Following the retirement of Joe Berger, the Minnesota Vikings are in serious need of a right guard or tackle. But in a draft where there are a number of quality interior O-line prospects, Vikings GM Rick Spielman isn’t ready to guarantee that he will select a lineman with the 30th overall pick.
“Everybody in the mock world and the experts out there are saying it’s O-line, O-line, O-line, but when you look at your roster, you have to look at where are the other holes that you’re going to have to fill,” Spielman said in his pre-draft press conference on Tuesday.
Depending on which analysts you read, there are quality prospects like Arkansas center Frank Ragnow, Ohio State’s Billy Price and Auburn’s Braden Smith who could be available in the second round. That could allow the Vikings the option of taking the best player on the board with No. 30.
“I’m looking at the 2019 roster as well, guys who are not under contract, what if there is a significant player who is there at 30 that could potentially fill a need – who may have a role this year but fill a need in the future,” Spielman said. “You have to weigh in what your needs are this year, but we are in a position at 30 where everyone thinks we are locked in on an offensive lineman, that’s absolutely not the case. The way our draft board has developed, we have five different positions that we can go any directions.”
Presumably cornerback, defensive tackle and tight end are within those positions of need outside of an interior lineman. The Vikings only have three corners with NFL experience on the roster, they also lack depth at DT and new OC John DeFilippo could be interested in adding another tight end to fit his offensive scheme. Wide receiver and safety are likely in the mix as well.
Another option on the table for the Vikings could be trading down. If the Vikings feel they can land a top prospect in the middle of the second round, dropping back would probably allow them to recoup their missing fourth-round pick.
Spielman explained his philosophy on draft-day trades:
“I’ve had four calls over the last two days,” he said. “Where we’re picking, you don’t know. I wish I could say, ‘Yeah, we’d love to trade out,’ but I don’t want to trade out if there’s a player that falls to us. An example like Dalvin Cook last year. Then we went and traded up. Our philosophy – last year we traded up twice and down seven times – it’s not planned. It’s more reactive to what’s happening and how the names are falling off the board and what the depth is at that particular position.”
The depth of this year’s guard class opens the door for a move out of the first round.
“If it’s a deep class at a particular position in one of the areas that we want to trade to address and we can move down and still get that player, sure, why wouldn’t you do that? Because then you get the benefit of having another draft pick and another potential player to your roster.”
Spielman noted that the positional flexibility of Mike Remmers gives them even more options in the draft, but did not commit to Remmers playing tackle or guard going forward. It appears that decision will be made after the draft and potentially as camp goes along.