A Die Hard’s Take On The Vikings Draft

Forgive me for not being a huge mock draft and pre-draft gossiper, I just don’t see the point in discussing hypotheticals. However, when it comes to grading the actual 2017 Minnesota Vikings draft, there’s a lot to discuss.

2017 Draft Picks

RD(PK) PLAYER POS SCHOOL
2(9) Dalvin Cook RB Florida State
3(6) Pat Elflein C Ohio State
4(2) Jaleel Johnson DT Iowa
4(14) Ben Gedeon ILB Michigan
5(27) Rodney Adams WR South Florida
5(37) Danny Isidora OG Miami (FL)
6(17) Bucky Hodges TE Virginia Tech
7(1) Stacy Coley WR Miami (FL)
7(2) Ifeadi Odenigbo DE Northwestern
7(14) Elijah Lee OLB Kansas State
7(27) Jack Tocho CB North Carolina State

  • For one, the Vikings should have drafted an offensive tackle. Tackle was undoubtedly still at the top of the team’s list of needs heading into the draft. Sure, they signed two tackles in free agency, but the team is still only one or two injuries away from seeing the worst lineman that’s ever played in the NFL, T.J. Clemmings, start again.
  • I’m disappointed the Vikings spent their top pick on a player with character concerns. My article on Joe Mixon made it quite clear that character matters when it comes to building a team. The trend of high-risk prospects dropping in the draft proves that NFL teams are beginning to realize this logic. Character is starting to be valued more (as it should), and it’s becoming more of a factor in the pre-draft process. Cook is very talented player, but the Vikings could have picked a better person to represent their organization.
  • The fact the Vikings drafted a Center with the 6th pick in round 3 shows that the team isn’t sold on Nick Easton. Easton didn’t develop into the force the Vikings hoped for after trading for him in 2015, but he provides the team with valuable flexibility and depth. He’ll likely back up Elflein at center with veteran Joe Berger sliding over to right guard this season. I predict the team’s long-term plan is to build the offensive line with young prospects from the inside out, starting this draft with Elflein at center.

  • Rick Spielman’s draft philosophy of creating position battles was in full force. Looking at the Vikings depth chart, it’s easy to see Spielman’s intent to create position battles this pre-season. While I may not fully agree with his philosophy, it’s been Spielman’s hallmark during his tenure as Vikings general manager. Stayed tuned for my article on why this strategy is contributing to the offensive line issues.

  • Overall, I give it a B+. It was a solid draft. The Vikings drafted some talented players and filled most of their positions of need. From Dalvin Cook to Danny Isidora to Bucky Hodges to Elijah Lee, Minnesota’s draft class may end up being one of the best under general manager Rick Spielman. They should have drafted another lineman, but if Cook is a Pro-Bowler, no one will care.
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NO TEAM Should Draft This 1st Round Talent

With the NFL draft beginning tomorrow, one controversial name keeps being linked to Minnesota.

Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon punched this woman so hard he broke 4 bones in her face.

By comparison, former Baltimore Raven running back Ray Rice still has not played in the NFL after video surfaced of him punching his soon-to-be wife in an Atlantic City casino elevator. Chances are Rice will never play in the NFL again.

The media has been predictably quiet about Mixon’s past as the draft approaches, but the negative publicity Mixon would bring to Minnesota would be deafening. I’m not alone in voicing my desire for my favorite team to pass on this Adrian Peterson-like talent.

Not only would I be upset if the Vikings select him, I believe NO TEAM SHOULD DRAFT MIXON. It is simply wrong to view Mixon in the same light as other high character players who are good people that haven’t used their talent alone to become an NFL prospect.

I’m all for second chances, but these actions will haunt Mixon the rest of his professional career. Hopefully he’s learned a life lesson from all this, but if I were GM, there is no way I’m taking a chance on him.

The New England Patriots, a model NFL franchise, have wisely stated they will NOT draft Mixon.

Now, I understand the whole “double standard” argument, but wouldn’t you want a man like James Conner representing your organization, team and city rather than a Joe Mixon? Seems pretty cut and dry to me.

Character matters.

Vikings To Take O-Lineman In 1st Round

You heard it here first folks. Next Thursday, the Minnesota Vikings will trade up into the 1st round of the draft to select an offensive lineman.

The Vikings need to bolster the offensive line in the draft. The problem is multiple other teams need offensive lineman as well – and the Vikes don’t have a 1st-round pick. What they do have, however, is a surplus of mid-round picks.

