Over the past few years, the Minnesota Vikings have had a lot of pretty solid draft picks, including some very good ones that have happened on the second and third days of the NFL Draft. A handful of those picks have been named to be among the biggest steals of the past decade.
Behind the great E$PN paywall, Matt Miller and Jordan Reid have racked and stacked what they believe to be the 50 biggest draft steals of the past decade. . .excluding first rounders. . .and listed them for everyone’s reading pleasure. Four players that were selected by the Vikings are on the list, even though two of them are no longer with the team.
The highest-ranking Vikings pick on the list is one of those players that has moved on, as wide receiver Stefon Diggs is #7 on their list.
Diggs came to Maryland as a highly touted recruit, but he struggled to break out as a Terrapin and battled injuries that pushed him down to Round 5 in the 2015 draft. But first with the Vikings and now with the Bills, Diggs has been that promising player as a pro. An explosive, dynamic threat with the ball in his hands, Diggs is an All-Pro-caliber receiver and a true WR1. He has never had fewer than 720 receiving yards in a season, is coming off his fifth-straight 1,000-yard campaign and led the NFL with 1,535 yards in 2020.
A little further down we find our first current Viking. . .though depending on who you believe that status may be iffy. Yes, it’s defensive end/outside linebacker Danielle Hunter, who comes in at #30.
Hunter had just 4.5 total sacks during his three-year LSU career, as his production did not match his high-level traits. But things clicked in the pros, as he became the youngest player in NFL history to record 50 sacks. Hunter is a menace off of the edge and is considered a top-10 player at the position.
A couple of spots behind Hunter is another (now) former Viking, as running back Dalvin Cook checks in at #35.
There was no doubting Cook’s talent coming out of Florida State — he averaged north of 1,700 rushing yards over his final two years there — but he had some off-field legal issues and shoulder injuries in college. He then tore the ACL in his left knee as a rookie in 2017 but has now put together four straight 1,000-yard seasons. When healthy, he has been among the game’s best backs.
Last, but not least, offensive tackle Brian O’Neill makes the list at #49.
O’Neill was a work in progress coming out of Pitt with good foot speed but poor play power and lower-body technique. The Vikings gave him the tools to develop, and he has emerged as one of the top right tackles in the league since becoming a starter midway through his rookie season.
Now, the fact that Miller and Reid didn’t include first-round picks precludes them, obviously, from putting Justin Jefferson on the list. Honestly, I think he’d still be considered a steal given that he was the fifth player taken at his position in the 2020 NFL Draft, but it’s not my list and not my criteria.
Who do you think is the biggest Vikings draft steal of the last decade, folks?