NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock agrees with the prevailing predraft sentiment: If the Minnesota Vikings keep the No. 3 draft pick next Thursday, USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil "is the choice."
The Vikings have been trying to advance the notion they are also considering LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne or even Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon after the Indianapolis Colts start the draft by taking Stanford QB Andrew Luck and the Washington Redskins follow with the selection of Baylor QB Robert Griffin III. Mayock sounded confident that Kalil is the likely choice and that Claiborne might be the only other consideration.
"I don't think they'll take a receiver at three. I think Kalil is the choice, and if he's not it's got to be Claiborne. I think they're the two that make the most sense to me at three," Mayock said on a conference call Thursday. "If we assume that they take Kalil, then when you roll around in the second round at wide receiver."
The Vikings have numerous needs as they undertake a roster rebuilding project, but cornerback and wide receiver are also considered pressing issues. Fortunately for them, it's also considered a relatively deep draft for both of those positions and they might be able to find starting quality there in the second through fourth rounds.
"I think there are four first-round wide receivers in this draft. It's Blackmon, (Michael) Floyd, (Kendall) Wright and Stephen Hill. Hill is a little bit of a wild card. If he was available early two, you would have to look strongly at him. However, he's really raw," Mayock said of the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Georgia Tech receiver. "He's a developmental project, but, boy, is he gifted and athletic."
Hill impressed scouts at the combine by running a 4.36-second 40-yard dash.
But even if those four receivers are all selected by the time the Vikings pick again at No. 35 overall, there are other starting options.
"I think the next two that you're looking at are Rueben Randle from LSU and Alshon Jeffery from South Carolina," Mayock said. "They offer different things. Randle is a vertical threat that flies and Alshon Jeffery is not as fast. I worry about what his weight is going to be, but he can throw it outside the numbers, jump ball, red zone. He's a gifted kid that doesn't run very fast."
Randle has the speed – the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder ran a 4.55 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine – but he was more inconsistent catching the ball. Jeffery is the same height as Randle, but the concern with him is his weight. He was believed to have ballooned beyond 230 pounds in January, but when he showed up for the combine in late February he weighed in at 216 pounds.
As for fallback options at tackle for the Vikings if they don't select Kalil in the first round, there may not be another option in this draft for a starting left tackle. Mayock classified Iowa's Riley Reiff as a right tackle and listed Stanford's Jonathan Martin and Ohio State's Mike Adams among his first-round boom-or-bust prospects. The analyst said Reiff's value is somewhere around picks 15 to 25 and called him "a starting right tackle."
That's not the case with Kalil. Mayock said he "can't" fall out of the top 10 overall.
"That's not happening," Mayock said. "It all depends on what else happens, but I don't think there's any way in the world he gets past seven because, even if (QB Ryan) Tannehill goes, (Kalil) is one of the ‘six blue-chippers.'"
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Mayock believes Kalil is Vikings' choice
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