2017 Draft Picks

RD(PK) PLAYER POS SCHOOL
2(16)
3(15)
3(22)
4(14)
4(22)
5(16)
6(15)
7(14)

Using their mid-round picks as ammo to trade up into the 1st round makes a lot of sense. There are very few elite OL prospects in the draft and there’s not much depth at the position. By trading up the Vikings may be able to land a day-one starter in the 1st round.

The 5th-year team option that accompanies a 1st-round selection is an asset general manger Rick Spielman covets, and it would potentially give the Vikings 3 starters on the o-line that are under contract for the next 5 years (joining Reiff and Remmers). The team would still have enough picks to trade down later to take advantage of the depth at other positions in the draft such as RB and CB.

The Vikings need one more starter up front and drafting one in the 1st round would provide them with flexibility, stability and depth on the offensive line – none of which they had last season.

Here are the offensive line prospects with a 1st or 2nd-round projection in the draft. Their analysis is from Lance Zierlein of NFL.com:

TACKLES

  1. Ryan Ramczyk – Wisconsin (Age 22, 6′ 6, 310 lbs.)
    • Extremely confident tackle with the athleticism to stay on the left side and the technique to make an early impact as a starter. Ramczyk has the core strength and body control that should keep him connected to blocks in both the run and pass and he’s proven to be scheme versatile with his playing style. Ramczyk is an early starter with the potential to become a good starting left tackle provided his medicals hold up.
  2. Garett Bolles – Utah (Age 24, 6′ 5, 297 lbs.)
    • Because he’s only played one year of FBS football and hasn’t been able to fully fill out his frame over the last five years, Bolles will require a projection and conjecture than most of the tackles in this year’s draft. He clearly has elite athletic ability and foot quickness, but his lack of core strength and ability to sustain blocks against power across from him is a concern at this time. While he has Pro Bowl potential for a zone-scheme team, his floor will be a little lower than you might like in an early round pick.
  3. Cam Robinson – Alabama (Age 21, 6′ 6, 322 lbs.)
    • Five-star recruit and three-year starter at left tackle who is a road grader with impressive power at the point of attack and enough athleticism to function in diverse run schemes. Robinson has tape galore against SEC edge talent either playing in the NFL or who soon will be. The tape shows a player with the traits and physical ability to be a good NFL tackle, but his balance issues and inconsistencies as a pass protector are a concern. Robinson is a candidate to be overdrafted due to the position he plays and his size, but buyer beware as some of his deficiencies might not be easily correctable.
  4. Antonio Garcia – Troy (Age 23, 6′ 6, 302 lbs.)
    • Consistently playing below 300 pounds, his lanky frame is the first thing that gets noticed. But his positive attributes show up on tape more than his weaknesses. Mass and functional strength are concerns and he still needs plenty of technical work, but a team could look to draft and stash him based on his starter’s traits and ability.
  5. Taylor Moton – Western Michigan (Age 22, 6′ 5, 320 lbs.)
    • Four-year starter for ascending Western Michigan program. Size and potential to dominate at the point of attack with pure power should make him a coveted right guard prospect. He can be a little stiff in his movements and his footwork needs plenty of work, but he’s functional in both areas. Might need additional work before he is ready to take on the wily, athletic defensive tackles in the NFL, but his physical traits and power give him a chance to become a reliable NFL starter.

GUARDS

  1. Forrest Lamp – Western Kentucky (Age 22, 6′ 4, 305 lbs.)
    • Four-year starter at left tackle whose lack of length will likely force him inside on the next level. He has the athleticism to handle athletic interior rushers while being able to fit into diverse rushing attacks that ask more from the guards and centers. His ability to potentially line up at tackle, guard or center will only increase his value. Lamp’s 2016 performance against Alabama’s talented edge players was a resume-builder that shined a spotlight on his potential as a pro.
  2. Dan Feeney – Indiana (Age 22, 6, 4, 305 lbs.)
    • Four-year starter and two-time team captain, Feeney has been the consistent anchor along an Indiana offensive line that helped to produce NFL running backs Tevin Coleman and Jordan Howard. Feeney is a quality zone blocker with an ability to pull and lead the charge, but he might lack the play strength to become a reliable base blocker. His intelligence and ability to operate in space and protect the quarterback could make him an early starter with a ceiling of above-average NFL guard or center.
  3. Dion Dawkins – Temple (Age 22, 6′ 4, 315 lbs.)
    • Quality tackle who operates with good balance and solid technique. Shows some good initial quickness and a smooth kick-slide out of his stance, but might be better in short areas as a guard rather than in open space as a tackle. He’s athletic enough to operate in space, but power appears to be his calling card. His wide-hand approach in pass protection could be a difficult habit to break, but he has the natural power to withstand bull rush that might come with that. Dawkins is a well-schooled, three-year starter who has chance to transition into an early starter.
  4. Dorian Johnson – Pittsburgh (Age 22, 6′ 5, 300 lbs.)
    • Five-star prospect coming out of high school, Johnson was a full-time starter for three years at Pitt and was known for his consistency and well-rounded game. He has functional power to turn defenders out of the hole and enough athleticism to match any run-game scheme. Johnson doesn’t carry bad weight and should be able to add more bulk with no problem. While he has some weaknesses, nothing appears to be glaring and he should set into a starter’s role right away and become a solid NFL guard.

