The Minnesota Vikings traded down in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday before finally selecting safety Lewis Cine with the final pick (while also moving up in the second round and adding a third-round pick in the process).
While those first-round selections in the NFL draft get the big attention, it’s the later rounds where general managers earn their money and the good teams find starters.
Minnesota still has holes to fill and owns the second pick in both the second (No. 32 overall) and third rounds (No. 34) as well as their own third-round selection (No. 77). There’s plenty of interesting candidates still on the board which might interest the Vikings in what was thought to be a deep draft.
Here are a number of players who are available and expected to be drafted on Day 2 which might be a fit for the Vikings (listed in alphabetical order):
Nik Bonitto, Edge, Oklahoma: A 3-4 linebacker with great production with the Sooners. Bonitto had 3.5 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss and six passes defensed as a redshirt freshman in 2019. He broke out the next year and was tabbed a second-team All-American after recording eight sacks, 10.5 sacks and 2 PD. Last season he had seven sacks and 15 TFL.
Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson: Projected by many to be a first-round pick. Read more in-depth about Booth in our draft profile.
Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati: First, yes, he was named after the former NBA superstar. Not as heralded as his cornerback-mate, Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Bryant is a good cover corner in his own right. He had 24 passes defensed and seven interceptions over the past two seasons. He ran 4.54 seconds in the 40 at the NFL combine but improved to 4.47 at his Pro Day.
Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia: Not the biggest linebacker (5-foot-11) but incredibly instinctual and athletic. He has experience in a 3-4 and can be a three-down linebacker, proficient both against the run and pass. As a unanimous All-American in 2021, Dean was a captain of that strong Bulldogs defense, finishing with 72 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, six sacks eight passes defensed, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.
Arnold Ebiketie, Edge, Penn State: A transfer from Temple, Ebiketie earned second-team All-American honors in his lone season with the Nittany Lions. He recorded 9.5 sacks, 17 tackles for los and two forced fumbled in 2021. In 2020 with the Owls, he had four sacks and 8.5 TFL in just six games. Ebiketie played in a 4-3 defense so there’s some projection here and the coaching staff would have to think he could be just as effective in a 3-4.
Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington: Led the Huskies – which included first-round pick Trent McDuffie – in passes broken up (8) and interceptions (2). Played both outside and in the slot. Ran just 4.52 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.
Christian Harris, LB, Alabama: Harris started as a freshman with the Crimson Tide, which perhaps speaks loudly about his talent level. In three years he had 221 tackles, 10 sacks, 27 tackles for loss and seven passes defensed. Last season he posted 79 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks, three PD and two forced fumbles. Harris ran a 4.47 in the 40 at the NFL combine.
Cam Jurgens, C, Nebraska: Garrett Bradbury is on the final year of his deal and hasn’t lived up to his first-round billing. Jurgens should do well in a zone-based blocking scheme – and guess which team used zone blocking often the past few years? The Los Angeles Rams, where Kevin O’Connell last coached. As a former tight end, he’s a little more athletic than most centers. A three-year starter and the first freshman at Nebraska to start at that position.
Luke Goedeke, G, Central Michigan: You can’t question his passion – Goedeke began as a tight end at Division III UW-Stevens Point and became first-team All-MAC as a senior in 2021. He played right tackle as a senior but is projected to play inside in the pros. Has high upside.
Logan Hall, DE/DT, Houston: Minnesota is moving to a 3-4 defense and Hall would be a great fit as an end in that scheme. He had a breakout year as a senior, earning first-team All-AAC honors. Hall posted 6.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss, 13 quarterback hits and 12 QB hurries.
Marcus Jones, CB, Houston: There might not be a more exciting player in the draft. However, due to his size (5-foot-8, 174 pounds), Jones is strictly a slot corner. He did produce some big numbers in 2021, though: 48 tackles, 18 passes defensed and five interceptions. Jones allowed just a 41% completion percentage last season and 32% in 2020. Jones also brings to the table excellent return ability. In 2021, he had four return touchdowns, two on kicks and two on punts. He averaged 34 yards on 15 kick returns and 14.4 yards on 26 punt returns. He had nine total special teams TDs in his four years (the first two spent at Troy). Oh, he also rushed 10 times for 109 yards with a TD in 2021.
