As Eric pointed out in his article from earlier today, only three teams in the National Football League have had more selections over the past five NFL Drafts than the Minnesota Vikings have. They’ve also drafted more defensive players than any other NFL team during that stretch, and that’s reflected in the fact that they now have a solid young defense that should be this team’s calling card for at least the next few years.
Now, it’s time for the Vikings to start taking their offensive line rebuild with that same level of seriousness.
Rick Spielman joined the Minnesota Vikings just after the 2006 NFL Draft. While he hasn’t been the lone personnel voice during that entire stretch, he’s played a role in how the team has been constructed during that time. Now, courtesy of our incredibly helpful database of every Vikings’ draft pick ever made, here are all of the offensive line selections that the Vikings have made during that stretch, broken down by round.
Round 1 - Matt Kalil (2012)
Round 2 - Phil Loadholt (2009)
Round 3 - None
Round 4 - T.J. Clemmings (2015), Willie Beavers (2016)
Round 5 - Chris DeGeare (2010), David Yankey (2014)
Round 6 - John Sullivan (2008), DeMarcus Love (2011), Brandon Fusco (2011), Jeff Baca (2013), Tyrus Thompson (2015)
Round 7 - Travis Bond (2013), Austin Shepherd (2015)
The Vikings drafted no offensive linemen in 2007.
So, in the 10 drafts since Rick Spielman joined the Minnesota front office, the team has drafted 13 offensive linemen (which seems like a ridiculously low number). Of those 13 players, only two would be considered first or second day picks under the current format. The offensive line was the Vikings’ biggest concern going into last year’s draft as well, and they responded with. . .Willie Beavers.
To use investment terminology, the Vikings have been trying to build their offensive line by investing in penny stocks for most of the Spielman era, and the results have been a pretty spectacular failure. Of the 11 players that would fall under the heading of third day picks under the current draft format, only Sullivan and Fusco could be considered viable NFL offensive linemen, and Fusco’s stock has plummeted faster than D.B. Cooper over the past couple of seasons.
One of the mocks we saw yesterday has the Vikings taking offensive linemen with their first three picks in this year’s draft, which would exceed the number of first or second day picks this team has spent on offensive linemen in the last ten drafts combined. It may seem like an awfully extreme remedy, particularly if the Vikings make an Alex Boone-type of signing in free agency, but really. . .the Vikings don’t have a whole lot of other concerns. Sure, they need another linebacker, a running back, and some defensive tackle depth, but none of those positions hold nearly the level of concern that the offensive line does for this team.
If this team wants to get serious about winning football games again, they need to start investing much more heavily in the offensive line, and they need to start doing it before the final day of the draft.