The Minnesota Vikings added six offensive players in the 2017 NFL Draft, but were they good additions and how do these players fit?
Entering the 2017 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings had two clear needs before them on the offensive side of the ball. With Adrian Peterson and even Matt Asiata departing, they needed to do something at running back. To help whatever back they brought in and Sam Bradford, they also needed to find bodies that could be effective on the offensive line.
Despite not owning a first-round pick, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman was able to get good value and Day 1 starters at both spots. What’s more, he was also able to find players that can help to address secondary needs on the offensive side of the ball. Minnesota’s offense, ravaged by injuries in 2016, was a large part of their collapse late in the season. However, the hope is that these moves will both improve and deepen the unit.
So, how can the Vikings picks on the offensive side of the ball contribute in 2017? Let’s take a look in the order they were selected.
Round 2, Pick 41: Dalvin Cook, RB – Florida State
Instant production found in a first-round talent that dropped to the second round, Rick Spielman does a fantastic job here to find the next predecessor for Adrian Peterson.
Most big boards by position had Cook as a top-three running back in the draft, while some had him as high as the No. 1 back in the draft. Minnesota traded up with Cincinnati to land the running back out of Florida State, pairing him with Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon. All three running backs on the roster can excel in all fields. Cook may be the most well-rounded back on the depth chart, but Murray adds better pass protection and unmatched production on the goal-line.
Cook’s tape speaks for itself, showing a highly productive player in the ACC that flourished in the spotlight. His best games were against premier talent like the Clemson Tigers, toting the rock 19 times for 169 yards and four touchdowns. Cook also surpassed Warrick Dunn as the leading rusher in Seminole history, while boasting a very underrated receiving aspect of his game.
The Vikings may have signed Murray for the sake of having a stop-gap at the position if they were not able to get the back they liked in the draft, fortunately enough for the purple and gold they saw this premium runner falling down the line. Off-field issues aside, this was a steal pick for Minnesota. If the strong locker room can guide Cook in the right direction in Minneapolis, the sky is the limit for him.
Round 3, Pick 6: Pat Elflein, C/OG
Possibly the largest need for this Vikings team was offensive linemen, and it just so happened they coveted one of the nastiest ones in the draft. A former starter at guard turned center, Elflein brings an edge and tenacity that is comparable to one of their free agent signings from last year, Alex Boone.
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Some don’t like the fact that Minnesota had to move up to make this selection. I’m not the biggest fan of it either, but the earlier selection of Ethan Poicic by the Seahawks at 58th overall may have signaled Minnesota to start making a move for the lineman they wanted. Now, whether or not Elflein will take over center while Minnesota moves Berger to guard, if Elflein himself moves to guard, or if they just completely move on from Berger is yet to be seen.
Elflein is a leader by trade from Ohio State; physical at the front of the attack and loves to finish off his blocks. His feet and ability to pass protect will be a key emphasis under Tony Sparano, along with the two tackles they signed in free agency. Guys like Linval Joseph, Shamar Stephen, Everson Griffen, and possibly Sharrif Floyd will really help improve Elflein’s game in practice as he will need to improve his agility and footwork at the next level.
The player himself was a great pick, whether if he was moving up for will be determined if he starts at the beginning of the year or not. Not a reach by any means, but Minnesota probably could’ve waited.
Round 5, Pick 170: Rodney Adams, WR – South Florida
Minnesota finds a potential replacement of Cordarrelle Patterson with the pick-up of Rodney Adams. An all-around athlete that has the ability to beat defenses deep through the air, or on quick sweep hand-offs and wide receiver screens, Rick Spielman once again finds value in the fifth round.
Some knocks on this receiver start with his very thin frame, he needs to put on muscle during the off-season to really compete at the next level. Also, he has ball security issues that will need to be addressed immediately. Last season Adams fumbled the ball five times on 90 touches, which is concerning if the Vikings plan on having him be their kick returner as well.
There is tremendous upside here with a receiver that had limited opportunity on a run heavy offense at South Florida. Adams is skilled in the mold of Patterson but compared to the likes of Curtis Samuel and Carlos Henderson in this 2017 NFL Draft. A quick twitch with elusiveness out of the roof, it’s reassuring to also know that the Vikings are getting a receiver well versed in his routes and does attack balls with his hands.
Minnesota notably lost two receivers from their roster during this offseason, Patterson and Charles Johnson, and will be looking for others to step in such as this new rookie. It’ll be hard to replace the production of Patterson on kick returns, as he has been one of the best in the business since entering the league. But Adams could at least potentially fill those shoes and still create a multitude of plays on offense.
Round 5, Pick 180: Danny Isidora, OG – Miami (FL)
Minny continues the offensive line overhaul as they slide in to pick up Danny Isidora out of the University of Miami towards the end of the fifth round. A solid starter for Hurricanes the last three years at guard, Isidora was finally rewarded for his play in 2016, picking up second-team All-ACC honors. His size at 6-3, 300+ pounds will be a great addition for Minnesota’s interior line play.
Isidora is an athletic guard that works to the second level with ease. The Vikings have spent quite a bit of time out of the shotgun this past season, so the pulling nature will need to be in play for whoever wins the guard spot out of camp.
This three-year starter will not overwhelm anyone with his strength, nor pile-drive too many defenders in the ground. But Isidora is very good at maintaining his blocks and being instinctive enough to know where to help or move down the line.
All in all, for most teams this would usually be a depth addition move, but for Minnesota he could potentially be competing for the starting gig out of the gate. The right guard slot is open for the taking, now with multiple players competing for the position. Sure this is a fifth-round pick, but as a team that lacks a strong front line, do not be surprised if Isidora climbs the Vikings depth chart.
Round 6, Pick 201: Bucky Hodges, TE – Virginia Tech
A purely skilled tight end on the outside with limited blocking ability, Hodges provides a potential replacement for the recently departed Mycole Pruitt. Hodges joins the likes of Kyle Rudolph, David Morgan, and the newly signed Nick Truesdell. Hodges stands a massive 6-7 and plays a lot more like a raw wide receiver than a tight end, creating some dismal mismatches in college.
Despite the size and upside, Hodges has not played the position long, and really has a ton to learn when it comes to being a tight end in the league.
He spent most of his time in college lining up in the slot and on the outside, not normally lining up on the end of the line and helping block. Not that he’s shy of contact, Virginia Tech just simply saw better uses for him during his time there. Minnesota will need to work on his route running, his blocking, and his overall physical nature.
The Vikings have had a tendency to keep three tight-ends on the roster, one being the all-around player in Kyle Rudolph, the h-back blocker with catching ability in David Morgan, so it will more or less come down to the former Arena Football League star in Truesdell and now the rookie Hodges for the third spot.
It’ll come down to training camp, just some more competition that a Pat Shurmur coached offensive system needs to succeed. Hodges has a real outside shot of making the roster with his athletic ability alone.
Round 7, Pick 219: Stacy Coley, WR – Miami (FL)
This wide receiver reminds me a lot of a receiver that is already on the roster, Jarius Wright. A quick twitch slot receiver who can get vertical, Coley has more of a sudden burst then breakaway speed, though he runs a 4.45 in the 40.
Coley will need to gain some strength at the next level, only putting 10 reps up on the bench. He was quite up and down at Miami, where he slumped his sophomore year and never eclipsed 1,000 yards in any season. Minnesota may be hoping that he fulfills he talent and becomes a contributor in some sort of way on the season, but I’m not too sure Coley makes the roster entering the season.
Source: Fox Sports