PFF draft board: Minnesota Vikings

Senior Analyst Sam Monson takes a pick-by-pick look at the 2016 draft prospects that best fit the Vikings' needs.

| 6 months ago
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

PFF draft board: Minnesota Vikings

PFF is putting together team-specific draft boards for all 32 franchises using our draft rankings and evaluation of how each player fits in specific schemes.

Included are three ideal targets for each team with their first-, second-, and third-round picks, along with a team-specific draft board (at the bottom of this article) that includes every player in PFF’s draft rankings.

Here is the entry for the Minnesota Vikings:

Round 1 (23rd overall)

Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State

The Vikings are in the market for a wide receiver, but also a specific type of wideout. With Josh Doctson likely off the board by the time they pick, the team should be focused instead on Michael Thomas, who has the size (6-foot-3, 212 pounds) and strength to become a difference-maker. Minnesota has quickness elsewhere in the receiving corps, but are lacking the physicality that Thomas can bring to help Bridgewater out in the underneath game. He also has the ability to go deep and win downfield against defensive backs in this offense.

Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss

PFF may be lower on Treadwell than other people, but he still makes a lot of sense for a team like the Vikings in the first round. He may not separate well, but he is physical and has impressive run-after-the-catch skills, breaking 17 tackles with the ball in his hands last season. He could become the possession target in this offense and free up Stefon Diggs on the other side.

Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia

There is only one safety in this class worthy of a first-round pick, and Karl Joseph is that guy. He is a very close match for Harrison Smith as a player who can play in all safety roles in a defense, and would give the Vikings an incredibly versatile pairing, allowing them to become incredibly creative and disguise their coverages in a way most teams cannot.

Round 2 (54th overall)

Kevin Byard, S, Middle Tennessee State

As much as the Vikings change up their coverages, they use a lot of single-high safety, and Byard might be the best pure FS in this draft. Harrison Smith is capable of moving around and playing both, but to facilitate that, Minnesota needs a second safety that can play centerfield. Last season, they played a variant of cover-1 or cover-3 coverage on 53.1 percent of their snaps, so any safety they draft needs to have range.

Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State

Another player PFF is cooler on than others, Decker is too good of a prospect to let slip beyond this point, and the Vikings are fans of halting draft-day slides. The former Buckeye has allowed only two sacks over the past two seasons, and averaged 15 total pressures per season. With Matt Kalil already outstaying his welcome, this could be the ideal replacement.

Keyarris Garrett, WR, Tulsa

Every time I studied a cornerback prospect played Tulsa, Keyarris Garrett jumped off the tape as a player with huge talent. He gave William Jackson III (one of the best CB prospects in this draft, in PFF’s eyes) all he could handle when the two met head-to-head. Garrett broke 21 tackles in 96 receptions this past season.

Round 3 (86th overall)

Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama

Round 3 may not be a happy place for the Vikings if the PFF draft board is to be believed. The team needs to start thinking about life after Adrian Peterson, and neither Jerick McKinnon nor Matt Asiata make that landscape any more appealing. Henry may not be a blue-chip prospect, but he can be an impact-player in the NFL in the kind of power scheme the Vikings like to employ. He notched 1,339 yards last season after first contact.

Justin Simmons, S, Boston College

If Kevin Byard is the FS to allow Harrison Smith to move around, Simmons would be the rover that moves Smith back to more of a true free-safety role. He graded positively in all areas of the game last season, and only missed five tackles all year.

Kentrell Brothers, LB, Missouri

At some point, the Vikings need to stop playing Chad Greenway, and Kentrell Brothers would be the perfect excuse to stop doing so. His measurables are not good, hence this draft spot, but his production and instincts are excellent, and he could join Barr and Eric Kendricks to create an excellent young LB corps.

