Whether or not Minnesota stands pat with one Day 2 selection, there are several players who feel like optimal fits. Using “The Beast,” by The Athletic’s Dane Brugler, as a guide, here are 10 names to keep your eye on Friday:
Terell Smith, CB, Minnesota (6-0, 204)
The Vikings need defense. Like, all over the place. And Smith, who played his college ball locally and did visit the Vikings for a top-30 visit, would fit the bill for defensive coordinator Brian Flores. Smith is a track athlete with size, speed and long arms who could play press-man coverage. Given Minnesota’s need for a cornerback to man the outside, especially in defensive sub-packages, Smith would fit the bill.
Corey Trice Jr., CB, Purdue (6-3, 206)
Brugler described Trice as a “king-sized athlete with elite height, build and length for the position.” To which it seems fair to respond: Where can the Vikings sign up? Trice has room to progress technically, but the athleticism likely pops on the Vikings’ projection models, and what he could offer coincides with Smith’s in that he’d provide Minnesota some help defensively.
Isaiah Foskey, Edge, Notre Dame (6-5, 264)
By now, hopefully, you’ve noticed the defensive theme. Though cornerback seems more obvious in terms of what the Vikings must add in the short term, depth at the edge-rusher position feels important, especially considering the contracts of Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter. Foskey’s traits match nicely with what the Vikings want, and although his pass-rush moves lack complexity, he stands as a moldable talent. This would be a bet on pass-rush specialist Mike Smith’s ability to maximize the team’s talent.
Marte Mapu, LB/S, Sacramento State (6-3, 221)
He’s versatile. He’s smart. And he can blitz. Adding him to the Vikings’ defense would not hurt. He is stoic. He plays aggressively. Thinking about his fit alongside Flores is too easy. He may not slide all the way to No. 87, but if he does, it feels like a solid match.
Zach Harrison, Edge, Ohio State (6-5, 274)
Harrison is essentially the edge-rusher version of Trice. Harrison is huge and can move. His measurables — the longest arms (36 1/4 inches) and wingspan (85 1/2 inches) among defensive linemen in this draft class — are hard to fathom. If there are questions, they lie in his stiffness and lack of bend.
Henry To’oTo’o, LB, Alabama (6-1, 227)
Another frequent mention in this space over the last few weeks, To’oTo’o could fit if the team wanted an off-ball linebacker with experience and schematic familiarity. To’oTo’o manned the controls for legendary Alabama coach Nick Saban. And while he lacks coveted length, his instincts would be an interesting addition alongside the impactful wrecking ball that is Brian Asamoah.
Adetomiwa Adebawore, DT, Northwestern (6-1, 282)
Whether he simply sideswiped his way past them or thrust them aside, Adebawore tore through offensive linemen at the Senior Bowl. He’s not the most creative of pass rushers on the interior, but his sheer athleticism could enhance the Vikings’ options up front. That a player like Calijah Kancey did not fall to the Vikings in the first round meant the team wasn’t going to snag an interior presence up high. This could be a chance to add an impressive athlete at the position later in this draft.
Darius Rush, CB, South Carolina (6-1, 198)
Will he slide into the third round? If he does, Rush stands as a reliable option to fill the team’s cornerback hole. He, too, starred at the Senior Bowl. He plays with press-man traits. And he does boast fluidity and length. Altogether, his attributes warrant a look if the Vikings remain at No. 87.
Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State (6-2, 198)
Most of the players on this list are outliers in some capacity. It’s the length for some and the athleticism for others. Brents’ potential is all about his size. Can he track the ball optimally? Can he stay balanced while covering the best receivers in the NFL? They’re fair questions. But Brents can move, is fluid and can scratch his ankles standing up. His ability to disrupt the releases of particular receivers is a tool that aligns with how the Vikings are going to play defensively.
Tank Bigsby, RB, Auburn (5-11, 210)
Why not throw a non-defender in here? If the Vikings were to stick with offense, the two likeliest options are running back and interior offensive lineman. Bigsby can catch. He is explosive. In college, as Brugler pointed out, Bigsby had trouble at times decisively selecting rush lanes. But in a scenario where the Vikings move on from Dalvin Cook, Bigsby is an option who could provide home run-hitting ability.