Blugold insight into the 2014 NFL Draft

Two staff writers discuss who the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings should choose with their first-round picks

Story by Austin Mai and Ellis Williams

This year’s NFL offseason has been one of the most intriguing ones in recent memory. Draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN and Mike Mayock of NFL Network have both said this upcoming class has more depth at the skill player positions than in the last twenty years.

The NFL moved the draft back two weeks this year, and it’s been strenuous for football fans awaiting their team’s newest arrivals. In hopes of itching the scratch of fans, this preview of the draft and addresses what we see are the best selections for a couple different teams.

Considering the location of this publication, we will be focusing on the needs of the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings.

In a division featuring wide receivers like Calvin Johnson and the dangerous duo of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, NFC North teams can’t have holes in their secondary. Therefore, the consensus is each team needs help safety position.

Outside of the secondary needs for Green Bay and Minnesota, it is clear each team is going to address different concerns in the draft. Below are the positions we believe these teams need going into next season.

Vikings Needs: QB, OG, S, OLB, CB
Packers Needs: C, S, TE, DE, WR, ILB

Vikings Draft Preview

The Minnesota Vikings had a record of 10-6 in 2012 and took a step back last season going 5-10-1. Many experts and fans believe the main cause of the regression was the inconsistent play at quarterback. Minnesota started three different signal callers and was 23rd in total passing offense. It is clear the quarterback of the future is not on the Vikings’ current roster. That doesn’t guarantee the Vikings will select a quarterback with their eighth pick, but it does ensure they will select a QB early in the draft.

Williams’ prediction: The Vikings are in what former Colts’ front office executive and current ESPN analyst Bill Polian calls an “if” draft. This means the Vikings decision with the eighth pick will hinge on what the teams picking in front of them do. If Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is still on the board when Minnesota is on the clock, I believe he will be its selection.

Manziel is an electrifying and polarizing player who is said by some experts to have the highest ceiling of any quarterback prospect in this year’s class. He would bring excitement to the Twin Cities area and would be the driving force behind the team’s new future as it prepares to move into their new stadium projected in 2016.

But if Manziel is not on the board, then I imagine the best choice for the Vikings would be to fall back in the draft and stockpile additional picks. Falling back in the first round would position the Vikings to draft who I believe is the second best quarterback in this class ­— Derek Carr.
Carr has a laser-rocket for an arm and quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr. said on ESPN he sees Carr as a young Matthew Stafford. Simply put, the Vikings could use a Matthew Stafford.

Unless the Vikings want to be in the race for Jameis Winston next year then they must find their franchise guy in this draft.

Packers Draft Preview
The Green Bay Packers barely won the NFC north division last year, finishing at 8-7-1. After losing Aaron Rodgers among other players, the team slipped into a lackluster state. Injuries aren’t supposed to be a reason why a team fails; all teams have injuries. But experts and fans agreed the green and gold were hurting without its premiere talent.

This offseason, the Packers did not re-sign tight end Jermichael Finley, safety M.D. Jennings, defensive lineman Ryan Pickett and offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith, among others. The four mentioned players were all starters, which leaves Green Bay with holes to fill in the draft.

After re-signing defensive lineman B.J. Raji, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said he will likely be returning to the nose tackle position, which leaves a new hole open to possibly be filled by last year’s first-round pick Datone Jones.

The Packers have been in the same situation since 2009. They have made the playoffs each year, which guarantees a first-round value between the 20th and 32nd overall picks. Packers general manager Ted Thompson has to decide between whether to draft a player earlier than projected to fill a position of need or to take the best player available with those mid-to-late first round picks. With the additional two weeks before the draft this year.

Mai’s Prediction: Even though this draft class has been touted as one of the best in the modern football era, I imagine the Packers won’t fill an immediate need with their first round pick. With that said, I believe the Packers will select Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley with the 21st overall pick. As Ohio State’s linebacker Ryan Shazier continues to rise up mock drafts, Mosley has dropped over the last two months. Originally, he was projected to be a top-12 pick, but since linebackers such as Buffalo’s Khalil Mack and UCLA’s Anthony Barr received a lot of attention lately, it appears Mosley has become an afterthought.

NFL Network’s Charles Davis said Mosley should be a top-10 pick in this year’s draft and is the type of player who can move all over the place to make plays. That’s exactly what the Packers’ defense needs after another less than great year from the pass rush.