PlayerPositionSchoolPFF Draft BoardMinnesota Vikings Draft Board
Joey BosaEDGEOhio State11
Laremy TunsilOTOle Miss52
Jalen RamseyCBFlorida State33
Corey ColemanWRBaylor94
Myles JackLBUCLA65
Ezekiel ElliottRBOhio State76
Josh DoctsonWRTCU107
Jack ConklinOTMichigan State138
DeForest BucknerDIOregon29
Shaq LawsonEDGEClemson1110
Sterling ShepardWROklahoma2311
Leonte CarrooWRRutgers3512
Sheldon RankinsDILouisville813
Carson WentzQBNorth Dakota State1414
William Jackson IIICBHouston1515
Jaylon SmithLBNotre Dame2516
Vernon HargreavesCBFlorida1817
Chris JonesDIMississippi State1218
Rashard HigginsWRColorado State4019
Jared GoffQBCal420
Cody WhitehairGKansas State1721
Michael Thomas (OSU)WROhio State2422
Karl JosephSWest Virginia3023
Hunter HenryTEArkansas3324
Leonard FloydEDGEGeorgia1925
Reggie RaglandLBAlabama2625
Jonathan BullardDIFlorida2727
Emmanuel OgbahEDGEOklahoma State3727
Michael Thomas (SM)WRSouthern Miss3829
Keyarris GarrettWRTulsa6430
Taylor DeckerOTOhio State5231
Ronnie StanleyOTNotre Dame1632
Sheldon DayDINotre Dame3433
Jarran ReedDIAlabama2034
Andrew BillingsDIBaylor2235
Austin JohnsonDIPenn State3936
Paxton LynchQBMemphis5537
Kalan ReedCBSouthern Miss5437
Ryan KellyCAlabama4239
Robert NkemdicheDIOle Miss4439
Jerell AdamsTESouth Carolina5941
Su'a CravensLBUSC4842
Joshua GarnettGStanford5043
Jordan HowardRBIndiana5644
Darron LeeLBOhio State8145
De'Vante HarrisCBTexas A&M6946
Carl NassibEDGEPenn State6846
Connor CookQBMichigan State7548
Cyrus JonesCBAlabama7748
Jeremy CashSDuke5350
Maliek CollinsDINebraska6151
Adolphus WashingtonDIOhio State4352
Shon ColemanOTAuburn9153
Nick KwiatkowskiLBWest Virginia7654
Jason SpriggsOTIndiana4655
Kenneth DixonRBLouisiana Tech4755
Joe ThuneyOTNC State5157
Paul PerkinsRBUCLA4957
Kevin DoddEDGEClemson7059
Pharoh CooperWRSouth Carolina9659
Cre'Von LeBlancCBFlorida Atlantic9359
Braxton MillerWROhio State9859
Javon HargraveDISouth Carolina State7963
Hassan RidgewayDITexas5764
Joshua PerryLBOhio State8665
Joe SchobertEDGEWisconsin7466
Malcolm MitchellWRGeorgia6767
Darius LathamDIIndiana8468
Mackenzie AlexanderCBClemson2169
Nick VanHooseCBNorthwestern8870
Scooby Wright IIILBArizona7171
Nick MartinCNotre Dame4572
Willie HenryDIMichigan9972
Kentrell BrothersLBMissouri10874
Shilique CalhounEDGEMichigan State2975
Spencer DrangoGBaylor10776
Eli AppleCBOhio State3177
Bronson KaufusiEDGEBYU6677
Ronald BlairEDGEAppalachian State10277
Le'Raven ClarkOTTexas Tech11980
Noah SpenceEDGEEastern Kentucky3681
Isaac SeumaloGOregon State6382
Will FullerWRNotre Dame6083
Xavien HowardCBBaylor8084
