Houston has the twenty-sixth pick and made it to the second round of the playoffs. They have had a turbulent offseason with the trading of DeAndre Hopkins causing a major stir among the faithful. The heat is on Bill O’Brien the general manager more than Bill O’Brien the coach.
The Vikings have twelve picks in the draft: two firsts, a second, two thirds, a fourth, fifth, two sixths, and three sevenths. The extra pick in the first, fifth, and sixth is for Stefon Diggs, while their other extra picks are compensatory.
I list the needs below, including major, for depth, and areas they are unlikely to look at. I may add categories for a particular situation.
Major Needs (No Particular Order):
Running Back: There will be a different look with 1,000 yard rusher Carlos Hyde and Lamar Miller being unsigned. The position will be in the hands of David Johnson and Duke Johnson. David Johnson was acquired in the trade that sent Hopkins to Arizona and he has not matched the big year he had in 2016. Also on the roster are Gregory Howell and Karan Higdon. There is a possibility they add another runner in the draft.
Wide Receiver: The trading of DeAndre Hopkins has changed this unit dramatically and his 104 receptions will be hard to make up. Will Fuller was next in receptions with 49 and that is a big gap between him and Hopkins – Fuller has also been bothered by injuries. Brandin Cooks was acquired from the Rams in a trade and Randall Cobb was signed as a free agent from Dallas. Kenny Stills caught 40 last year and Keke Coutee saw action. Steven Mitchell is also on the roster. It is not a bad group, but they will miss Hopkins and Stills is playing on an expiring contract. This means a player can be taken in the draft.
Offensive Line: This has been a troubled area. Tackles have potential with Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard, last year’s first-round pick, while left guard Max Scharping was their second. Zach Fulton is the right guard, where he is backed up by Senio Kelemente. Nick Martin is the center. Brent Qvale signed as a free agent from the Jets, where he will back up the tackles, along with Broderick Johnson. Greg Mancz and Rick Leonard are other reserves, while Chris Clark is unsigned. They addressed the unit last year with Howard and Scharping, but interior help will be needed.
Edge Rusher: One spot is set with Whitney Mercilus. The other side was held down by Brennan Scarlett, with pass rush help from Jacob Martin. A possibility is Duke Ejiofor, but his career has been held down by injuries. If Martin and Ejiofor can progress this year, they will be in good shape, but they will need an edge rusher.
Defensive Line: JJ Watt is one of the game’s best, but he missed significant time with injuries and getting a player who can fill in admirably would be nice. In addition, DJ Reader’s defection to Cincinnati in free agency is a big loss. Watt will be one end, while Angelo Blackson returns on the other side. Nose tackle may have a rotation of Eddie Vanderdoes and free agent signee Tim Jernigan from the Eagles. Backing up the ends are Brandon Dunn, Charles Omenihu, and Carlos Watkins. A defensive lineman could be one of their earlier picks and it makes sense with Reader’s departure and Watt’s injury history.
Cornerback: The top three corners appear to be Gareon Conley, a mideason acquisition from the Raiders, Bradley Roby, and Lonnie Johnson. Vernon Hargreaves was picked up during the year after disappointing in Tampa Bay and both he and Phillip Gaines. Johnathan Joseph is unsigned. There is a bit of a gamble with Conley, while Johnson may progress in year two, but it’s unknown and having another cornerback never hurt anybody.
Quarterback: The situation is good with DeShaun Watson going into his fourth year. He is backed up by AJ McCarron, while Alex McGough is on the roster. Joe Webb is unsigned. They will only draft for depth if they do anything here.
Tight End: Both Darren Fells and Jordan Akins had numerous starts and were productive. Jordan Thomas missed a good part of the season being injured. Kahale Warring was a third-round pick who spent the season on injured reserve. This is a deep group and I don’t see them picking here.
Inside Linebacker: Starters Benardrick McKinney and Zach Cunningham are very good against the run and bad against the pass. Dylan Cole has been good against the pass, but he tore his ACL last year. Also on the roster are Peter Kalambayi and Tyrell Adams. A pick for depth is wise, especially on somebody who can cover the pass.
Safety: The starters are Tashaun Gipson and up-and-coming Justin Reid. Signed in free agency are Eric Murray (Cleveland) and Jaylen Watkins (LA Chargers), with either challenging for time. AJ Moore returns from last year. Passaic Tech alum Mike Adams retired and Jahleel Addae are unsigned.
*Information from various sources, including Pro-Football Reference, Sportac, and ESPN.