This is your noon-hour warning, draftniks.
Only 450 minutes before all of our NFL mock drafts begin breaking. Probably this one in particular.
Only 450 more minutes that every man, woman and child in America — with access to the internet, of course — can consider himself or herself a true NFL draft expert.
So let’s use this precious time to predict/guess why the Vikings will satisfy the camp that’s arguing for best player available regardless of position and the camp that’s demanding best offensive lineman available, period.
This draft, many of us believe, will be remembered for its extraordinary defensive linemen/edge rushers. With the 18th pick, the Vikings, I believe, sit outside the zone of temptation to take a member of that first wave of elite defenders.
In my mock draft, I have 11 defensive players going in the top 17 picks, including the first six. Of those 11, six are edge rushers — including two potentially embarrassing reaches at 4 and 6 — and three are defensive tackles, including Alabama’s Quinnen Williams going No. 1 overall (famous last words, but, hey, I still have 450 minutes to beat that drum).
Also going in the top 17 of my mock draft are two quarterbacks — including Kyler Murray 13th to the Dolphins (wish me luck there) — one tight end, a cornerback and two offensive linemen — tackle Jawaan Taylor to the Packers and tackle/guard Jonah Williams to the Broncos.
If all of this happens (yeah, right), the best value on the board at the time sure looks to be on the offensive line. So I have them taking Cody Ford, a massive Oklahoma tackle who can slide inside and play left guard. This keeps Riley Reiff at left tackle, where he belongs for now, and makes Ford his eventual heir apparent on the blind side.
Others, including our guy Ben Goessling, have the Vikings taking N.C. State center Garrett Bradbury. That’s another high-value interior O-lineman that sure seems worthy of a spot at the top of the bottom half of the first round.
Of course, there is one prime scenario that could keep the Vikings from selecting an offensive lineman in the first round for a seventh straight year. With a need at defensive tackle, they would be awfully tempted — and probably give in to that temptation — if a potentially great three-technique such as Ed Oliver falls to them.
But, don’t worry, O-line worrywarts. I have Oliver going No. 5 to the Bucs. And until the Vikings choose, I will not be wrong!