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2017 NFL Draft: Lots of options and questions remain for Vikings

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The Vikings didn’t make a pick on Thursday night, but there were still a lot of takeaways heading into Round 2.

NFL: 2017 NFL Draft
“BOOOOOOOOOOOO”
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As expected, the Minnesota Vikings had a quiet opening night of the 2017 NFL Draft. They went in with no first round pick and they left with no first round pick. The Vikings made exactly zero moves on Day 1, so they enter Friday with the same group of eight picks.

But while Minnesota was forced to remain idle, the rest of the league went wild on Thursday night. Like a man quietly sipping a soda water watching a drunken brawl unfold on the other side of the bar, Vikings fans watched while other teams made more deals than a shady senator. So even though there aren’t any new Vikings players to talk about, we were still able to learn quite a bit on Thursday night. For instance:

The Sam Bradford trade wasn’t so bad.

Yes, I know that Ted already touched on this. Yes, I know that some of you think we here at Daily Norseman are only defending the Bradford trade to get clicks. With the ridiculous bounties that the Bears (Mitchell Trubisky), Chiefs (Patrick Mahomes), and Texans (Deshaun Watson) gave up for unproven quarterbacks that have yet to take an NFL snap, doesn’t what the Vikings gave up for Bradford—on very short notice just days before the season—seem relatively better in retrospect? The Bears gave up a third-and fourth-round pick this year and another third next year to move up exactly one spot. Kansas City sent a third this year and their first in 2018 to Buffalo. The Texans, who already gave the Browns a 2018 second rounder to get rid of Brock Osweiler, gave Cleveland their 2018 first rounder for Watson.

This isn’t to say that the Bradford trade is unassailable. Giving up two very valuable draft picks for a quarterback that has been pretty middle-of-the-road throughout his career is bound to draw some valid criticism. But to see what these teams gave up for players with zero NFL experience versus what the Vikings paid for a viable commodity sort of puts things in perspective.

Last night reiterated one of the most steadfast truths in today’s NFL: quality quarterbacks are the scarcest resource in the league. Last night, three teams just took huge gambles in hopes of finding one. And I still like the Vikings’ odds on their gamble more than any of those teams.

There was value on the defensive side of the ball.

With the early run of quarterbacks and wide receivers, there was a lot of great value on the defensive side of the ball in the the first round. Jonathan Allen to the Redskins, Jamal Adams to the Jets, Marshon Lattimore to the Saints, and Reuben Foster to the 49ers (assuming his medical status is OK) stood out as excellent value picks for players that were projected to go higher. The second half of the first round seemed to balance things out—11 of the last 16 players taken on Thursday were defenders—but there is undoubtedly a lot of talent on both sides of the ball heading into Day 2. Which is good because...

The Vikings will have some excellent options still available to them at 48.

Round 1 went crazier than most people expected, which means there are a handful of players still out there with high draft grades. According to Arif’s consensus big board, here are the remaining players from the top 32:

12 Dalvin Cook
17 Forrest Lamp
24 Cam Robinson
25 Malik McDowell
31 Budda Baker

The fact that two of those remaining five are offensive linemen—combined with the fact that only two linemen were drafted on Thursday, and none until the 20th pick—says a lot about the quality of the O-line in this draft. Still, the fact that there are still so many options for the Vikings is great, right? Well...

There are a lot of offensive linemen left on the board, but don’t expect them to last long on Friday.

Seattle did their seemingly annual trade out of the first round, but one would think that they would eventually have to bolster their line with the 34th overall pick on Friday night. There are still lots of OL-needy teams in front of the Vikings at 48. Don’t just assume one of the top remaining linemen will fall into the Vikings’ laps if they don’t trade up. I would expect an early line run to start Day 2 in Philadelphia, since most of the emphasis was on playmakers Thursday. And speaking of playmakers...

Some of the opposing passing attacks the Vikings will face in 2017 just got a lot better.

The Buccaneers, the Vikings’ Week 3 opponent, landed O.J. Howard to go with Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson. The Bengals, who the Vikings host on December 17, got John Ross to compliment A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert. The Browns spent most of the night bolstering their defense, but they got David Njoku to catch passes from...uh, a quarterback to be named later...against the Vikings in London. Heck, maybe Trubisky will even make the Bears attack more dangerous by their Week 5 Monday Night Football matchup. (Naahhhh.) I know the offense is the main concern for a lot of us, but the Vikings could stand to add some defensive reinforcements in the draft to help counteract some of the new toys their 2017 opponents picked up. But what about the Vikings’ most common opponents?

Vikings fans should like what their NFC North rivals did Thursday night.

Jarrad Davis is a solid player at a need position for Detroit, but the Lions taking him over Foster is crazy unless the medical concerns scared them off. As of right now I’m glad Foster is in San Francisco instead of the NFC North. And of course the ridiculous haul the Bears gave up to move up one spot for a guy that started only 13 games in college has been the most lambasted move of Day 1. The Packers picked as many times as the Vikings did in Round 1. Green Bay’s move may have been better for them in the long run and they still hold the excellent bargaining chip of the first pick of the second round. But based on Thursday night alone, none of the moves the Vikings’ division rivals made should cause too much consternation.

That said, it’s now the Vikings’ turn to pick tonight, and we’ll all be anxious to see how everything unfolds for Rounds 2 and 3. With so many key names left on the board, do they scramble to move up and make sure they get their guy?

Don’t be afraid to let the draft come to you.

I don’t think an early trade will happen. We know that Rick Spielman loves stockpiling as many picks as possible. He treats his draft picks like I treat my phone battery percentage—once it dips below double digits, we’re a wreck. Unless they’re really enamored with someone like Lamp, Robinson, or maybe even McDowell, trading up is going to be hard to do. Some of our favorite names left will undoubtedly be taken between 33-47 tonight, but there will still be plenty of viable options there at 48 regardless of how things pan out. We have already had to be patient for 24 hours—what’s another hour or two this evening? Either way, one final takeaway is certain:

Friday is going to be a lot more fun than Thursday.

We’re almost certainly going to get new players tonight! Real, live bodies that will don real, live purple jerseys in the coming months! Hooray! So while we’re here, here is my personal ranking of the live bodies I hope the Vikings add in the second round:

  1. Lamp
  2. McDowell
  3. Robinson
  4. Baker
  5. Dan Feeney
  6. Zach Cunningham
  7. Cook
  8. Joe Mixon

Note: I put the running backs lower because I think there will still be plenty of good options at the position in Round 3. (Perhaps Alvin Kamara or D’Onta Foreman?) But feel free to pick that list apart as you see fit.

I’ll be back at Winter Park this evening to cover everything involving the Vikings draft, including conference calls with any players the team picks on Friday.