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NFL Draft Preview: Minnesota Vikings needs and projected picks

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Team Needs: OL, DT, RB

Projected Top Three Picks:

Second Round– Joe Mixon, RB Oklahoma

Third Round– Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson, Duke Riley, LB LSU

After the Sam Bradford trade, this Vikings team is without a first round pick in 2017. For a team that needs a lot of help on the offensive side of the ball, missing out on first round talent is a huge miss. However, Minnesota could potentially cash in big time in the second round with the selection of the widely-discussed Joe Mixon. Sure, he comes out of college with a big red flag, but you can’t ignore the talent at a position of need. Mixon could very well be the second-best running back in this draft, and getting him in the second round could be a major steal.

Mixon, an all-purpose, three-down back, should fill the void left by Adrian Peterson perfectly. He can run between the tackles with power, but he can also get to the edge and get away from defenders with speed in the secondary. Needless to say, he has it all. Add in his potential as a pass-catcher, and you have a player who could sneak into the upper echelon of Fantasy running backs in his first season. That’s a major "if," though. The biggest downside to his value will be the subpar offensive line of the Vikings. This unit will potentially hinder the Mixon’s production. You can’t expect an Ezekiel Elliott-type of year from Mixon, especially when Peterson only averaged 1.9 yards per carry behind the line in 2016.

Even with the addition of Latavius Murray, I still project the Mixon pick. Murray is not the player that Mixon could be as he is more of a complementary type of back. Murray’s skills lend themselves primarily to running in open space, which is something that he will not find behind this offensive line. Sure, he had a big year in terms of touchdowns in 2016 (12 rushing scores), but if he scores half as many times in 2017, I would be utterly shocked.

Expect to see this team employ a one-two punch with their rushing attack during the early part of the season, with Mixon taking control of the job as the season progresses. If Minnesota improves even slightly on the offensive line, I would support drafting Mixon as a late RB2, but odds are you should be able to get him as a RB3. His first season could produce 1,400 total yards, and around 10 touchdowns.

Murray’s draft stock hinges on whether or not the team makes the Mixon pick. If they pass on Mixon, Murray should be drafted as a RB3 based on the offensive line restrictions, but there will be owners to jump on him at a RB2 price. Don’t be that guy in your draft.

NFL Draft Preview: Minnesota Vikings needs and projected picks

It appears as though this offense will again be quarterbacked by Bradford in 2017, which means don’t expect a lot out of the receiving corps this season. Bradford was the spitting image of Captain Checkdown last season, as most of his attempts came within the five yards of the line of scrimmage. At that point, you are expecting your receivers to do an awful lot of after-the-catch work, and with this group, not a lot of tackles were broken, which limited their overall production. Adam Thielen was a big surprise for owners down the stretch into the Fantasy playoffs, as he became a multi-catch guy with a number of TDs coming during final stretch of the Fantasy season.

The de facto No. 1 receiver, Stefon Diggs, found himself catching a lot of passes in this offense, but he wasn’t finding the end zone. With nothing changing in this offensive scheme, expect similar production from both receivers in 2017. Both players could be looking at WR3 production, with Diggs have a higher ceiling between the two. If he ups the touchdown production, he could find himself as a WR2. Disappointing Laquon Treadwell has to find a spot on the field in his second year. If not, he will quickly find himself tagged with the proverbial "bust" label.

Team Ranks:

Passing Offense– 239.8 YPG (18th)

Running Offense– 75.3 YPG (32nd)

Points Per Game– 20.4 PPG (23rd)

Top Fantasy Performers:

QB– Sam Bradford, 210 points

RB– Jerick McKinnon, 95 points

WR– Adam Thielen, 120 points

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