Another NFL Draft is in the books, and as per usual, “Slick” Rick Spielman was at the top of his game through the three day process. At one point in the Draft, Spielman had executed more trades than the Vikings had picks, but clearly there is method to the madness with the Vikings ending up with 11 players taken in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Trading down and stockpiling picks would end up being the story of the Vikings’ Draft, but Spielman was far from shy in going after players that he would have to trade up to get. When first-round talent Dalvin Cook slipped to the second round, Spielman pulled the trigger on what looks to be one of the biggest steals in this year’s Draft.
Second Round, Pick 41: RB, Dalvin Cook
How one of the most talented running backs in one of the deepest running back Draft classes in a decade fell to the second round is pretty remarkable. Disregarding the off the field issues, Cook is a first-round talent all day long, and would have gone a lot sooner in any other Draft lacking the depth at running back that this year’s Draft possessed.
Cook has all of the tools to be a three down back in the NFL but will need to improve in pass-protection, which really only requires the desire to learn. Next to Leonard Fournette, Cook is the most dynamic back with the ball in his hands and is a threat to score from anywhere on the field.
The biggest knock on Cook is ball security, something that he struggled with during his time at Florida State. If he can improve on taking better care of the football and grow in his ability to pass-protect, Cook could be well on his way to being the next great Vikings running back.
Third Round, Pick 70: G/C, Pat Elflein
Pat Elflein out of Ohio State is the second and final player that Spielman moved up to get in the Draft, and when you learn more about him, the reasoning becomes very clear.
Not only does Elflein provide positional flexibility between the guard and center positions, he provides the toughness and down-right grittiness that offensive line coach Tony Sparano has been looking to build among the unit since taking over prior to the 2016 season. Elflein will need to improve in pass-protection, but his ability to create running room for the Vikings newly reloaded stable of running backs is sure to pay dividends going forward.
The importance of Elflein’s ability to play the center and guard positions cannot be overstated given the injury disaster this team faced last season. The inability to establish any sort of running game almost single-handedly derailed what looked like a very special season five weeks in.
Fourth Round, Pick 109: DT, Jaleel Johnson
When the former Hawkeye turned Vikings great Chad Greenway retired this offseason, the Vikings saw fit to try and groom another one by adding defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson in the fourth round of the Draft.
The former high-school wrestler provides depth and rotational ability right out of the gate for a team that sorely needs it. With questions still lingering about defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd’s availability this upcoming season after sitting out the entirety of the 2015-2016 season, Spielman made a wise decision to add a player of Johnson’s caliber at this stage of the Draft.
Like teammate and fellow defensive tackle Tom Johnson, Jaleel Johnson has an innate ability to get after the quarterback, as evidenced by his 7.5 sacks last season with Iowa leading to being named to First-Team All Big-10.
Fourth Round, Pick 120: ILB, Ben Gedeon
A “throwback” type of player according to Spielman, Gedeon provides immediate depth and potential starting ability in the not so distant future. With the Vikings having to part ways with linebacker Audie Cole this offseason due to free-agency, Gedeon will look to take over for Audie Cole as Eric Kendricks’ backup at the middle linebacker position.
In the meantime, Gedeon will likely see the field most on special teams given his ability to finish as a tackler.
Fifth Round, Pick 170: WR, Rodney Adams
For a team that needed a receiver that can take the top off the defense, Rodney Adams out of South Florida may be the answer. Adams is a dynamic player with the ball in his hands and plays with a level of speed that only Stefon Diggs possesses in the Vikings wide receiver core.
With kick returning duties needing to be addressed following the departure of Cordarrelle Patterson, Adams will likely battle with another new receiver whom the Vikings took in the seventh round named Stacy Coley.
As a receiver, Adams could push veteran Jarius Wright out given his superior speed and playmaking ability if he were to be lined up in the slot. His lack of play strength may hold him back going forward and his drop rate during his sophomore and junior seasons is alarming, but if he can improve in these areas he can be a solid third or fourth receiver on this team.
Fifth Round, Pick 180: G, Danny Isidora
As an athlete, there is a lot to like about University of Miami’s Danny Isidora. He has quick feet and ideal size to make a living in the NFL.
Unfortunately, he was exposed to some extent in the Senior Bowl when faced with a “bull-rush” that took him out of position in the one on one drills. This is likely the reasoning behind why he fell to the fifth round.
There is no doubt that the coaching staff is aware of Isidora’s limitations and will look to improve his technique when they can get their hands on him. If he can learn to withstand power and maintain his position, Isidora has all of the remaining tools to become a dependable starter in the NFL for years to come.
Sixth Round, Pick 201: TE, Bucky Hodges
Of all the picks made in rounds four through seven, this is my favorite of them all, and I’m still left scratching my head wondering how an athlete like Hodges fell so far.
Standing at a solid 6’6″ with a 39 inch vertical and running in the 4.5′s, Hodges has red-zone threat written all over him and looks to be an absolute matchup nightmare for linebackers and DB’s alike.
Hodges will need to improve as a blocker, but his ability as a pass-catcher was far too good to pass up in the sixth round. Depending upon where they decide to line him up, he may not need to do much blocking anyway.
Seventh Round, Pick 219: WR, Stacy Coley
Another vertical threat out of Florida, in this case Miami, Coley possesses big time speed and soft hands that will translate well into the next level of competition.
Coming out of high school, Coley was one of the most highly recruited wide receivers in the nation. With the U, Coley flashed signs of greatness, but questions have lingered as to whether or not he truly loves the game.
With Rookie mini-camp and Training Camp rapidly approaching, it will be up to Coley to prove he has the work ethic and desire to compete in the NFL. Coley possesses all of the intangibles to make a living in the NFL, but it may be his attitude that holds him back from reaching his true potential.
Seventh Round, Pick 220: DE, Ifeadi Odenigbo
An edge rusher out of Northwestern finishing with 10 sacks during his senior year, Odenigbo exhibits the traits that defensive line coach Andre Patterson covets among rookies, namely length and pure athleticism.
Odenigbo is still very raw and can use some improvement on his run-stopping abilities, but Coach Patterson is more than capable of working with and improving upon these shortcomings.
Seventh Round, Pick 232: LB, Elijah Lee
Named First-Team All-Big 12 during his junior season, Lee made a living at Kansas State making splashy plays and doing it with a level of nastiness you would hope for from a linebacker.
Lee will likely only see the field as a special teams contributor during his rookie season, but possesses the tools to eventually start and make a difference at the second level of the Vikings defense.
Seventh Round, Pick 245: DB, Jack Tocho
Many Draft experts had the Vikings selecting a DB a lot earlier in the Draft than where they did, which happened to be their last pick of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Unlike a lot of the picks mentioned previously, Tocho is not a freak athlete, but he does possess one of the highest football IQ’s of any player selected by the Vikings this year.
Above all else, Tocho’s ability to play the corner and safety positions was very likely the key intangible that moved Spielman to pull the trigger on the DB out of NC State.
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