TCU wide receiver Josh Doctson has been a popular first-round pick for the Minnesota Vikings. Both the media and the Vikings fan base see the fit as the Vikings need a No. 1 receiver and Doctson continues to prove he is one of the best in this year’s draft class.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. even had the Vikings taking Doctson in his latest draft, but what if the Vikings don’t select him or don’t have the opportunity to? Doctson had arguably one of the best performances among receivers at the NFL Scouting Combine and if his stock continues to rise, or other players’ fall, there is a possibility that the TCU product gets selected before the Vikings pick at No. 23 overall.
There is also the possibility that the Vikings choose to go in a different direction in the first round, but with the moves they are making in free agency that seems more and more unlikely. But there is always the possibility they draft the player they have rated the highest on their big board and it isn’t Doctson.
If Doctson is off the board by the time the Vikings are on the clock there will likely be a number of receivers still on the board that they can pick from. Corey Coleman from Baylor is a speedy receiver and even though he is a little undersized he has the ability to go up and get the ball at its highest point. Many people have compared him to Steve Smith, who had a great NFL career.
Another receiver known for his speed is Notre Dame’s Will Fuller. He actually had the fastest 40-yard dash time in the combine among receivers, running a 4.32. The biggest knock against him is that he does not have natural hands and had too many drops in his college career.
Another player who might end up being available is Ole Miss receiver Laquon Treadwell. He was considered to be the No. 1 wide receiver in this year’s draft class when the college football season ended, but as Docston’s stock has been climbing, Treadwell’s seems to be falling.
He was always thought of as a big, powerful wide receiver but was only able to do 12 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press at the combine – Doctson, thought of as a smaller receiver, did 14. Treadwell is also thought of as being a little slower and did not run at the combine, so the performance he shows at his pro day is going to be a factor of where he lands.
“From the SEC standpoint, I look at it as everybody from that conference that you thought would go high have pretty much maintained,” Kiper said in a conference call earlier this week. “Treadwell hasn’t run yet; he’ll run at the end of the month to see how he runs there.”
There is also the possibility that the Vikings either address another position in the first round, or decide to trade back in order to gain more picks. If they do that, there should still be plenty of talent in the second round. Even if all the players previously mentioned are off the board.
One player whose stock has really been on the rise since the end of the college football season is Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepard. At 5-10 he is on the smaller size, but both Vikings general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer have said that height isn’t that important to them. Instead, they want to see a player be able to create separation through route running and come down with tightly contested passes. Shepard has shown that he has the ability to do both those things.
“He’s, right now, the fifth highest rated receiver coming out,” Kiper said of Shepard. “He’s got a chance to be an early- to mid-second. He’s kind of nailed the draft process. He’s done everything very well, he’s got all the intangibles in the world, so he’s certainly got an opportunity.”
Another wide receiver whose stock seems to be on the rise, as of late, and should be available in the second round is Clemson’s Charone Peake. At 6-2, 209 pounds, he is more of what a stereotypical No. 1 receiver looks like. His 4.45 40-time was also the sixth fastest among receivers at the combine. However, he has small hands for his size – 9¼ inches – and has had some issues with drops throughout his career.
“I think Charone Peake is a guy you’re not hearing enough about now that will end up being a second-round draft choice,” Kiper said. “He tested well, caught the ball pretty well throughout the year – didn’t drop many. I think Peake is going to end up somewhere in the second round.”
The final wide receiver that Kiper mentioned as having a chance to go in the second round was Rutgers’ Leonte Carroo. He also has decent size and good speed, but the biggest problems for Carroo are concerns about his character and reliability.
He was suspended once for two games because of his role in a simple assault charge involving a domestic dispute. Carroo was suspended another time for missing curfew, but only sat out for the first half of a game. If he is able to overcome these character concerns, though, there is a very good chance he could find plenty of success in the NFL.
“I think Carroo solidified, at worst, a third-round grade and probably a second-round grade,” Kiper explained. “You look at what he was able to do, 4.50 at 211 pounds, 5-11¾. You have to love the way he plays. When he wasn’t there, (Rutgers) was a different team and it was a different offense. He’s the kind of guy, it didn’t matter who was covering him, he got open.”
With the way free agency has gone so far, it seems more and more likely that the Vikings are planning to address their need for a wide receiver in the draft. The only questions become which wide receivers are they the highest on and when do they feel comfortable drafting them.