In recent seasons, Minnesota Vikings GM Rick Spielman has received kudos around here (for the most part) on draft weekend. His aggressive trades up in the early rounds, and savvy (if sometimes maddening) maneuvering in later rounds have netted players that the consensus of folks tend to really like.
This year, though, the reception to this year’s draft class has been more...um...muted. The general theme is ‘the Vikings didn’t take an interior offensive lineman right away. Ergo, everything sucks and just let the meteor hit and give me the sweet release of death.’
Mind you, this was a team that went 13-3 and made it to the NFC Championship game...but I digress. When the takes are hot, the takes are hot.
I’ll explain the ‘why’ down below, but I’m not seeing the doom and gloom many of you are right now. And maybe the Vikings didn’t take the guy you thought they should, or your big board didn’t match the NFL GM’s big board (that’s always a good complaint), but now, it doesn’t matter. If you can’t be with the draft class you love, love the one you’re with. Isn’t that right, Mr.Stills?
If you’re down and confused
And you don’t remember who you’re talking to
Concentration slip away
Because Billy Price is a Bengal today
Well, there’s a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can’t be with the one you love, honey
Love the one you’re with
Love the one you’re with
Love the one you’re with
Love the one you’re with
The ‘we don’t need to put lipstick on this pig because there is no pig’ SMR follows.
Blue Chip Stocks
Mike Hughes, CB: Admittedly, Hughes was a surprise pick for me. In the run up to the draft, every time I saw a mock that had a cornerback going to the Vikings I thought ‘HA what a dope no way they’re taking a guard or center that can play guard.’ Then the Vikings drafted Hughes and I thought ‘well, this is awkward’.
Two thoughts on this pick. For one, the Vikings have an absolute need at CB. We can argue whether or not CB is a bigger need than OL, but it is a need. Terence Newman has yet to come back and celebrate his 57th birthday by signing a contract for one more season, and Mackensie Alexander had his ups and downs last year. I think the Vikings exercise their fifth year option on Trae Waynes, but if they don’t, then the ‘RAWR RAWR CUT WAYNES AND DRAFT HIS REPLACEMENT RAWR RAWR’ crowd will get to crow a little more.
Secondly, other than maybe being an inch or two too short, Hughes seems like the perfect CB to play in Mike Zimmer’s defense. He’s a really good man cover guy, and I think it’s fair to say he’s going to get a fair shot to win the slot job. He can play inside and outside, and the Vikings are in a division where being able to defend the pass became even more of a premium this off-season. When you add in his ability as a kick returner, this pick is a good one and makes a lot of sense.
Tyler Conklin, TE: Conklin was a good value pick, and is a pretty good pass catcher at Central Michigan. I think he’ll complement Kyle Rudolph well, and with no proven pass catcher behind Rudolph currently on the roster, Conklin will have a legit shot to contribute early.
Jalyn Holmes, DE: HEY GUYS GUESS WHERE HOLMES WENT TO SCHOOL COME ON JUST TAKE A GUESS OKAY I’LL TELL YOU HE WENT TO OHIO STATE WOOOOOOOOO. Be that as it may, Holmes was the first day three pick for the Vikings, and a guy I’m really pumped about, alma mater aside. The Vikes are going to start him out as a three technique guy, but he can also play outside as well, and he was a really good EDGE player at OSU. He gives the defensive line a lot of depth and versatility, and I can see him assuming the Brian Robison ‘stand up on the inside or be kind of a floater guy’ role right away.
Colby Gossett, G: Gossett seems like a guy that has a solid chance to become a starter down the road, and his late round selection was pretty well received by all the draftniks. I think he gives the o-line some legitimate depth on the interior.
No one: As is our wont on the draft SMR, we give no junk bonds to any player selected. Whether you like a pick or not, eight talented young men and a slew of undrafted free agents have a chance to realize their boyhood dream of playing in the National Football League, and whether you’re Baker Mayfield or Mr. Irrelevant, just getting this opportunity is a hell of an achievement. Good luck to each and every one of you, and may your journey end up in Canton.
Buy: This was a ‘sleep on it’ draft for me. After the first two picks surprised me, I had to sleep on it to kind of get a feeling on how these guys really are. After thinking about things, and doing some research, I don’t think these picks are as bad as the message board and social media GM’s want me to believe. Both Hughes and Brian O’Neill fill needs for the Vikings, I strongly feel they’ll contribute early, and with good coaching (hint: the Vikings have it) they will both be good players.