Darian Kinnard, G, Kentucky: Kinnard was a right tackle in college but projected by most to play guard in the NFL. A consensus All-American in 2021, Kinnard needs work in pass protection but has been described as a mauler in the run game.
Charlie Kolar, TE, Iowa State: Could eventually fit into the role Tyler Conklin was supposed to fill – occasional blocker who can catch passes, too. Kolar had over 2,000 yards receiving over the last three years. In 2021 he set Iowa State records by a tight end in receptions (62) and yards (756) while posting six touchdowns – one fewer than he had in both 2019 and ’20.
Boye Mafe, Edge, Minnesota: Vikings fans probably know a little bit about the former Gophers player. Mafe led Minnesota in sacks and tackles for loss in each of the last two seasons, with a combined 11.5 sacks and 15.5 TFL in 19 games. He also forced three fumbles and had two passes defensed in that span. Mafe gained some traction after a stellar NFL combine and Pro Day and was thought by some to perhaps be a late first-round possible pick.
Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State: Rated by most as the best tight end in the class. He has good size (6-foot-3, 246 pounds) and speed (4.56 in the 40 at Pro Day) for the position, can block and catch. Last season he had 90 catches for 1,121 yards as he won the John Mackey Award given to the nation’s top tight end.
Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn: Productive three-year starter at Auburn. Led the Tigers in passes defensed (12) in 2019 and interceptions in 2020 (3) and ’21 (2). Led the SEC in passes defensed last season with 16 and was named a first-team All-American.
David Ojabo, Edge, Michigan: Is the potential upside worth the wait? Ojabo is still raw when it comes to the game but had a breakout season in 2021, recording 11 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles and three passes defensed. He was a surefire first-round pick … until he tore his Achilles at Pro Day. His status for 2022 is uncertain as well is how the injury could affect his future potential. But the Vikings could get a gem of a talent if they don’t mind using a Day 2 pick on a possible redshirt year.
George Pickens, WR, Georgia: One of the draft’s more polarizing players. Pickens has loads of talent – and has been called by some potentially the best receiver in the class – but he has off-field issues and did tear is ACL in 2021. However, he did return in 2022 after missing the first 11 games and posted 107 yards on five catches in the Bulldogs’ final four games. Pickens has good size (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) and ran a 4.47 in the 40 at the combine.
Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State: With Conklin gone and Irv Smith Jr. coming off an injury, Minnesota could stand to use another solid tight end. Ruckert was used more as a blocker in college but has the ability to put up decent reception numbers as a pro. At 6-foot-5, 252 pounds, Ruckert has the size which coincides with tight ends on the Rams when new head coach O’Connell was Los Angeles’ offensive coordinator.
Jamaree Salyer, G, Georgia: A tackle in college but projects to a guard due to his size (6-foot-3, 321 pounds). However, he could also potentially be a fill-in at tackle if needed and even has experience at center. He can bully opponents. Salyer put up 31 reps in the bench press at the NFL combine.
Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M: Running back is a sneaky need for Minnesota, with Alexander Mattison in the last year of his contract and the Vikings being able to get out of Dalvin Cook’s contract with minimal pain after 2023. Spiller nearly had three 1,000-yard rushing seasons – missing out by 54 yards as a freshman – and had 16 games with 100+ yards, most of the Aggies in nearly 30 years. He can catch, too, with 74 receptions over his three years.
Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Nebraska: Led Nebraska in passes defensed in each of the past two seasons with 12 and six. Can also play safety, where he made seven starts in 2019. Ran 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine.
Cameron Thomas, DE, San Diego State: Thomas played all along the front in a three-man line with the Aztecs. He finished third in FBS with 20.5 tackles for loss while also producing 11.5 sacks. Thomas, 6-foot-4, 267 pounds, was named a second-team All-American in 2021.
Jaylen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama: Adam Thielen won’t be around forever. Tolbert could be a nice addition in the third round. He’s not overly fast but has good tracking ability. Tolbert had a pair of 1,000-yard seasons the past two years, with eight touchdowns in each. Last season he set highs with 82 receptions and 1,474 yards (18.0 average).
Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA: A former wide receiver who is a bit raw but with tremendous upside. Woolen is 6-4, 205 pounds and ran a 4.26 40 at the NFL combine. Over the past two seasons he recorded 50 tackles, five TFL, 11 passes defensed and two interceptions. Quarterbacks completed 42% and 37% of pass attempts against him the past two seasons.