Darian ThompsonSBoise State8384
Vernon ButlerDILouisiana Tech3286
Matt SkuraCDuke12886
Sebastian TretolaGArkansas12686
Daniel BravermanWRWestern Michigan6286
Tavon YoungCBTemple11590
Vonn BellSOhio State9091
Thomas DuarteTEUCLA8991
Steven DanielsLBBoston College10193
Jordan PaytonWRUCLA11894
Kevin PetersonCBOklahoma State9495
Austin HooperTEStanford12595
Will AnthonyEDGENavy13295
Joe DahlOTWashington State11298
A'Shawn RobinsonDIAlabama4199
Matt IoannidisDITemple12499
Germain IfediOTTexas A&M182101
Tyler BoydWRPittsburgh82101
Christian WestermanGArizona State85103
Kyler FackrellEDGEUtah State65104
Dean LowryDINorthwestern97105
Devin LucienWRArizona State92106
Darrell GreeneGSan Diego State157107
Jake McGeeTEFlorida123108
Laquon TreadwellWROle Miss28109
Kenny ClarkDIUCLA58110
Alex CollinsRBArkansas87111
Kevin ByardSMiddle Tennessee State73112
Nelson SpruceWRColorado145113
Anthony ZettelDIPenn State114114
Kamalei CorreaEDGEBoise State78115
David MorganTEUTSA153116
Tajae SharpeWRUmass180116
Aaron BurbridgeWRMichigan State138118
Austin BlytheCIowa203119
Demarcus AyersWRHouston150120
Devon CajusteTEStanford174121
Cardale JonesQBOhio State222122
Jakeem GrantWRTexas Tech173122
Kyle MurphyOTStanford72124
Brandon DoughtyQBWestern Kentucky109125
Henry Krieger-CobleTEIowa230126
Matt JohnsonQBBowling Green110127
Vernon Adams, JRQBOregon111127
Demarcus RobinsonWRFlorida140129
Derrick HenryRBAlabama95130
Landon TurnerGNorth Carolina133131
Devontae BookerRBUtah103132
C.J. ProsiseRBNotre Dame105132
Daniel LascoRBCal141134
Will ParksSArizona100135
Brandon AllenQBArkansas104135
B.J. GoodsonLBClemson146135
Joe HaegOTNorth Dakota State117138
Nila KasitatiGOklahoma152139
Jatavis BrownLBAkron131140
D.J. ReaderDIClemson162141
Brandon ShellOTSouth Carolina191141
Jayron KearseSClemson120143
Will RedmondCBMississippi State116143
Kenyan DrakeRBAlabama135145
Jonathan WilliamsRBArkansas137145
Terrell ChestnutCBWest Virginia129147
Tyrone HolmesEDGEMontana130147
Jack AllenCMichigan State122149
Trevone BoykinQBTCU142150
Charles TapperEDGEOklahoma136150
Kendall FullerCBVirginia Tech139150
Byron MarshallWROregon121153
Keanu NealSFlorida176154
Tyler MatakevichLBTemple185155
Perez FordLBNorthern Illinois188155
Jihad WardDIIllinois159157
Tyler GrayLBBoise State160158
Jacoby BrissettQBNC State151159
Kevin HoganQBStanford143159
Jeff DriskelQBLouisiana Tech149159
Eric MurrayCBMinnesota154159
Cody KesslerQBUSC106159
Kolby ListenbeeWRTCU181164
Miles KillebrewSSouther Utah187165
Eddie YarbroughEDGEWyoming192165
Nick VigilLBUtah State205167
Jhurell PressleyRBNew Mexico179168
