It certainly wasn't what we have become accustomed to when it comes to the first round of the draft under Rick Spielman. There was no trading down. No trading back in. No stockpiling of picks. No surprises. Which, when you think about it, kind of makes it a surprise in and of itself.
In the end, the Vikings got exactly what they were supposed to--one player they hope will be an important piece of their future with the 11th pick. Nothing more, nothing less.
Of course the matter of whether Trae Waynes can be an important piece of the Vikings' future is still up for debate. We all know that Waynes is big and fast. But can he be a bookend corner with Xavier Rhodes to take on the daunting roster of NFC North wide receivers? It depends on who you ask. While the Waynes selection may have divided the Vikings fan base, most can agree that Mike Zimmer is more than capable of getting the most out of his defensive players. Zimmer and his staff took a very long and careful look at Waynes leading up to the draft. Waynes' flaws weren't enough to deter them from making him the first cornerback taken.
Remember, Rhodes wasn't the player he is today when the Vikings first selected him. And lots of us had questions about Anthony Barr after the Vikings picked him ninth overall last year. Zimmer and defensive coordinator George Edwards sure seemed to coach them up pretty well, didn't they?
For that reason I'm cautiously optimistic about the addition of the Vikings' newest cornerback. For an early draft grade I'd say I give the Waynes pick a...
...wait, were you expecting a draft grade? Really?! Less than 24 hours after the first round? When all of the players are still four months away from playing their first NFL down? That would be like a college handing out diplomas after freshman orientation! Every single draft grade should be the same--INCOMPLETE! And it should stay that way until at least 2018!
That said, I did like this honest evaluation of the pick from Mike Tanier. Waynes is far from perfect, but you simply can't ignore the size and speed that he brings to the table. That sums up my initial reaction pretty well.
Perhaps the biggest addition to the team last night was the player that wasn't subtracted from it. Adrian Peterson is back, ladies and gentlemen! (Probably!) Even his agent (and possible supervillain) Ben Dogra appears to be changing his tune and accepting that Peterson will likely be in Minnesota this season. Of course Dogra still wants more financial security for his client but that's a discussion for a later date.
I'll probably write a lot more about this in the weeks following the draft. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings to get off my chest regarding the Vikings fallen hero, many of which conflict with each other. So for now, a high-level thought: it's officially time for the healing process to begin. As weird as it feels now, all it will take for us to come back around is the old Adrian Peterson back out on the field. If he can come back and be the dominating player we've watched for the past eight years, the animosity will slowly start to wash away. Fans will clamor for his autograph in Mankato. Number 28 jerseys will flood the stands. The Vikings offense might become incredibly formidable. At the end of the day we're all just cheering for laundry, and it looks like Peterson will still be wearing our favorite kind of laundry in 2015.
Of course there are still plenty more players poised to don that special laundry in the coming days. The second and third rounds take place tonight and should be very important for the Vikings addressing their remaining needs. Like I did with the Day 1 preview, I'll give some broad strokes at my best guess of what the Vikings will do on Friday night. This isn't intended to be an exhaustive list by any means but I will name a lot of the players I like.
With cornerback theoretically shored up, linebacker seems to be the most glaring need for the Vikings defense. It's pretty clear that Eric Kendricks is the best LB remaining after Round 1, but did his knee issues cause him to fall? According to multiple reports at least one NFL team didn't medically clear Kendricks. As much as we Vikings fans trust in Zimmer to coach up Minnesota's defense, don't we trust Eric Sugarman even more to heal up Minnesota's players?Unless his knee is a huge issue, Kendricks is probably my top target for Day 2.
Benardrick McKinney has some good traits but he seems like a possible poor fit in this defense due to his lack of coverage skills. (And besides, we can't draft all defenders with questionable lateral agility! Amiright, Waynes dissenters?! High five!)
Paul Dawson is a solid player with great instincts and ability to stop the run, But Spielman's comments about character playing a big part in their selection process make me think that he's a long shot to get drafted by the Vikings.
I liked the film I saw of Denzel Perryman at Miami. He's a hard-hitting ball of muscle who is great at getting to the ball carrier. You'll find the word "toughness" in every scouting report you read about him. But do the Vikings really want a 236 pound two-down linebacker? That's what Perryman is likely to be in the NFL. If they choose Denzel in the second round I will have the same "he needs work, but I can see why they chose him" reaction I had with Waynes.
Should I include Landon Collins in this section instead of his posted position of safety? Arif has discussed the thought of putting him at outside linebacker and it's very intriguing. I don't know how his skills will translate to the NFL safety position, but it might be fun to see what Zimmer could do with him.
Dorial Green-Beckham is a complete wild card for a variety of reasons. Mocking the Draft's Dan Kadar has him slotted to the Vikings in the second round but the big C--character--comes into play once again. I'd be a lot happier with someone like Jaelen Strong or Devin Smith if the Vikings wanted to go wide receiver today, who are still excellent talents without all the baggage. (Smith has the baggage of being from Ohio State which will make Ted insufferable, but it's not as bad as DGB's baggage.) Sammie Coates could be a nice addition in the third round.
I still don't think wide receiver is a huge need this season for the Vikings. There will still be a lot of value at wide receiver in the later rounds so I think tonight's picks could be better served with other positions.
We still don't know who's starting at left guard when the 2015 season begins--will the Vikings try to address that question today? I certainly wouldn't be upset with the Vikings taking Ali Marpet or Tre' Jackson in the third round tonight.
Best player available
Yep, there's always this option too. Getting great players independent of position is always a sound strategy. Guys like Randy Gregory, Maxx Williams, Preston Smith, and the bevvy of good running backs left on the board wouldn't fill holes in the Vikings roster but they could certainly bolster it. I won't pretend to know everything about the respective value of all the remaining players that didn't get picked last night--remember, I have never claimed to be a Certified Draft Expert™. Just don't be surprised if the players picked by the Vikings on Friday night don't fall into one of the categories I have listed.
The triumphant return of Wheelin' Dealin' Spielman?
When Rick Spielman was asked about not trading back last night, he explained how none of the offers the team received were really worth it. But you could almost hear a tinge of "nobody wanted to play with me" when he said it. (This is why we already dearly miss Ted's RickSpeak articles.) Can Spielman stomach the thought of standing pat for two consecutive days without making it to double digits in total picks? With so many big names left on the board heading into Round 2, there's a very good chance that Rick will get plenty of phone calls to make some deals. Let's see if Friday turns out to be a little more eventful and unpredictable than Thursday for the Vikings.
Stay tuned for all our up to the minute draft coverage here on Daily Norseman throughout the evening. I'll be back at Winter Park to cover Waynes' introductory press conference and the entirety of Rounds 2 and 3.
And oh yeah, one last thing:
GOOOOOO WILD!! BEAT THE BLACKHAWKS!!
(If my Twitter feed gets a little distracted after 8:30 tonight, you know why.)