The Vikings, attempting to regroup after a disappointing 8-8 season in 2016, attacked a couple of their most pressing needs in free agency and said goodbye to franchise icon Adrian Peterson along with several other free agents. They have since turned their attention to the 2017 NFL draft, where General Manager Rick Spielman and Co. need to deliver a strong, impactful class to get this once-promising squad heading back in the right direction. In our ultimate Vikings draft preview, we look at the positions the Vikings must solidify with their eight selections -- none in the first round -- and make our best guesses at how they'll do it.
The Vikings used free agency to do something about their most glaring need, shelling out nearly $100 million in contracts to offensive tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers, and they signed running back Latavius Murray to help replace Adrian Peterson. Those moves mean they won't have to reach early in the draft to fill holes on their depth chart for 2017. But they still have needs to address for this season and for the future.
Offensive tackle (OT): Even after signing stopgaps Reiff and Remmers, offensive tackle remains the team's most pressing long-term need. The Vikings must draft and develop a keeper.
Guard (G): The Vikings have a couple of capable options in Jeremiah Sirles and Joe Berger to play right guard in 2017. But they need long-term reinforcements at guard, too.
Wide receiver (WR): The Vikings are thin at wideout after letting Cordarrelle Patterson and Charles Johnson walk in free agency. They also may be tempted to take a talented tight end.
Running back (RB): Coach Mike Zimmer remarked this offseason that the Vikings are likely to draft a big-play threat from a deep running back class that General Manager Rick Spielman feels is maybe the best he has seen.
Cornerback (CB) The return of veteran Terence Newman likely gives Zimmer enough depth at this key position. Still, the DB whisperer is always looking to groom potential starters at the position.
Defensive tackle (DT): With Sharrif Floyd's career in jeopardy due to injury and a bunch of other guys also in contract years, Zimmer would like to get his hands on a disruptive defensive tackle.
Linebacker (LB): Since Chad Greenway was only a part-time player in his final two years, finding a replacement is not a pressing concern. But they'll probably draft another linebacker.
Safety (S): Andrew Sendejo was actually pretty solid in 2016 alongside Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith. The backups behind those two, though, did not inspire much confidence.
Vensel's mock draft
Because the Vikings gave up their 2017 first-round pick in the Sam Bradford trade last September, they have been absent from the semi-weekly mock drafts pumped out by all the national draftniks. We are here to pick up the slack, though, with a full seven-round mock draft. Sure, these pick projections are slightly-educated-but-mostly-wild guesses, but this exercise will give you an idea of how the Vikings might attack this year's draft.
Vikings' eight picks
1 Round 2, No. 48
2 Round 3, No. 79
3 Round 3, No. 86
5 Round 4, No. 129
6 Round 5, No. 160
7 Round 6, No. 199
FIRST PICK: RD 2, #48
Instead of reaching for the top offensive tackle left in a poor class for that position, the Vikings grab one of the top guards in Feeney, who is a smart, tough and athletic blocker.
Alvin Kamara • RB, Tennessee
This is not too early for Vikings to grab a back like Kamara or Oklahoma's Joe Mixon.
Malik McDowell • DT, Michigan State
He's disruptive in the interior, but questions about his toughness could turn off Zimmer.
SECOND PICK: RD 3, #79
Garcia may need to add size and strength to play at the NFL level, but the Vikings appear to be intrigued, having been one of about a dozen teams to send someone to his pro day.
Samaje Perine • Oklahoma, RB
The Vikings met with Perine, Mixon's bruising backfield buddy, at the scouting combine.
Curtis Samuel • Ohio State, WR
Versatile speedster has drawn comparisons to former Vikings WR Percy Harvin.
THIRD PICK: RD 3, #86
Slippery and surprisingly powerful for a 5-foot-10, 216-pound running back, Hunt has a combination of skills that could help him become a three-down back at the NFL level.
Jourdan Lewis • Michigan, CB
Undersized but feisty, he could duke it out with Mackensie Alexander for the nickel role.
Davon Godchaux • LSU, DT
Another potential replacement for Sharrif Floyd, Godchaux notched 5.5 sacks in 2016.
FOURTH PICK: RD 4, #121
Kansas State, OLB
Long and rangy, Lee is an athletic linebacker who could potentially excel in coverage if he were to win the competition at Chad Greenway's old weak-side linebacker position.
Jamaal Williams • BYU, RB
Williams is one to watch if the Vikings wait until Day Three to draft a running back.
Jalen Myrick • Minnesota, CB
Myrick might be too short at 5-foot-10 for Zimmer’s liking, but the Vikings know this kid can play.
FIFTH PICK: RD 4, #129
Boston College, S
Some analysts feel Johnson, who made starts at safety and corner at BC, has the ability to line up in centerfield and in the box, making him a possible fit next to Harrison Smith.
Isaac Asiata • Utah, G
The cousin of ex-Vikings running back Matt Asiata can line up at a few different spots.
Dede Westbrook • Oklahoma, WR
Zimmer recently said the Vikings want to add a deep threat. He definitely fits the bill.
SIXTH PICK: RD 5, #160
South Florida, WR
He struggled with drops in college, but his ability to gain yards after the catch could make him a fit in Pat Shurmur's scheme. Plus he was a good returner in college, too.
Zane Gonzalez • Arizona State, K
Kai Forbath is under contract for 2017, but the Vikings have worked out this top kicker.
Jake Butt • Michigan, TE
If Butt, who tore his ACL in January, is available this late, he would be worth stashing.
SEVENTH PICK: RD 6, #199
Having passed on the position early in this mock, the Vikings in the late rounds take a chance on a high-upside three-technique in Walker (or Tulane's Tanzel Smart).
Jerod Evans • Virginia Tech, QB
The Vikings haven't drafted a QB since Teddy Bridgewater in 2014 but could this year.
Will Likely • Maryland, CB
Likely, who is coming off a torn ACL, is arguably the top kickoff returner in this class.
EIGHTH PICK: RD 7, #232
Langley, a small-school standout, is a raw prospect. But his combination of size and athleticism makes him somebody whom Mike Zimmer might be able to mold into a player over time.
Bryan Cox Jr. • Florida, DE
The son of ex-NFL defender Bryan Cox has some tools but inconsistent game tape at Florida.
Worth Gregory • East Carolina, P
The signing of veteran Ryan Quigley doesn’t necessarily mean they are content at punter.