For those of you that aren’t golf fans, today is the first day of The Masters (which, as we’ve heard, is a tradition like no other.™) It also gives the folks from Bristol an opportunity to introduce a golfing term when talking about football.
Behind the great E$PN paywall, the folks from Pro Football Focus gave each of the 32 NFL teams a “mulligan” on one of their selections from the 2016 NFL Draft, with the benefit of knowing what we know now. While I’m certain that a lot of Minnesota Vikings fans would like a do over on first round pick Laquon Treadwell (even though it’s way too freaking early to consider him a bust), that’s not the direction that ESPN went.
Instead, they used the Vikings’ mulligan on their fourth round selection, offensive lineman Willie Beavers. In his place, they selected offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who played his college ball at Texas Christian and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fifth round.
The Vikings badly needed offensive line help in the draft, and though there wasn't a whole lot of that outside of the first round, Vaitai (Round 5, pick 164) improved dramatically during his stretch starting for a suspended Lane Johnson in Philadelphia, and was holding his own as a starter during the second half of his playing time. In two of his final three games, he earned impressive run-blocking grades and had cut down his struggles in pass protection.
While it was pretty universally agreed upon that Beavers was a bad selection at the time, people may have viewed Vaitai as an afterthought. But, as the ESPN piece says, Vaitai improved quite a bit as the season went on, and is now set to be a contributor on the Eagles’ line full-time.
They bring up an interesting question, though. . .if you could do one of the Vikings’ picks from the 2016 draft over again, which one would it be and who would you pick? Obviously, you’d only be able to consider players that were still on the board when those selections were made, so here’s the complete 2016 NFL Draft for you to use as a reference.