The Vikings are in a weird spot when it comes to their franchise.
Holding onto the third pick in a draft with a potential franchise QB sitting there even though they just drafted Christian Ponder last year, and more importantly an injured star in Adrian Peterson who, although all reports are his rehab is going great, is still going to be limited coming off major knee surgery.
So how did the Vikings, one Brett Favre interception away from going to the Super Bowl 3 years ago, end up having the third pick in the NFL Draft in 2012?
Let’s take a look.
2007 Minnesota Vikings Draft Results:
#7 Adrian Peterson, RB Oklahoma
#44 Sidney Rice, WR South Carolina
#72 Marcus McCauley, CB Fresno St
#102 Brian Robinson, DE Texas
#146 Aundrae Allison, WR East Carolina
#176 Rufus Alexander, LB Oklahoma
#217 Tyler Thigpen, QB Coastal Carolina
#233 Chandler Williams, WR Florida International
Obviously this draft was a home run for the Vikings, and that is even with Sidney Rice leaving via free agency last off season.
Adrian Peterson is the best back in the NFL on a yearly basis and anytime you can boast a best at their position the grade is going to be good, but it is after Peterson that is so impressive.
While Rice has been plagued by inconsistencies throughout his career, he has shown flashes of being a number 1 WR, and while he doesn’t play with the Vikings anymore, his contributions to the team on their route to the NFC Championship game were vital.
Brian Robinson has transformed into a productive every down defensive end opposite Jared Allen for the Vikings while being severely inexpensive for his production: 8 sacks, 13 QB hits, 54 pressures (profootballfocus.com)
And while McCauley, Allison, Alexander and Williams didn’t make it in the league, the fact that Peterson, Robinson and Rice are all starters, albeit Rice not in Minny, means the Vikings did a good job drafting.
Especially when you do the right thing and take the best player in the draft – YOU HEAR THAT CARDINALS BRASS! PETERSON WAS THE BEST PLAYER IN THE DRAFT!
Mel Kiper’s Grade: B+
Pete Prisco: B
Actual Grade: A
This was one of those drafts where you look back and just shake your head. Everyone knocked the Vikings down because they passed on Brady Quinn. Really? I mean honestly I can’t even fathom why there was a debate, and I remember the 2007 draft vividly because I was sitting at Buffalo Wild Wings with my dad and we were both PLEADING with the Cardinals to draft Peterson. Alas, they took Brown and the rest, as they say, is history.
Hey Vikings fans you know why you are choosing third overall in the draft, watch these next two draft classes.
2008 Minnesota Vikings Draft Results:
#43 Tyrell Johnson, FS Arkansas State
#137 John David Booty, QB USC
#152 Letroy Guion, DT Florida State
#187 John Sullivan, C Notre Dame
#193 Jaymar Johnson, WR Jackson St
The Vikings traded their 17th overall pick (first round), the 73rd and 82nd overall picks (third round), and 182nd overall pick (sixth round) in the 2008 draft for Jared Allen from the Chiefs.
Honestly I can’t even comment on this, the only starter from the actual picks is John Sullivan who is graded out as a lower half center in the league, while Guion is a nice rotation player in the defensive front for the Vikings.
Johnson never reached his potential and is also a part time player who hasn’t had any impact.
Then you factor in Jared Allen, probably the most consistently dominant defensive end in the NFL since he arrived to the Vikings.
So who could have the Vikings take with all those picks?
Joe Flacco is really the only name that jumps off the page at you, because they wouldn’t have been interested in Chris Johnson.
How much do you factor in the Allen acquisition into this grade?
I know, let’s grade just the picks, then throw in the trade and average the two, what do you say?
Mel Kiper’s: B
Pete Prisco: B
Actual Grade: D
Trade Grade: A
Overall Grade: B-
The Allen trade is the only reason this gets a slightly above average grade. Yes it is great to hit a homerun, but what about depth and talent building? Johnson flopped big time, which shows why the draft is such a crap shoot, and while Sullivan starts, he isn’t anything special at the C position.
2009 Minnesota Vikings Draft Results:
#22 Percy Harvin, WR Florida
#54 Phil Loadholt, OT Oklahoma
#86 Asher Allen, DB Georgia
#150 Jasper Brinkley, LB South Carolina
#231 Jamarca Sanford, DB Mississippi
In all honesty this class still needs another year or two before I could truly give it a grade.
I will say Loadholt being the most consistent player doesn’t speak volumes, and the fact that the Vikes are so linked to upgrading at CB doesn’t speak well of Allen’s performance.
Harvin, while dynamic, is still injury prone having missed all or parts of at least 2 games in each of his first three seasons.
This class is just not ready to be graded at full capacity, but I feel comfortable taking a stab at it based on the fact that they have the third pick in the draft for a reason.
Mel Kiper’s: C+
Pete Prisco: B-
Actual Grade: C
Average is probably high at this point. Loadholt has regressed as a blocker and Allen isn’t an every down CB in the league, I think he can be a successful nickel back and if given the chance could excel making this grade low, but with 3 inconsistent players and two out of the league I think I am actually being a little generous.
So what can the Vikings look forward to from here?
Well as I told fellow TSHQ member Chris Jenkins, the Vikings really are in the best draft position available. I know you are saying “What?”
Well with the third pick the Vikings get to watch and see what happens, if the Rams decide they are dumb if they don’t take Justin Blackmon and finally get Sam Bradford some help at WR, then they don’t trade that second pick.
Then the Vikings have a plethora of options, but we can talk about that soon enough.
What about free agency?
Well with about $8 million in cap space the Vikings need to address A LOT of holes on the squad.
With needs at WR, OT, OG, LB, and all positions in the secondary that $8 million isn’t going to go a long way.
First thing I do if I am Minnesota is try to resign Erin Henderson, and if that doesn’t work then go out and offer Manny Lawson a deal. It isn’t sexy, but he can be an effective every down OLB, as he showed last season with the Bengals. He wasn’t highly sought after last off season, and things haven’t changed enough to warrant a huge deal.
Then I see what Richard Marshall wants for a contract, as much as it pains me to say that as Cardinals fan who wants Marshall back.
If you can get two of those three, preferably Henderson and Marshall, I think the Vikes take a flyer on a WR like Patrick Crayton, Eddie Royal, or Legedu Naanee to try and improve that position before draft day as well.
With the depth of WR talent in the draft, we will see what the Vikes need to do as draft day gets a little close, but there is some food for thought.