him. A RB with true 3 down versatility would take that O to a new level. They could then use the rest of their draft to fortify their D and add OL and WR depth. As far as the Bears, trading back makes a ton of sense as they need to fill many holes on a team that is still transitioning. The signing of QB Mike Glennon means they can wait until the 2nd day of the draft (rounds 2 and 3) to add a QB for the future. Meanwhile, the Bears #3 overall pick should have excellent value to teams who want to jump up for a QB, assuming the Browns take Garrett.