2014 NFL Mock Draft, Complete 1st Round, V 4.0

8 of 12

8. Minnesota Vikings
Darqueze Dennard
Cornerback, Michigan State

Dec 7, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan State Spartans cornerback Darqueze Dennard (31) breaks up a pass intended for Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Devin Smith (9) during the Big Ten Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

This was one of the more difficult picks because my first seven picks are a worst-case scenario for Minnesota. Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles are off my board. Five of my top choices are gone including my entire top four. Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer aren’t putting their careers in Johnny Manziel’s hands.

A defensive-minded head coach is left to improve his defense. Does Zimmer focus on a 3-tech defensive tackle like Aaron Donald (already off my board)? What about a pass-rushing specialist like Khalil Mack or Anthony Barr (both off my board)? Despite Harrison Smith returning from injury and the recent additions of Captain Munnerlyn and Derek Cox, cornerback and safety are still in play. Don’t forget about C.J. Mosley or Ra’Shede Hageman.

The Vikings have used a first-rounder on defensive backs in each of the past two seasons (Xavier Rhodes 13, H. Smith 12) plus they signed Munnerlyn & Cox this offseason. Do they invest another first-rounder at defensive back? Maybe so unless they’re okay with Mosley or Hageman as top-ten picks (or trade down). Darqueze Dennard appears like the better press-coverage cornerback who’d fit in Zimmer’s defense.

Realistic Preferred Options if Fell:

  1. Teddy Bridgewater, QB
  2. Aaron Donald, DT
  3. Khalil Mack, DE/LB
  4. Blake Bortles, QB