As I stated before the draft started, a Mixon-Elflein 1-2 punch (no pun intended) was attainable, and would constitute a successful draft - all else would be gravy. (A bit of a lumpy gravy, perhaps, with too many clumps of 7th-rounders, but...)
I took Dalvin Cook off of my board because I thought he was unattainable without a 1st round pick to trade up from. If Mixon-Elflein would have represented a KO win, Cook-Elflein is a curb-stomp!
The Vikes now need only a starting deep-threat WR to emerge and the now-onboard OLine personnel to gel as a group to have a shot at worst-to-first with their offense. Likely they won't literally get the recognition for this from stats, because the quality of this new offense will be measured more by TOP than total points or yards (or by red-zone conversions, 3rd down efficiency, etc), but the label of MUCH IMPROVED is well within reach from all of these off-season moves.
Very impressive draft, to my eyes.
Initial trade-ups: A
Brilliant use of extra picks to accomplish key goals. Exceeding all of my expectations. Well done, Rick and Co.
Later trade-downs: D
The question I have about trading down out of the target-rich mid-rounds of this draft for four round 7s:
If all of these late-round picks were worth forgoing higher-round talent, then what makes you think you can park them on the practice squad? If not, was that not just squandered opportunity?
Unless I am greatly mistaken about the stage of the Vikings rebuilding / retooling process (ie have they truly turned into the new Cleveland Browns?), then 11 draft picks are not going to all make the 53 in a few months (especially not with all of the FA additions).
Generally, scatter-gun works well for quantity, not quality. For rebuilding. The last refinements to a team's roster as they become competitive needs to come from cherry-picking. If Spielman really believes his own rhetoric "we believe in our scouting team that much [that they can find starters in round 7]", then 11 picks will result in an embarrassment of riches.
Time will tell.
There is an old Buddhist expression: "Just because you needed the raft to cross the river, doesn't mean that you need to carry it on your back on your way up the mountain."
R2 Dalvin Cook: A+
Unbelievable. I didn't think they could get him at that price. Mid 1st round would have been an A grade. I was hoping for Mixon (available because of his fall from grace - caught on video, no less), but Cook is a better fit for the Vikings run-first complementary football offense.
R3 C Pat Elflein: A
Elflein was not the best OL in the draft this year, but he may very well have been the best schematic fit in a position of need for the Vikings this year. His on-field toughness and people-moving-skills at the point of attack will well enable the resurgent running game.
Though I had believed that he might fill in at guard initially, and work his way in to a COTF role, Zimmer has already gone on record that he will start at Center. A Reiff / Berger / Elflein / Boone / Remmers lineup looks very promising to me.
R4 DT Jaleel Johnson B
It is hard to gauge what the need for DT really was before this draft:
Sharrif Floyd's medical status is still unknown, Datone Jones' effectiveness at 3-tech still up in the air, lots of contracts at loose-ends, but as likely a short-term over-abundance as long-term need.
When need is unclear, one can at least agree that there might be a need for depth, and depth from the 4th round is reasonable in this case.
Though universally recognized for his inside pass-rushing skills, scouts and analysts have questioned his run-stopping ability in the NFL.
Zimmer specifically praised him as a run-stopper, so perhaps he is more than rotational / sub-package depth.
Good thing in the 4th round - would otherwise be expensive as a backup.
Benefit of the doubt here to go from "C" to "B", but it reduces risk at DT going forward anyway.
R4 ILB Ben Gedeon D
Has the potential to be the next Audie Cole...
That is my most positive spin, anyway. Oh, and the Vikes needed LBs, so it is good they got one.
Yeah, that too.
To be fair, there was a bit of an unexpected run on LBs in this draft, and many went higher than expected. So the Vikes may have been victim of a squeeze play, in that regard.
Still, would like to see a higher-ceiling in the 4th round from the Vikings at this stage
Instead, this pick had the feel of a "position pick" - ie "we need to take a linebacker in this round". If so, a trade down to get Anthony Walker would have made more sense to me.
Better yet, trade some of those extra 7s up to get Alex Anzalone. There weren't many other options for LB, though, given the rest of the draft situation. And Anzalone has medical issues.
Gedeon could definitely have value as a run-stop specialist, but unless the Vikes are planning to play from behind a lot this year, hard to see offensive snaps at Mike if you can't cover.
