Wheeler Dealer Spielman Strikes Again: Minnesota Vikings Draft

Minnesota Vikings Draft Picks:

1st Round, 9th Overall- LB Anthony Barr
1st Round, 32nd Overall- QB Teddy Bridgewater
3rd Round, 72nd Overall- DE Scott Crichton
3rd Round, 96th Overall- RB Jerick McKinnon
5th Round, 145th Overall- OG David Yankey
6th Round, 182nd Overall -DB Antone Exum
6th Round, 184th Overall- CB Kendall James
7th Round, 220th Overall- DT Shamar Stephen
7th Round, 223rd Overall- LB Brandon Watts
7th Round, 225th Overall- CB Jabari Price

Vikings Draft Grade: 9/10

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Like the title suggests Rick Spielman, GM of the Vikings, likes his trades! And once again we were treated to a somewhat subdued (admittedly by his standards) class in how to work the draft. For the third straight year, the Vikings did not have a second round pick and I am getting quite used to the idea of a quiet second draft day, using the 2nd and 4th round picks to move back up to 32nd over all to select future starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

This will be a make or break for Spielman’s tenure in Minnesota. Another bust at QB and he is out the door. It is a sad thing to say considering how well he has drafted the last 3 years. He has been aggressive without betting the teams future on moving up, having 7 first round picks in the last three drafts and not one future pick has been given up. I seem to be one of the few who are really glad that the potential trade with the Philadelphia Eagles fell through and that Cleveland took Johnny Manziel. Manziel does not fit the Vikings personality, ever since Spielman was made General Manager; the Vikings have preached personality and talent over superstar ego. This draft showed that again, several players with character issues were passed over for players who had more raw talent and the right personality. Spielman is hedging his bets on the ability of new coach Mike Zimmer to develop players, like he did for the Bengals.

The selection of Barr with the first pick, along with Crichton, McKinnon, Exum and the later round picks screams this approach; all are very raw and very talented. One thing is apparent this off season; the Vikings want to make one of the scariest front seven in the league when it comes to the blitz. Barr and Crichton are known as pass rush specialists in college, both posting double digit sacks last season and according to the Vikings, they viewed Barr as the second best rusher in the draft.

The Vikings appeared to have got a bit of a steal with OG David Yankey in the 5th round. Expected to go on day two, he slipped from a late 3rd round to be selected 145th overall. He solves a long standing problem on the offensive line that has some of the best talent in the league on it. Charlie Johnson has proven to be the weak link at Left Guard and this could signal the end of his tenure at the position. Yankey should develop into a powerhouse in opening run lanes for Adrian Peterson.

The one ‘HUH’ selection was that of RB, Jerick McKinnon in the 3rd round. This is a real development project for such a high selection, starting as a read option QB in college; he has very little experience in being a true running back and is an unproven pass catcher. Part of me is wondering if this could be a re-imagining of the unsuccessful Blazer package ran under previous OC Bill Musgrave, using Patterson, Bridgewater and McKinnon lined up on the field in a wildcard option.

The concerns I have coming out of this draft are the lack of clarity at LB. Barr would fit the strong side position more than any other position and this is currently occupied by Chad Greenway. This could see a reshuffling of personnel and positions across the board. The other issue I have is the lack of defensive backs drafted early; I would have liked to see the 3rd round used to select a CB or safety rather than the RB selection. Yes, there were three defensive backs taken later on in the draft but they will need time to develop in a position that really does not have a lot of depth beyond the starters and even they are unproven outside of two names.

Going in, it was hard to see a way to fix every hole on the team in one draft; the defense was a mess last year and needed a lot more talent across the board. This draft has started that process while making the team look meaner as a whole. Mike Zimmer’s defense is going to be aggressive as hell it appears. Spielman’s trade for Bridgewater could turn into a franchise making move, projected not too long ago as the first overall selection (remember those suck for teddy people?), he managed to get Teddy from under Houston’s nose. The 1st round criteria could prove very important as it comes with a 5th year option on the rookie contract, meaning that without much issue, the Vikings may not have to worry about a new contract for Bridgewater for 6 years. Player development has been at the heart of the Vikings mentality and this draft showed that again.

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