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Updated: April 17th, 2014 10:58am
Kiper's latest mock draft has Vikings taking Blake Bortles, linebacker

Kiper's latest mock draft has Vikings taking Blake Bortles, linebacker

by Derek Wetmore
1500ESPN.com
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With the NFL Draft just three weeks away, Mel Kiper has released his latest mock draft.

The concept of mock drafts can be a little silly -- after all, what really has changed since the first versions were released? But speculation will continue to fly all the way up to and through draft night, with teams keeping their true intentions close to the vest.

It's clear the Vikings need a quarterback. But do they need one in the first round?

Kiper's latest prognostication says they'll take UCF quarterback Blake Bortles.

Kiper says Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder will provide a "bridge to Bortles," because he thinks Bortles can benefit from taking a seat on the bench while he develops his ability to make downfield reads.

"I do believe Bortles has a high ceiling because he's a pretty special athlete with some really good instincts for the position; his pocket movement in particular is really impressive. When you consider his development trajectory, there's a lot to be excited about," Kiper wrote.  

He makes it clear he has Teddy Bridgewater rated higher, but thinks the Vikings will take Bortles instead. We don't know that the Vikings will remain in the eighth slot, but if they do, Kiper has Bortles as the second QB off the board.

Johnny Manziel is Kiper's first quarterback off the board, at No. 4 to the Cleveland Browns.

Derek Carr (No. 20, Arizona Cardinals) is the next QB taken in the latest mock, followed by Bridgewater (first pick in the second round to the Houston Texans).

Linebacking help?

Kiper has the Vikings taking linebacker Kyle Van Noy (BYU) at No. 40 overall. Kiper calls him one of his "favorite players in the draft," and labeled him as "instinctive and explosive." He points out that the Vikings probably will look to add a linebacker in the draft.

The unknown

This includes a lot of variables Kiper can't reasonably be expected to project (like trades), but it provides a starting point for the conversation.

Vikings fans, if it shakes out this way, would you be content with the first two rounds? Do you think they should go in a different direction?

Derek Wetmore is the senior editor for 1500ESPN.com. His previous stops include MLB.com and the Minnesota Daily.
Email Derek | @DerekWetmore
In this story: Matt Cassel, Christian Ponder
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