Sell: Brian O’Neill sucks just because he’s a tackle from Pitt. Seriously, has there been a pick that’s had more ‘guilt by association’ than O’Neill? If you watch just a couple minutes of O’Neill on film and then compare him to T.J. Clemmings, there is no comparison. We can argue whether or not the Vikes screwed the pooch by not drafting a guard, and that’s going to be a discussion moving forward. But keep in mind that when you draft you not only draft for the present, but also the future. And neither Riley Reiff or Mike Remmers will be around forever. When they move on, I like the chances of O’Neill being able to step in and play well, it just may not be this year. And that’s not the end of the world. I mean, near as I can tell the reason most folks dislike O’Neill are:
1) He’s a tackle, not a guard.
2) He was taken in the second round, not the first.
3) He’s from Pitt, like T.J. Clemmings, and is going to wear #75, like Matt Kalil (I hope this is a troll job by O’Neill tbh).
Those are...reasons, I suppose.
Buy: Danny Isidora. Man, I love all the hot takes during the draft, and what I love more is how quickly we forget them from previous drafts. Last year, when I did my draft review, I said this about Isidora:
Of all the picks remaining, I think the best one that has a chance to contribute early is Danny Isidora. I’m not saying that because I expect a low grade nuclear weapon to be detonated on the Vikings offensive line again, but Isidora was graded out by a lot of sites to be a third round talent, and getting him as far back in the draft as the Vikings did could be a steal. Yes, I know we say that about every offensive lineman the Vikings draft in the late rounds. Yes, I know it almost never works out. Still, Isidora has talent, and if he can be developed, I can see him becoming a starting RG in a year or two, after Berger retires.
And not to toot my own horn, but that was a near universal opinion. And now here we are, with a distinct possibility that Isidora can slide into the starting RG job in the wake of Joe Berger’s retirement, and everyone is mad that the Vikings didn’t get a potential starting RG in the draft.
Will Isidora win the RG job? It remains to be seen, but when you factor in who was already on the roster coming in to the draft, then look at how the draft played out for the Vikings, the decisions the Vikings made make more sense.
Sell: The Vikings will get a free agent or convince Joe Berger to come back for one more year. The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that although the Vikes were looking to get a guard early, the draft board didn’t fall for them like they thought it would. I do believe they were going to pick either Billy Price or Frank Ragnow, but when they were drafted ahead of the Vikes, they let things unfold and went with what they had in terms of best players on their board, and didn’t reach for a guy they thought would be an ill fit in their system and blocking scheme. Um, you can do that when you have a really good roster and go 13-3, by the way. I think they feel comfortable enough with the guys they have on the roster, at least for now, and unless something happens this is the o-line they have moving forward. It may be a backup plan, but it’s not necessarily a bad backup plan.
Buy: The Vikings still have a hole at RG, at least for now. I’m not a social scientist, but I think the biggest reason folks that are disappointed with the class feel the way they do is because there was no definitive answer at RG when the draft ended. With that position being the only real hole in the Vikes offense, it’s a legitimate concern. But to say the cupboard is bare and there are no realistic options, like we saw in 2015-16, is disingenuous. They’ll have an answer by the end of training camp, of course. It’s just not the one a lot of fans were wanting to hear.
Sell: Move Mike Remmers to guard. At the end of last season, the Vikings moved RT Mike Remmers to LG after Nick Easton broke his ankle and made Rashod Hill the RT for the playoffs. The reasoning kind of made sense in that the Vikes said they wanted the five best athletes they had playing. But I said it then and I’ll say it again: I thought it was a bit of a panic move, and it made two spots on the offensive line worse. With the way the draft shook out, I’d really like to see Remmers back at RT, and let Isidora get the first crack at the RG job. If they do move Remmers inside, I imagine it would be at RG, and that would leave O’Neill and Hill to battle it out, I would imagine.
Grandson Quote Of The Week
So on day two of the draft, I was kidding around with my five year old grandson Grayson, who is in to super heroes, but not football just yet.
Me: So do you think the Vikings need to trade up or trade down in the draft tonight?
Grayson: Trade up.
Me: Really? That’s a bold move. Why?
Grayson: Well, aren’t the gooder players in the front?
Me: Well...yeah. Yeah they are.