One doesn’t need to channel his or her inner Kiper to realize defensive line is the strength of this year’s first round. Here’s a look at the top positions and individuals who should be taken Thursday night:
Quinnen Williams, Alabama
Could be the best player in the draft. Watching him at Alabama, it’s hard to picture him not being an NFL wrecking ball.
Ed Oliver, Houston
The Vikings would bite if this guy were to fall to 18. A disruptive, quick-step guy with the proverbial motor to wreak havoc in a Mike Zimmer defense.
Christian Wilkins, Clemson
Another good three-technique fit for the now-Sheldon Richardson-less Vikings.
Jeffrey Simmons, Mississippi State
Tore his ACL in February, so a we-gotta-win-now team like the Vikings wouldn’t touch him at 18. But someone gets a top-15 talent who’ll be ready in 2020.
Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
Someone will be getting a potential All-Pro nose tackle somewhere in the second half of the first round or top of the second.
Nick Bosa, Ohio State
Hats off to Mr. and Mrs. Bosa. They appear to be cloning elite NFL edge rushers. Might be the best player in the draft.
Josh Allen, Kentucky
Pay attention, kids. This guy probably went from Day 3 to Top 5 by staying in school and developing.
Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
Even we combine cynics have our heads turned by a 6-5, 260-pounder running the 40-yard dash in 4.41. The heart condition obviously is a concern.
Rashan Gary, Michigan
Not the most productive or durable edge rusher out there, but physical gifts make him an NFL team’s dream.
Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
A productive edge rusher who might be on the board to further tantalize a Vikings team who loves it some D-linemen.
Brian Burns, Florida State
Could be an outside linebacker. Has the frame to add a lot more bulk and power.
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
Size no longer eliminates a dude who can play at this level. A year after Baker Mayfield went No. 1, an even shorter Sooner may go No. 1.
Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
Say hello to Eli Manning’s heir apparent?
Drew Lock, Missouri
Will the classic-sized QB with the strongest arm make it past Kirk Cousins’ old team at 15?
T.J. Hockenson, Iowa
Holy Gronk! Two tight ends could go in the top half of the draft! And both are Hawkeyes.
Noah Fant, Iowa
Of the two, Fant appears to be the one Iowan who could go in the bottom half of the first round. Green Bay, perhaps?
D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss
Again, even we critics of the Indianapolis Underwear Games (see Williamson, Troy) have a hard time dismissing a 6-3, 228-pound receiver moving at a 4.33 clip.
Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
He also can fly. And has the skills. But at 5-9, 166, can he go ahead of Metcalf?
Jawaan Taylor, Florida
The Vikes sure could use the best O-lineman in the draft. But Taylor should be long gone by 18.
Jonah Williams, Alabama
The Vikes sure could use the second-best O-lineman in the draft. Many project Williams to Minnesota. But will the Vikings pull the trigger?
Devin White, LSU
It takes a special, modern-day inside linebacker to go in the top 5. White appears to be one of them.
Devin Bush, Michigan
A similar player, Bush isn’t too far behind. He could be off the board in the top 10-11 picks.
Greedy Williams, LSU
It doesn’t appear to be a strong year for corners at the top of the draft. Williams is a big, smooth press corner.
Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State
Former Cowboys executive and 2019 Pro Football Hall of Famer Gil Brandt says this might be the best overall class of safeties he’s ever seen. Abram, an intimidating strong safety with elite speed, should be a first-rounder.
Josh Jacobs, Alabama
Let’s go old-school and throw in a power running back with versatility and the ability to pass protect. And he comes from Alabama with low mileage.