The Vikings fill needs in 2020 draft

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Dylan Krenz-Bertrand

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Heading into the 202o NFL season, the Minnesota Vikings were in dire need of talent at multiple positions. After the draft this week, a lot of those issues have been solved.

On the first day of the draft, Minnesota selected WR Justin Jefferson with pick 22 out of LSU and CB Jeff Gladney using pick 31 from TCU. These were the two top needs the Vikings needed to address.

Using the selection they got from the Buffalo Bills from trading Stefon Diggs, they selected his replacement in Justin Jefferson. After leading college football with 111 receptions on the national champion LSU team, Jefferson has the ability to be a huge difference maker in the Minnesota offense.

At 5′ 10″, CB Jeff Gladney is considered undersized by many at his position, but his football IQ and toughness more than make up for it. Compiling 31 tackles, half a sack, an interception, and 14 defended passes last year at TCU, as well as earning an invite to the Senior Bowl and first team all Big-12, Gladney was one of the premier corners in the draft and looks to make an immediate impact on the roster. Most impressively, however, is the fact that Gladney played the entire 2019 season and attended the NFL Combine with a torn meniscus, choosing to delay the surgery until after his drills in Indianapolis.

Ezra Cleveland was the Vikings’ first pick on the second day of the draft. At a freakish 6′ 6″ and 311 pounds, Cleveland has all the measurables that the Vikings have needed for years at the LT position. While most experts think he needs to sit for a year to work on his physicality as a blocker, the Boise State lineman already has the athleticism to be a star at the position, excelling in outside zone runs that the Vikings love to use with Pro-Bowler Dalvin Cook at running back.

Dipping back into the pool of cornerbacks, Cameron Dantzler out of Mississippi State looks to be another great weapon on defense for Mike Zimmer. One of the only corners to give the aforementioned LSU team difficulty this past season, simply refusing to back down against the juggernaut team. He will look to compete for a starting role this year with the team.

DJ Wonnum, the defensive end out of South Carolina, was the first of the Vikings’ three fourth round picks. Wonnum was a captain at South Carolina for two years and has drawn many comparisons to Danielle Hunter, the current star of the Vikings pass rush.

With their next pick, the Vikings decided to take James Lynch, the all time sack leader from Baylor. Lynch needs some time to perfect his technique, but has absolutely no lack of effort and can cause massive disruption in the pocket for opposing quarterbacks.

Using their final fourth round selection, the Vikings took Troy Dye from Oregon. Dye led Oregon in tackles all four years he played there, and was used in college similarly to Anthony Barr, the star LB on the Vikings. Falling farther down the board than most thought, the Vikings got a steal with this pick.

Beginning the fifth round, the Vikings again draft a cornerback with pick 169 in Harrison Hand out of Temple. With this selection, the Vikings have fully replenished their CB room after losing Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Mackenzie Alexander to free agency prior to the draft.

Their next selection was WR KJ Osborn out of Miami. While he will likely be used as a return man, he does provide valuable depth at the receiver position sorely needed after offseason departures Stefon Diggs and Laquon Treadwell. He will also likely take return duties away from cornerback Mike Hughes, who will need to be used more as a result of Minnesota’s personnel turnover on defense.

Starting the sixth round, the Vikings took Blake Brandel, the tackle from Oregon State. Brandel looks to be a developmental piece on the line, something the Vikings have been lacking in recent years. Brandel holds the third longest starting streak in Oregon State history.

With their next pick, the Vikings selected Josh Metellus from Michigan. With a severe lack of depth at the safety position, Metellus is very likely to make the roster and see a decent amount of playing time as a rookie.

To begin their seventh round selections, the Vikings got a high value player in Kenny Willekes from Michigan State. Graded by most as a third or fourth round selection, Minnesota gets a player at the end of the draft that is the school’s leader in tackles for loss. This was graded by most analysts as the Vikings’ best pick of the draft purely for the high value at the spot.

Their next selection was QB Nate Stanley out of Iowa, the Vikings’ first QB taken in the draft since Teddy Bridgewater. Stanley has all the requisite talent at the position, just lacking accuracy. He will compete for a backup role this year on the roster.

With their second to last pick in the draft, Minnesota selected Brian Cole II, the safety from Mississippi State. Cole has lots of versatility, playing safety and linebacker in college and the ability to play cornerback. He also played wide receiver in college for a brief period. He is the second player from Mississippi State taken by the Vikings this draft, along with CB Cameron Dantzler.

With a record setting 15th pick in the draft, the Vikings selected guard Kyle Hinton out of Washburn. He played tackle in college but will need to convert to guard due to his size in the NFL.

With only three selections made to address the decade old need at O-Line, and two of them being late round picks, GM Rick Spielman will likely be criticized for not taking care of this hole. However, he did an excellent job of finding value picks and not giving up any capital to take good players who will contribute to the team.

The new needs at wide receiver and defensive back were addressed early, and the Vikings were able to find incredible value with their picks without moving up the draft board once. They did add some high end talent to the offensive line as well as some developmental pieces to help for the future.

With the sheer amount of talent taken in this draft, the Vikings look to have one of the better draft classes of the year, and hopefully one of the best in recent Vikings memory.