CENTERS

  1. Ethan Pocic – LSU (Age 21, 6′ 6, 310 lbs.)
    • Flexible, natural athlete with starting experience all along the LSU offensive line. Scouts say Pocic has the intelligence teams look for from a center and is highly regarded by LSU coaches and teammates in the locker room. Pocic is an excellent “work-up” blocker with the ability to thrive in a running game that operates in space, but his lack of power will produce some extremely challenging matchups for him at times.
  2. Pat Elflein – Ohio State (Age 22, 6′ 3, 303 lbs.)
    • Elflein is a smart, tireless worker with a winning background and experience at all three interior offensive line spots. While his feet are just average, his core strength and wrestling background could make him a favorite of teams looking for more strength at the center position. Elflein will have occasional issues in pass protection, but his strength as a run blocker and ability to play with excellent hands and plus body control should make him one of the first interior linemen to come off the draft board.

It’s unlikely Minnesota would trade up for one of the centers in the draft, but if offensive lineman go quicker-than-expected as I predict, the Vikings may be forced to make a proactive move to ensure they get the player they want.

If I were GM there’s no question what I would do: Trade the 2nd-round pick, a 3rd-round pick and a 4th-rounder for a late 1st-round pick and select a quality o-lineman with the most potential. Then I’d trade the other 3rd-round pick for more picks.

Reiff, Boone, Berger, Remmers, Ramczyk looks pretty good on paper. Doesn’t it?

Will The Vikings Draft ‘Smart’?

Meet Joshua Dobbs, quarterback from Tennessee – an aerospace engineer major.

Age 22. 6′ 3, 216 lbs.

2016 Stats: 2,946 yards (63% completion) with 27 TD’s and 12 interceptions. He also had 831 rushing yards with 12 TD’s on the ground.

Dobbs is being toted as this year’s Dak Prescott. Like Prescott, Dobbs is also a dual threat quarterback that may be overlooked in the draft. However, I just don’t see the same spark in Dobbs’ game film as I did with Prescott.

Although Dobbs has the Tennessee record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, he needs to become a better pocket passer if he wants to succeed in the NFL. For an athletic quarterback, he has extremely slow and heavy feet in his drop backs.

He is a very likable person and has many attributes you want in your franchise quarterback. He’s smart, tough, speaks wells and he’s a leader. He clearly should have no trouble learning an NFL playbook.

I do think he has the upside to become a starter in the NFL. I can see a team like Pittsburgh or the New York Giants drafting and developing Dobbs behind their starter for a year or two.

Dobbs is not a fit schematically for Minnesota. The Vikings will run a West Coast offense in 2017 and Dobbs ran a spread offense in Tennessee. With the Vikings now rostering 4 quarterbacks in Sam Bradford, Case Keenum, Taylor Heinecke and Teddy Bridgewater, the smart move for Minnesota may be to pass on a quarterback altogether in this draft.

Another Gut Punch For Vikings

Sharrif Floyd’s NFL career may be over.

The former first-round pick may be forced to retire due to complications from surgery to clean up the meniscus in his right knee. During the surgery, a nerve that controls his quadriceps was disrupted. That nerve (and thus, his quad) is still not firing.

Floyd, 25, was becoming one of the better 3-technique defensive tackles in the NFL. Paired with run-stuffer Linval Joseph, they formed perhaps the best duo of interior defensive lineman in the league.

As Floyd continues to visit some of the best doctors in the country in an effort to rehab his leg, football fans everywhere are hoping the nerve begins to fire and Floyd is able to resume his NFL career.

The Vikings may have the worst luck of any team I’ve ever seen when it comes to season-ending and potentially career-ending injuries. At some point these freak injuries will cease to happen. Until then, Vikings fans will continue to roll with the punches.

Hope to see you on the field soon Sharrif!

Vikings Create Position Battle!

The Vikings have signed veteran punter Ryan Quigley (Age 27, 6′ 3, 188 lbs.). Quigley, an undrafted free agent out of Boston College, played 6 games for the Arizona Cardinals last season but struggled. According to this photo, his knee can bend both ways.

