A lot of fans of the Minnesota Vikings were excited, and quite rightfully so, when General Manager Rick Spielman and company made the bold and aggressive moves necessary to acquired three first-round picks in this year's NFL Draft. With the first of those picks, they selected defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, who was projected by many as a Top 3 selection and the first defensive player off the board. With the second, they took cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who spent much of the pre-draft season as the top-ranked player at his position on the board. Finally, they traded back up into the first round to take wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, who had the size and speed combination to make scouts drool despite just one year of major college football.
Compared to the other players that were selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, the trio. . .for some reason. . .is having trouble getting on the field.
According to the folks at 1500 ESPN (courtesy of stats from Pro Football Focus), the Vikings' first round selections are below more than half of their peers when it comes to snaps played in their rookie seasons.
Rhodes is the highest among the three, having seen the field for 66% of Minnesota's defensive snaps this season (250 snaps out of a possible 375). His Bluto Blutarsky-esque PFF grade for the year. . .that being a 0.0. . .makes him the second-highest graded corner on the team, behind only Marcus Sherels (who has only been on the field for 157 snaps). The next highest corner is Chris Cook at a -1.8, and the less said about A.J. Jefferson and Josh Robinson, the better.
Floyd is further down, having only seen the field on 36% (136/375) of Minnesota's defensive snaps, putting him at 27th of the 32 first-rounders. His grade for the season of -1.9 puts him ahead of both Kevin Williams (who has been averaging 50 snaps a contest despite Leslie Frazier saying that he was going to "limit his snaps" this season) and Letroy Guion. As PFF points out, his pass rushing skills have been solid this year, but his run defense has not.
Even further below him is Patterson, who has been on the field for just 62 of Minnesota's 316 offensive plays this year, or around 20%. That puts him 30th out of 32 first round picks for this year. The only two first-rounders below him are Denver defensive tackle Sylvester Williams (just one percentage point behind) and Arizona offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper, who was placed on IR during the pre-season and will not see a single snap this year.
With the Vikings at 1-4 and flailing pretty badly for the most part, it's time that the Minnesota Vikings really see what they have in these three players, and some of their other rookies as well. Guys like Kevin Williams and Joe Webb and Chris Cook are not, in all likelihood, going to be back next season. If there's an opportunity to get these guys on the field, whether it's rotating them in more frequently (as is the case with Floyd and Patterson) or waiting for them to get healthy (like Rhodes), it's time to see what this talent trio can do when given the opportunity. Hopefully it won't take a few more losses for us to get the opportunity to see it.