The Minnesota Vikings are in a solid position to make things happen, provided they can build on a surprisingly-strong 2012. Few saw them competing to the extent they managed to last season, especially after having a top-five pick in the previous draft.
Now, they're picking much later, at No. 23, but they've improved on that position significantly since the offseason began, by trading Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for the No. 25 pick overall. With those two picks, the Vikings stand a good chance of landing some serious impact players in the draft.
Don Banks of SI.com released his latest mock draft on Wednesday, and he has the Vikings taking defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson out of Missouri with the No. 23 pick:
Most mocks have Richardson going in the top 15, with a bunch of those to No. 14 Carolina. But if Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei falls to the Panthers, Richardson could tumble all the way to the Vikings. With Minnesota having another first rounder to work with, thanks to the Percy Harvin trade with Seattle, the Vikings are in position to take the explosive and disruptive Richardson as Kevin Williams' eventual replacement.
Richardson would be a good pick for the Vikings, who need some youth along their defensive line. With the No. 25 pick, Banks has Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o headed to Minnesota:
Te'o comes off this board before top-rated Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert does, and some would say the odds of that happening aren't good. But the Vikings already have a Notre Dame tight end (Kyle Rudolph) and I'm not convinced they're targeting Cal receiver Keenan Allen with this pick, as many mockers are. The Vikings seem like a decent fit for Te'o, and Minnesota GM Rick Spielman does have a well-chronicled appreciation for Irish talent. The Vikings could still land a quality receiver along the lines of USC's Robert Woods at No. 52 in the second round.
It's true that Te'os stock seems to be all over the place after the scandal and then the fact that he generally looked poor at the scouting combine. Still, most feel like Te'o will be able to get the job done and he should be an immediate starter with the Vikings.
Dan Kadar of SB Nation released his mock on Monday, and he has the Vikings going a similar route, with a defensive tackle and an inside linebacker. However, he has Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown going to the team at No. 23 and Ohio State defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins going at No. 25.
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