Spielberger analyzed two position groups as a first-round fit, beginning with offensive line.
The new Vikings regime led by General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Head Coach Kevin O’Connell has continued an organizational emphasis on defense thus far in their tenures but may look to pivot to offense to kick off their first draft class. After selecting center Garrett Bradbury in the first round in 2019 — in particular, because of his fit in the outside zone rushing attack that O’Connell is also expected to deploy — Minnesota has been underwhelmed with the return through three seasons.
The Vikings traded for interior offensive lineman Mason Cole before the 2021 campaign, and he filled in admirably at guard and briefly center when Bradbury was benched, playing his way into a three-year, $15.75 million contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Is the fact that a new group of decision-makers is willing to use the No. 12 overall pick on a center after a big miss at the position just a few years ago part of the reason they just got hired?
As for the cornerback spot, Spielberger noted that position group could use some reinforcements. But he also threw a curveball in the mix, too, adding that a wide receiver could potentially be in play with the 12th overall selection.
LSU cornerback Derek Stingley, Jr., battled in practice with Vikings breakout star wide receiver Justin Jefferson not long ago, and he also makes sense at this pick. However, another wideout could give Minnesota the best three receivers in the NFC North, helping seamlessly replace the soon-to-be 32-year-old Adam Thielen in the near future.
The Los Angeles Rams offense under O’Connell lined up in 11 personnel — three wide receiver sets — on 85% of plays in 2021, by far the highest percentage in the NFL. This isn’t specific to Sean McVay, either, as the last time O’Connell was an offensive coordinator with Washington in 2019, his offense lined up in 11 personnel on 70% of snaps, seventh-most in the league.
Are we overlooking Minnesota as the first team to take a wide receiver this year? Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson or USC’s Drake London could be the last piece of a dynamic trio that resembles the likes of Randy Moss, Cris Carter and Jake Reed from the late 1990s.