It isn't always easy trying to find stories to do for folks to read, particularly now that the draft excitement is starting to wear off and we're hitting a bit of a lull between now and the pre-season. However, one of our readers on the Twitter machine just sort of hit me upside the head with an idea.
(Well, not literally or anything. . .virtually, I mean.)
Here's what he sent me.
@DailyNorseman How would you rank the draft picks, counting any UDFA, by the value of where they were picked?— Mitch Malcolm (@MitchM467) May 4, 2015
I hadn't really thought much about it before that, but that's a pretty good question. The Vikings did get some really good values with some of their picks in the 2015 NFL Draft, as well as some of the undrafted free agents they've reportedly picked up. Let's do a Top 5 of the best draft pick values for the Vikings, making use of Arif's Final Consensus Big Board over at Vikings Territory. His board is a combination of over 40 "big boards" from draftniks across the internet, and it goes about 300 players deep. . .seems like a pretty good basis to go off of.
With that, let's take a look.
1) T.J. Clemmings, OL, Pittsburgh
Clemmings was selected by the Vikings with the 110th overall pick, but was rated 27th on the Consensus Big Board. He was rated as a late first/early second round pick in just about every mock draft I saw going into the draft, including our Daily Norseman Community Mock Draft (where he went #25 to the Carolina Panthers) and our SB Nation Blogger Mock Draft (where he went #20 to the Philadelphia Eagles). He's only been playing on the offensive line for two years, having gone to Pitt as a defensive end. His foot injury. . .which he says is "non-existent". . .caused him to fall to the top of Round 4, and he could end up starting at either of the Vikings' tackle positions sooner rather than later.
2) Anthony Harris, S, Virginia
The Vikings managed to snag Harris in the post-draft UDFA signing frenzy. He was the 117th player on the Consensus Big Board, and for a lot of the pre-draft process was considered one of the top safeties available (in an admittedly weak class). I purchased two draft magazines this year, one from Athlon and one from Lindy's, and they both had him rated as the #3 safety in this draft class, behind Alabama's Landon Collins and Mississippi's Cody Prewitt (who also, surprisingly, went undrafted). They both have him listed as a strong safety type, and with the spot across from Harrison Smith being wide open, Harris might have an opportunity to make some noise.
3) Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA
As far as value relative to the Consensus Big Board, this isn't a super huge steal compared to Clemmings or Harris. . .Kendricks was the 25th player on the Big Board, and the Vikings got him at #45 overall. However, as far as filling a need, this may have been the best pick the Vikings made over the three days of the draft. Mike Zimmer's defense needed a middle linebacker, and they got the best one in the draft in Kendricks. He should step in and start from Day One, and will be a true three-down linebacker, pairing with his old college teammate Anthony Barr at the second level. At the risk of sounding a little too excited, I don't think a run at Defensive Rookie of the Year is out of the question for Kendricks, if he stays healthy.
4) Tyrus Thompson, OT, Oklahoma
Thompson was #137 on the Consensus Big Board, and the Vikings managed to grab him at 185. That's pretty good value for a guy that was the left tackle on the All-Big 12's First Team in 2014. There are questions about his work ethic, concerns that he says are unfounded, and if the Vikings can get him to give his full effort all the time, he clearly has the talent to succeed. As we mentioned with Clemmings, the Vikings' offensive line could be in some serious flux in the near future. . .Matt Kalil is regressing, Phil Loadholt isn't getting any younger, and there are issues at left guard. Thompson, if properly motivated, could be the answer to one of those spots (as could Clemmings).
5) Danielle Hunter, EDGE, LSU
Hunter, the 64th player on the Consensus Big Board, was taken by the Vikings with the 88th pick (after two trade downs in the third round). Yes, he didn't put up a lot of quarterbacks sacks in college, but he's already solid against the run. . .and, honestly, we've all seen the pictures by now. The guy looks like he can bench press your car. After the pick was made, Mike Mayock said that if Hunter had gone back to school next year (he declared a year early) that he would have been a shot to be a first round pick. He may be a bit like Scott Crichton, a guy who came out a year before he probably should have but has the potential to be a solid player in the defense. Crichton has had his "redshirt" year. . .it wouldn't surprise me to see Hunter get one this year, though Hunter could probably make a big impact on special teams early on.
Honorable Mention - Taylor Heinicke, QB, Old Dominion
This was a very weak quarterback class, with quarterbacks going first and second overall and the next signal caller not coming off the board until the fourth round. Only seven quarterbacks were selected in the entire draft. Heinicke didn't show up on Arif's Big Board, but Athlon had him as the 8th-ranked quarterback in this class, while Athlon having him ranked 10th. He's a very good athlete, becoming the 18th player in NCAA Division I history to pass for over 10,000 yards and run for 1,000 for ODU. He was also the recipient of the 2012 Walter Payton Award, which is given to the best player at the FCS level. The Vikings' "developmental quarterback" spot behind Teddy Bridgewater and Shaun Hill on the depth chart is there for the taking, and Heinicke has the accuracy to serve as a solid backup quarterback after he gets some seasoning.
That's what I have, folks. What do you think the Vikings' best "value" picks or pick-ups were?