General Manager Rick Spielman said at the 19th Annual Arctic Blast in February, “I really, really think we’re going to do a lot of movement in the draft.”
Well, with the draft just hours away, not much has really changed. The idea that the 8th pick is flexible and the thought of Spielman trading back to aggressively peruse more picks is still very much on the table. The Vikings have eight picks in the 2014 NFL Draft, and Spielman has gone on record saying the goal is to compile 10 selections annually.
Eight of Rick Spielman’s 61 draft picks since 2006 have earned Pro Bowl honors. A 13 percent Pro Bowl success rate for a team committed to building through the draft is a strong number. As good as Spielman is at directing a war room and doing his due diligence, he unfortunately has never successfully struck gold at the quarterback position. Viking fans are hopeful that 2014 will be the draft that Spielman strikes it rich at the most important position in professional football.
How much influence will new Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and new offensive coordinator Norv Turner have in Spielman draft strategy? And will Zimmer encourage Spielman to continue his recent tradition of drafting two players from the same school?
The “oddity” of Spielman selecting multiple players from the same school first accrued in the 2007 draft, when the Vikings selected Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson in the first round and teammate Rufus Alexander in the sixth round. In 2012, the oddity escalated into a full fledged “fixation” as the Vikings selected multiple players from three programs. USC scored with Matt Kalil and Rhett Ellison, Notre Dame added their name to the list with Harrison Smith and Robert Blanton, and Arkansas was included in the twofer fraternity with Jarius Wright and Greg Childs. Spielman’s twofer fixation mushroomed into a peculiar “tradition” in 2013 as the Vikings selected Xavier Rhodes and Everett Dawkins from Florida State, Gerald Hodges and Mike Mauti from Penn State, and Jeff Locke and Jeff Bacca from UCLA.
In this mock, Zimmer becomes imbued with Spielman’s obsession to double down on same school, and the tradition now becomes a “craze”.
Spielman would love to move down from 8 or 40 and still have a shot at these two Pitt players while adding one or two additional unlisted draft picks.
Pick 8 – DT Aaron Donald Pittsburg
Arguably the most dominant defender in college football this past season, Aaron Donald wreaked havoc inside and virtually lived in the backfield as a senior. While size may limit his schematic fit or role at the next level, he aced every pre-draft test and was arguably the most impressive performer at both the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine. – Ryan Lownes Bleacher Report
Pick 40 – QB Tom Savage Pittsburg
NFL size, above average arm strength and velocity on throws to all levels of the field with a clean spiral. Prototypical delivery and throwing technique with balanced footwork in his set-up and release. Poised and comfortable in the pocket to survey and deliver. Fearless in the pocket to set into the face of pressure and find his man. Savage certainly has his share of bad game tape with streaky accuracy and poor decisions, but the NFL size and arm strength will earn him a shot – could surprise in the top 50 picks as he continues to rise up draft boards. – Dane Brugler cbssports.com
Pick 72 – CB Keith McGill Utah
Tall, well-proportioned athlete with intriguing fluidity and straight line speed. Frequently asked to play press man in Utah’s scheme and displays the balance, agility and acceleration to perform well in this role at the next level. Alert defender that plays the ball well using his height, leaping ability and long arms to bat away passes. Baits quarterbacks into throwing underneath routes and shows an explosive downhill burst to close. Generally effective open-field tackler with long arms to wrap securely. – Rob Rang cbssport.com
Pick 96 – OLB Trevor Reilly Utah
Trevor Reilly has flown under the radar somewhat but he has been a very impactful defender at Utah. He has the size, length and relentless motor Zimmer covets. His versatility, athleticism, instinct and toughness makes him an intriguing prospect. Reilly can standup and play outside or inside linebacker. He can also put his hand in the dirt and rush the QB.
Reilly played all of his junior year with a torn ACL. He also has played with an added sense of energy and work ethic on the football field… and has been able to keep life in perspective due to the battle his young daughter has waged with cancer.
Reilly gets my Zimmer tough guy stamp of approval.
Pick 108 – FS Ed Reynolds Stanford
At 6-2, 205 pounds, Reynolds possesses the lanky build scouts are looking for at the position. Physical and instinctive. Demonstrates good agility and acceleration to handle covering athletic tight ends out of the slot as well as supply deep help over the top. Reads the action and moves fluidly, showing a nice late burst to close on the ball and terrific vision and open-field running ability once he possesses it. Understands his role as the last line of defense and generally takes excellent angles in pursuit.
Force in run defense. Savvy defender and reliable open-field tackler. Breaks down well in space and delivers a pop on contact, often driving ballcarriers back. – Rob Rang cbssports
Pick 148 – OG David Yankey Stanford
It’s not easy to replace two prominent offensive lineman at two different positions in one collegiate career, but that is what Stanford’s David Yankey has done. In 2012, he took over for left tackle Jonathan Martin when Martin hit the NFL, allowing just one sack all season in that role. And when guard David Decastro departed the program for the next level in 2013, Yankey moved back inside and became the benchmark for the style that deCastro took to a new high – the pulling, trapping agile guard with outstanding functional technique. Now, it’s Yankey’s turn to shine as a professional, and he’s got as complete a resume as one could hope for. – Doug Farrar Sports Illustrated
Pick 184 – QB David Fales San Jose State
Accuracy is one of Norv Turner’s most important qualities in a quarterback. Fales has terrific accuracy and completed over 72.5% in 2012. Quick feet and a great feel in the pocket allows him to step up while keeping his eyes down field. Fales is a smart QB effective at pre snap reads, always seems to knows what he wants to do with the ball. Average arm strength but has a quick release and never gives up on plays.
Pick 223 – RB Tyler Gaffney Stanford
Gaffney had a good performance at the combine finishing near the top in his position in several events. Prototypical size for an NFL running back. Extraordinary production as a senior rushing for 1,709 and a 5.2 per carry average. He keeps his feet moving and gains additional yards on second effort. Very well rounded athlete capable of contributing on special teams coverage and return units. Good pass blocker and has good hand an eye coordination as a pass catcher. Gaffeny will not break off a bunch of big plays but he avoids negative plays and can move the chains. Gaffeny just seems like a Toby Gerhart type of replacement.