Justin SimmonsSBoston College163169
D.J. WhiteCBGeorgia Tech155169
Eric StrikerEDGEOklahoma165169
Cody CoreWROle Miss184172
Kenny LawlerWRCal193172
Nile Lawrence-StampleDIFlorida State148174
Dak PrescottQBMississippi State221175
Roger LewisWRBowling Green224175
Max TuerkCUSC113177
Trevon ColeyDIFlorida Atlantic186177
Jordan JenkinsEDGEGeorgia127179
Caleb AzubikeEDGEVanderbilt209179
KeiVarae RussellCBNotre Dame171181
Corey TindalCBMarshall172181
Alex LewisOTNebraska183183
DeAndre WashingtonRBTexas Tech194183
Graham GlasgowGMichigan158185
Cory JohnsonDIKentucky156185
Ryker MathewsGBYU164185
Yannick NgakoueEDGEMaryland134188
Connor WujciakDIBoston College204189
Adam GotsisDIGeorgia Tech177190
Blake MartinezLBStanford198191
Artie BurnsCBMiami144192
Taveze CalhounCBMississippi State147192
Jenson StoshakWRFlorida Atlantic214194
Jordan WilliamsWRBall State218194
Joey HuntCTCU189196
Rees OdhiamboGBoise State190196
Dadi Lhomme NicholasEDGEVirginia Tech161198
Aaron WallaceEDGEUCLA166198
Rashard RobinsonCBLSU200200
Clayton FejedelemSIllinois201200
Tanner McEvoySWisconsin206200
Curt MaggittEDGETennessee207200
Donte DeayonCBBoise State199200
Boston StiversonGKansas State237205
Jarell BroxtonGBaylor238205
Vadal AlexanderGLSU243205
Tyler RobertsLBTroy215208
Alex McCalisterEDGEFlorida169209
Tyler ErvinRBSan Jose State197210
Terrell LathanDITCU167211
Ted KarrasGIllinois213212
Connor McGovernGMissouri202212
T.J. GreenSClemson217214
Teddy RubenWRTroy212214
Mitch MathewsWRBYU226216
Charone PeakeWRClemson229216
Chris MooreWRCincinnati236216
Trevor DavisWRCal239216
Bryson AlbrightEDGEMiami (OH)195220
Travis FeeneyEDGEWashington196220
Kyle RoseDIWest Virginia168222
Sterling BaileyDIGeorgia170222
Delvon SimmonsDIUSC175222
Brennan ScarlettDIStanford178222
John TheusOTGeorgia231226
Jerald HawkinsOTLSU232226
Justin MurrayOTCincinnati249226
Deion JonesLBLSU250226
Josh FergusonRBIllinois235226
Wendell SmallwoodRBWest Virginia228226
D.J. FosterWRArizona State216232
D.J. PettwayEDGEAlabama211233
Praise Martin-OguikeEDGETemple208233
Mike HiltonSOle Miss233235
Nick ArbuckleQBGeorgia State242235
Prince Charles IworahCBWestern Kentucky225235
Jalen MillsCBLSU247235
Jimmy BeanEDGEOklahoma State248235
Quniton JeffersonDIMaryland210240
Jesse ChapmanCAppalachian State241241
Jake BrendelCUCLA245241
Vincent ValentineDINebraska234241
Martavius FosterDIColorado State240241
Ian SeauEDGENevada219245
Matt JudonEDGEGrand Valley State220245
Alex EricksonWRWisconsin227245
Mike RoseEDGENC State223248
Victor OchiEDGEStony Brook244248
Cory LittletonEDGEWashington246248