R5 WR Rodney Adams B
Good News: VERY good fit with main remaining role-specific need: "Deep Threat Receiver"
Bad News: He's a dropper.
Winner of this year's Sanchez Award... (Most fumbles per touch.)
Hopefully, the bad news is coachable.
If so, upgrade the pick to an "A" - (what do you expect from Round 5 in a WR? Stefon Diggs?).
Bonus: may be a good candidate for KR... (not if he keeps putting the rock on the ground, though).
R5 G Danny Isidora B
Solid competition for back-up interior line competition.
With Berger getting long in the tooth, Isidora addresses a long-term need: Now that the current starting lineup is covered, need more interior linemen than will be kept on the roster to compete for back-up role.
Will be a big competition to see who is still on the 53 in that position group.
May be "drafting for the practice squad" at this point, but (IMO) R5 is a reasonable gamble at this point for a shot at a future starting guard.
Still, there remain a lot of "hopefuls" to sift through...
R6 TE Bucky Hodges A
The big-boards couldn't seem to decide if he would go in the 3rd or the 6th, and neither could I.
I liked him in either the 4th or 5th round.
Loved him in the 6th.
Well done. A potential rookie impact player in the 6th round is an auto-A-grade, in my book, TE, tweener-WR, or no.
I can see Shurmur using 12 personnel sets in more sits this year with Hodges on board, especially if the WR group isn’t fixed. (I am not sure that I see the immediate need for deep-threat solved yet in this off-season.)
Even though he doesn’t have the run-blocking skills of Kittle, for example, by getting target-rich 12 personnel sets on the field more often, he could have greater immediate impact on both the rushing and passing games, by making play-action more effective.
Hopefully the blocking skills are coachable.
R7 WR Stacy Coley C
He definitely looks like a Round 7 flyer - if the spark lights, the blaze will be brilliant. He could play an important role in fixing a broken offense.
Otherwise, it will lead to the usual questions about too many late-round choices with a crowded 53.
How many WR "developmentals" do the Vikes need?
As one overseas commenter put it: "With draft choices like these, MoBo might actually make the team."
R7 DL Ifeadi Odenigbo B
Much as Danielle Hunter's production was opposite his potential in college (great run-stuffer, virtually no pass-rush), despite delivering a higher QB pressure rate than Taco Charleton, I see Odenigbo cast in an opposite role - run-stopping DT, who just happens to have a good bull rush. Rick reportedly has him as a DE. Zimmer, maybe not.
I believe that he is eventually cast as a highly coachable 3-tech developmental, and, if so, is an excellent ZFense "tweener" fit, with starter potential even.
Not bad for Round 7.
R7 LB Elijah Lee A
Was on my board from the beginning. Could be excellent in a Tweener role, too.
I liked him in Round 6. Solid pick in Round 7.
Follow up with Hardy Nickerson in UDFA and my Tweener-LB joy is complete.
R7 S Jack Tocho B
Jack who? ("You don't know Jack!")
No, I don't. Completely under my radar.
Update: Well, I was right about SOMETHING, at least - I had no idea!
Tocho was drafted as a safety. Once I saw tape on him, it seemed bloody obvious - I am watching an S, not a CB. Went to double-check scouting report at nfl.com, and Mark Dulgerian has already updated with Draft Analysis with the same conclusion. Also, mockdraftable.com's spider charts tell the same story. Stands an excellent chance of becoming that "other safety" that knows where he is supposed to be, and when. Bonus: he can even make a play on the ball when it gets there. I would not be too surprised if he wins the starting role by mid season. I am more confident in my "B" grade now. (Except it should become an A, if it pans out.)
The Vikings version of "Mr. Irrelevant?". Perhaps.
A bit slow (4.54 40) for a Zimmer corner, as I see it, but smart and quick to see patterns (and presumably a Zimmer-approved pick).
Might make an excellent slot corner. Not as NFL-ready as Corn Elder (IMO), but cheaper.
OTOH, he is as fast as Richard Sherman (aka "slow")...
Who am I to argue with the CB whisperer"? Am just glad that he has another developmental CB to coach. Vikes should be drafting at least one CB every year, for that if nothing else.
Other R7 options could have been:
WR KD Cannon - If going "shotgun" on deep-threat WRs, why not?
LB Hardy Nickerson - 4th round talent, undrafted as "tweener" LB - could be 10cB specialist
Perhaps we see them in UDFA...
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