Quigley will compete with Taylor Symmank (Age 24, 6′ 2, 185 lbs.) for the starting job in Minnesota. Symmank was in rookie minicamp with the Vikings last year but did not make the team. According to this photo, he’s very flexible.

The Vikings punter from last season, Jeff Locke, was signed by the Indianapolis Colts in free agency this offseason. Locke, a 5th round pick in 2013, was widely hated among Vikings fans because he sucked at punting. He had a decent year (for his standards) in 2016 but will be considered a bust because his draft position.

As a GM, this is the way to approach the punter position. YOU SHOULD NEVER SPEND A DRAFT PICK ON A PUNTER unless you’re in real trouble or the punter can kick the ball 90 yards in the air.

Both of these punters will come very cheap and because no draft pick was used on acquiring them, they can easily be cut if there’s a better option that becomes available after Training Camp or preseason roster cuts.

My prediction is that Symmank will earn the job, but I wouldn’t mind the return of legend Chris Kluwe.

The Vikings Are Making A BIG Mistake

Starting quarterback Sam Bradford is arguably Minnesota’s most important asset heading into the 2017 season. Bradford, the 1st overall pick of the 2010 draft, set an NFL record in 2016 for completion percentage in a season despite having one of the worst offensive lines in team history.

The Vikings paid a hefty price (2017 1st and 4th-round picks to Philadelphia) to acquire Bradford, now they’ve paid a fortune (Reiff – 5 years, $58M, Remmers – 5 years, $30M) to protect him.

The team’s new offensive coordinator, Pat Shurmur, is implementing an offense scheme that complements Bradford’s skill set.

Yet, for whatever reason, the Vikings have chosen not to extend Bradford. The obvious reason is they are waiting to see what happens with Bridgewater’s recovery. And if that’s the case, they’re making a big mistake, and they’re already paying for the incompetence.

The Vikings have a 24 year-old quarterback on the roster in Teddy Bridgewater that seemingly everyone in the organization loves (I do too). Teddy Two-Gloves, who was being groomed as the team’s franchise quarterback before suffering a potential career-ending injury, has made progress in his rehab, recently posting a video online of him throwing a football to a receiver. It’s a promising sign, but there’s still a chance he will never play in the NFL again. And frankly, even when Bridgewater is healthy, Bradford is a better quarterback.

The Vikings should have given Bradford an extension after the season. First of all, he earned it. The team has no reason not see Bradford as it’s unquestioned starter for the foreseeable future. By doing so, you make Bridgewater earn the right to become starter again. Secondly, if the Vikings would have extended Bradford before free agency, NFL free agents would have known the team’s future direction. Because he only has 1 year left on his contract, the future of Bradford and Minnesota’s QB situation is uncertain. That uncertainty hurt the Vikings badly in free agency as they attempted to sign multiple free agents that ultimately signed with other teams, despite them offering a larger sum of money.

Standing pat in this circumstance is not economical or logical. The Vikings can’t afford to “wait and see what happens” with Bradford and Bridgewater this season – they need stability at the most important position in sports. Fans argue having too many QB’s is a “good situation,” but when has creating a quarterback controversy ever been good for a team?

Bradford will play out the last year of his contract (in essentially a prove-it season) for $18M. Bridgewater, who likely won’t play this season, will make $2.17M.

By procrastinating on Bradford’s extension, the front office has created many questions that will need to be answered next offseason. If Bradford excels again, how much will he want? Does he even want to stay in Minnesota? Should you franchise tag him? If he struggles, do you let him go for nothing after giving up so much to get him? Also, Bridgewater has a 5th-year option for 2018 worth $11M. Will the Vikings really be willing to pay $11M to a backup QB that hasn’t played in 2 years? Do they see him as a starter if he’s healthy? Do they extend both quarterbacks? Do they try to trade one?

Right now it appears the Vikings are willing to wait and see what happens.

After signing Case Keenum yesterday, the Vikings now have Bradford, Bridgewater, Keenum, and Taylor Heinecke rostered at quarterback. Only Bridgewater and Heinecke remain under contract post 2017.

Perhaps the plan all along was to keep Bradford for 2 years, then reinstate Bridgewater as starter. I really hope that’s not the case…but I’m starting to think it was. Bridgewater may be seen by the team as the future and Bradford may be seen as injury-prone, but the latter has outplayed expectations and there’s no reason to think he can’t continue his stellar play with an improved offense around him.

Bradford has proven he can be a Pro-Bowl caliber asset. The team needs stability. Extend him. $3 years, $60M.