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

  • Mnstorm99

    Sterling Shepard @ 11
    Leonte Caroo @ 12
    Rashard Higgins @ 20
    Laquon Treadwell @ 66 (this has to be an error)


    I know you guys do a lot more homework on this than me, but other than Doctson, Treadwell and Thomas (OSU) are the only fits for the Vikings in the first. Your needs by round reflect this, but what the hell is the ranking trying to say?

    • Robert Morrison

      Shepard is the best WR and the most NFL ready WR in the draft. 4.48 40 41 inch vertical tied for the most reps in the bench press with 20, Shepard has the best hands in the draft. 8 drops in 4 years and over 230 catches. Quick off the line and gets separation with his route running. The only thing that holds Shepard from being everyone’s NO.1 WR is his 5’10” height. Father played for the Cowboys and is going to be a good locker room guy and in the community as well. Great blocker in the run game 20 reps at his height and weight. Shepard is a strong player. Gets good YAC and can shake DB’s after the catch. 5’10” but, Plays like he is 6’4″ makes good adjustments to the flight of the ball. Shepard isn’t a good 50/50 player, That because Shepard wins more than 50% more like a 90 /10 guy. Shepard goes to the right team. He will be a WR that can catch a 100 balls a year. Runs all routes on the route tree and can play outside or the slot. Beckham(38.5) and Steve Smith are both 5’10″but don’t have a 41 inch vertical like Shepard

      • Brian_pdx

        This rating for Shepard is a lot of hope and fairy dust (plays like he is 6’4″, really?). 5’10” works a lot better in college than the NFL and the Vikings need a possession receiver like Doctson or Thomas or Treadwell. We have WR speed even with Wallace thankfully someplace else. I think at least one of the taller guys has a 41″ vertical too and I would rather see us get someone taller and more rangy. 57 catches per year is not dazzling performance but I like the lack of drops so I would rather have him than the guys who drop 1/10 passes. Glad Spielman is in charge.

        • Robert Morrison

          Tell that to all those small WR at New England or Steve Smith and Odell Beckham. Do I need to go on about all the great under 6″ receivers

          • Brian_pdx

            It is not just the height of the receiver it is the match with the needs of the Vikings and Bridgewater, Spielman and Zimmer have now all said they wanted a tall, possession receiver. Think I will go along with them.

      • VoiceOfReason

        No no nooooooo, no Sheppard is most certainly NOT the most pro ready WR in this draft.
        He’s not even in the top 4.
        I, the Legendary VoiceOfReason am very happy you are not doing the drafting for the Legendary VoiceOfReasons Minnesota Vikings.
        Sheppard, most pro-ready, lol, oh my,lmao.

      • Craig W.

        You sound like an Oklahoma/Cowboys fan.

        • Robert Morrison

          Vikings and UCLA fan

        • Robert Morrison

          UCLA and Vikings fan. Just telling it like it is. Small WR get short(no pun intended) changed in what they can and can’t do on the field.

  • enai D

    Actually, in the real world, Jerick McKinnon absolutely makes the landscape of life after AP appealing. Either that was a typo, or Sam Monson hasn’t done his homework.

    • Mnstorm99

      I thought that explaination seemed off as well, but I do see the Vikings taking a RB in the mid-to-late rounds. For what it’s worth, Derrick Henry is exactly the type of player to take, even if it is to compliment J-Mack, and I would be happy with this selection.

      • enai D

        Yeah I can see them drafting a RB too, but saying that life after AP doesn’t look appealing with Jerick McKinnon is just non-factual to the point that it borders on delusion.

    • Brian_pdx

      The Vikings do need a feature back as McKinnon is not yet proven. They could go RB by committee with existing personnel, like they did when Peterson was out, but I think the RB from Alabama is a more attractive option if he is available at that point. Personally I would trade AP to Dallas for a 2nd and 3rd this year and next as their window is about to close. If we get Henry, don’t think we will miss AP given the players we can get and the cap space freed up.

    • CDinCalgary

      Agreed. Jerick has flashed superstar RB talent at times. Already a receiving option out if the backfield, and has good strength in blocking assignments. I read the above slight as a columnist only looking at total rush yards, and not really digging in to the game tape. I would like to see McKinnon get at least 150 snaps next year.

  • Erik Van Dootingh

    Michael Thomas is WAY too raw and would have trouble cracking the active roster as a rookie. We need someone more pro-ready if we go WR in the 1st. I rank them Coleman, Docston, Treadwell. I see Decker as more of a RT and would prefer Spriggs to take over for Kalil next year.

    • Brian_pdx

      Thomas seems to be underrated by a lot of people, I like Doctson more but he will be gone by 23 and Thomas, who can play in year one with good coaching, may be next best even before Treadwell. Thomas is more versatile. Coleman I am not as high on but I am an amateur at this stuff and glad we have smart people running the Vikings.