With the Vikings making the trade for Sam Bradford just before the regular season began last year, the team finds themselves without a first round draft pick for the first time since the 2010 draft. The final verdict on the trade has yet to be written, but one of the pieces of evidence that will be used in passing judgement will be this draft, and how it pans out.
Barring any trades, the first selection the Vikings have will be the 16th pick in the second round, or the 48th overall. So, who's been drafted in that spot, and how has that worked out? Let's take a look at recent NFL history going back to 2010, to see how this pick has done in the NFL.
2016: Jason Spriggs, T, Green Bay: Spriggs played in 12 of 16 games, and although his PFF grade was just a 45.7, it's too early to determine how his career will turn out.
2015: Denzel Perryman, LB, San Diego: Perryman has started 20 of 26 games and has become an important starter for the Chargers. He's become a starter and seems to be one of the players on the verge of a breakout.
Verdict: TBD, but looks good
2014: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Baltimore: Jernigan has become one of the better interior defensive linemen in the NFL in three short seasons, and has developed into a good run stopper. Earlier this month, though, the Ravens traded Jernigan and their 3rd round compensatory pick to Philadelphia for Philly's third round pick.
Verdict: Solid player
2013: Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh: Bell has had a pretty non-descript career to this point. That is, of course, if you think becoming the best running back in the NFL is non-descript. He finished 2nd in the NFL in rushing in 2014, and 5th last year, despite missing the first four games of the season due to a suspension. The only thing about Bell that worries people is his continued flirtation with illegal substances, which caused his four game suspension. Still, he's one heck of a player.
Verdict: Home run.
2012: Tavon Wilson, DB, New England: Wilson had a really solid rookie season for the Patriots in 2012, snaring four picks while playing CB and safety. But for whatever reason, he couldn't build off of that, left the Patriots after 2015, and signed with the Lions in 2016 hoping to get his rookie season mojo back. He started 14 games for the Lions and had two interceptions, but his career has been uneventful, for the most part.
2011: Stefen Wisinewski, C, Oakland: Wisinewski has been with three teams in the last three seasons, but overall he's been a solid player in the NFL, starting 83 games at center for the Raiders and Jaguars before injuries shortened his season with Philadelphia last year.
2010: Jimmy Clausen, QB, Carolina: Drafted to be their QB of the future in 2010, Clausen made such an impression that the Panthers used the first overall pick the next season on QB Cam Newton. Clausen has a 'qb winz' record of 1-13, hasn't completed 60% of his passes, and has twice as many career interceptions than he does TD passes.
As to whether or not the Vikings have had any recent picks at spot 48, the answer is yes. In 2006, they drafted CB Cedric Griffin at that spot, and he was developing into a solid CB until consecutive ACL injuries in 2009 and 2010 on both knees pretty much ended his career. In 2004, Minnesota drafted LB Dontarrious Thomas at spot 48 in 2004. Thomas never really got it going for the Vikings, who they expected to develop into a starter.
What can we take away from this? For one, there are very good players available at this spot, and recent history suggests that they can be found at positions the Vikings have a need at--running back, offensive line, and defensive line. But if you pick the wrong player, like the Panthers did with Clausen in 2010, you're going to have to use another, possibly higher draft pick, on the same position very soon.
There's added pressure on the Vikings to get this one right. With no first round pick, and a team that seems close to challenging for the NFC North, a good draft can put them over the top. A bad draft, and it's logical to ask if GM Rick Spielman's job is safe.
Of course, this is assuming the Vikings even stay at this spot and pick. Spielman is known for wheeling and dealing on draft day, so anything could happen. And with extra picks in both rounds three and four, I expect Minnesota to be active traders on draft weekend.