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First Round Draft Thoughts as a Vikings Fan

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NFL: 2017 NFL Draft Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 NFL draft is only hours away, and there are plenty of rumors and smokescreens flying around out there- most of little interest to Vikings fans, as the Vikings used their 1st round pick to acquire Sam Bradford last year - something the Philadelphia faithful are thanking the Vikings for today:

Looking back at last year and how Bradford performed for the Vikings, and considering the top QB prospects in this year’s draft- which the Vikings would be “Pondering” if they hadn’t made that trade last year, and the Bradford trade is looking better and better. A win for both sides.

Be that as it may, there are some things for us Vikings fans to look for, which could help provide some insight into the most important day two of the draft, where the Vikings have their top 3 picks.

Who Drops Out of the First Round

More important than who is drafted tonight for Vikings fans, is who isn’t drafted. Recent disclosures have made formerly sure-to-go first round picks like Jabrill Peppers, Gareon Conley, and Reuben Foster suddenly not so sure. Add to that potential first-round talents like Joe Mixon, Malik McDowell- maybe even Dalvin Cook- who have some known clouds hanging over them, and there could be some intriguing prospects for the Vikings to consider tomorrow night.

Poor First-Round Picks

Another factor that could send more first-round talent to the second round are poor draft picks, in particular, overdrafting QBs. Every year it happens, even in poor QB draft classes like this one. Teams looking to address a QB need will prioritize that need over other quality players and pick a QB in the first- round that isn’t a first-round talent. I’m not sure there are any QBs that really qualify as first-round talents this year, but nevertheless the current over/under on QBs taken tonight is 3.5. I’m taking the over, as I think 4 QBs will be taken tonight- Trubisky, Mahomes, Watson, Kizer - maybe even Webb- which would make 5. As Vikings fans, the more the merrier- as it sends more first-round talent dropping into round two. There’s usually one or two surprise picks as well - guys not thought to go in the first round, but some team has them high on their board and is willing to overdraft some to get them.

Of course there could be a pick or two that upsets the apple cart for the Vikings as well, if, for example, a team picks Joe Mixon in round one, which combined with Fournette, McCaffrey and Cook going in round one, could lead to an early run on RBs, which would not be helpful for the Vikings, who are looking to add a top RB prospect, even though the RB draft class is thought to be deeper than normal this year.

Another position group that could be overdrafted this year is offensive linemen. It’s not a good year for OL prospects, and with a weak class, teams may prioritize their OL needs higher, as quality prospects dwindle significantly after the first few in each OL position. My guess is that will some of the top defensive picks having some clouds over them, one or two more OL picks will be made tonight, which will leave fewer to pick from for the Vikings tomorrow night.

What Teams Picking Ahead of the Vikings Do

Every team has multiple needs to address in the draft, and what needs the teams picking ahead of the Vikings tomorrow night choose to address this evening will narrow the possibilities for their day two picks. That could help give some insight into what first-round talent that dropped out of the first-round may still be available for the Vikings at #48, and it also may help determine which teams may attempt to snag a prospect high on the Vikings board before #48 - and potentially teams who may attempt to leapfrog the Vikings in round two or three to get a pick high on their board.

Of most concern (at least to me) is the running back position. Right now, their are three RBs expected to go in the first round- Fournette, McCaffrey and Cook. Assuming that is the case, what teams ahead of the Vikings tomorrow may prioritize a RB with their 2nd round pick. The Bengals have shown some interest in Mixon- will they go there at #41? If so, will the Eagles, who pick #43, go with Alvin Kamara- a RB they’ve shown interest in along with the Vikings?

My view of the RBs in this draft class is after the top 5, there is a drop off in overall quality, with guys like Kareem Hunt, D’Onta Foreman, and Samaje Perine in the 2nd tier. I don’t see these guys being as good a fit in Pat Shurmur’s offense, or as dynamic as the top tier, so I’m keeping my eye on this position group more than others.

Depending on what happens tonight, the Vikings may huddle and consider trading up some in the 2nd round if they feel a top prospect is a threat to be picked ahead of them tomorrow night.

Trades

There could also be some trades tonight that may effect the 2nd and 3rd round lineup. The Vikings aren’t likely to be a part of any trades, but they could be impacted by them positively or negatively if teams with similar needs suddenly pop in ahead of them tomorrow night- or are replaced with teams that don’t.

In particular, teams like Philadephia and Cincinnati come to mind. There is an outside chance the Eagles may attempt to trade up for Christian McCaffrey, but I’m not hearing anything about the Bengals.

One other team of interest: Cleveland. There are plenty of rumors that Cleveland may attempt to move up to get Mitch Trubisky, which would likely involve at least one of their 2nd round picks, and possibly their 3rd round pick. Cleveland could be a possible trade partner with the Vikings in the 2nd or 3rd rounds (up or down), so what the Browns do tonight could impact that. One possible trade with the Browns could potentially involve Jarius Wright, as the Browns need a slot receiver, and at least last year the Vikings were rumored to have Wright on the trading block. That would make the Vikings that much thinner at the WR position, but perhaps they value another pick higher- maybe for a guy like Curtis Samuel. Anyway, something to bear in mind.

Overall

But, if there had to be a year when the Vikings didn’t have a first-round pick, this was not a bad year to be without one. Maybe I think that way because the Vikings don’t have one, but looking down the list of top prospects, I see many potentially solid starters, but few high-impact players. I also think the drop-off in quality in position groups important to the Vikings this year isn’t so steep, with the exception of the offensive line group. I also think there is some value in the late rounds, with guys like Dylan Bradley (DT) and Minnesota-grown Jonah Pirsig (RT) as guys that could eventually become quality starters as Day 3 picks.

In any case, I can see how some teams like the Patriots and Seahawks often trade out of their first round picks to land more in the 2nd, 3rd, and later rounds- which can sometimes yield quality starters too. The Vikings starting WRs are a case in point.

It would be nice to have a first-round pick, don’t get me wrong, but I certainly wouldn’t want to have a huge QB need to go along with it in this draft class- which would have been the case without the Bradford trade last year- and I’m optimistic that the Vikings later-round picks could land some quality starters like Diggs and Hunter in the past couple years.

Poll

Which first-round prospect to you most want to fall to the 2nd round?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Malik McDowell
    (63 votes)
  • 27%
    Jabrill Peppers
    (140 votes)
  • 26%
    Dalvin Cook
    (132 votes)
  • 0%
    Gareon Conley
    (4 votes)
  • 8%
    Reuben Foster
    (42 votes)
  • 24%
    Someone Else
    (124 votes)
505 votes total Vote Now