This draft recap is written through the eyes of two veteran Viking minds. We felt it was important to use a well-rounded look at how the team’s 12 selections will affect the rest of the roster. One viewpoint is a little more optimistic and the other is a little more… let’s say realistic. Here are our thoughts:
Offensive line additions
POSITIVES (SEAN): Let’s hop right into this – Riley Reiff isn’t going anywhere. Despite pre-draft rumors suggesting the Vikings could trade up to select a tackle early in the first round, the team took interior offensive linemen with two of their first four picks. Only one tackle, Oli Udoh, was selected — in the sixth round. It’s safe to assume both Reiff and right tackle Brian O’Neill are staying put. What’s even better is this; Udoh is a raw, talented player that could potentially develop into a starter under the guidance of OL coach Rick Dennison.
Assuming first-round pick Garrett Bradbury takes over at center, fourth-rounder Dru Samia could potentially push Pat Elflein and Josh Kline for a starting job. And even if he doesn’t crack the starting lineup, the Vikings suddenly find themselves with some quality depth on the interior of the line. Hallelujah Valhalla! Furthermore, the team drafted players who won’t disrupt the building blocks already set in place on the line. I’m even starting to feel better about Kirk Cousins. Will the offensive line actually be good enough to become a strength this season? It’s a stretch to say at this point, but with the nasty streak that this OL class brings with it, yeah, I think it could turn into one.
NEGATIVES (TYLER): Aside from drafting an OT from the football powerhouse Elon, it’s hard to be negative here. The Vikings needed help on the offensive line and they got it. We should all be thankful for this, no matter how pessimistic you may lean. However, I am a little skeptical of how nonchalant everyone is being about the move from C to G for Elflein. I understand that he played guard in college but there is still a possibility that the move does not work out and the Vikings are left with a large quantity of below average Guards and two pretty good Centers. (Which is still better than where they were at last year.)
Updated RB stable
- Alexander Mattison, Boise State (Round 3)
POSITIVES (SEAN): Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, who’s had trouble staying heathy so far in his young career, will now be spelled by third-round rookie Alexander Mattison, According to general manager Rick Spielman, the team was looking for a replacement for Latavius Murray. They wanted whoever took over Murray’s role to have a similar skill set. Apparently that’s what they saw in Mattison.
The Boise State back will presumably have the same role as Murray, filling in while Cook needs a breather or in short-yardage situations. He’ll join Mike Boone, Ameer Abdullah and Roc Thomas in the revamped running back room.
NEGATIVES (TYLER): Dalvin Cook is an incredible talent when he is on the field. The problem is, as Sean mentioned, he hasn’t been on the field enough. Previously, Latavius Murray would step in and take care of business like the grizzled vet he was. Not the same home run threat as Cook but who is? If Dalvin Cook misses significant time again this season, the Vikings will be starting either a rookie, one of two second-year UDFA’s or Ameer Bleeping Abdullah. Gary Kubiak has a history of making decent RB’s great and if Dalvin Cook gets hurt again, the Vikings are going to need all of the magic Kubiak and his cavalcade of coaches can muster.
POSITIVES (SEAN): The Vikings on Saturday picked up two wide receivers with back-to-back picks in the seventh round. Both of these guys are gunning for the WR3 spot. They’ll need to compete with the likes of Laquon Treadwell, Chad Beebe, Brandon Zylstra, Jordan Taylor and Jeff Badet. With seven+ players in the mix for the job, it’s entirely up to the players to stand out on the field and make an impression throughout OTAs and training camp. With Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs topping the depth chart and new WR coach Drew Petzing leading the group, I think the best player for the role will naturally emerge as the season grows closer.
NEGATIVES (TYLER): I would have liked the Vikings to go after a wide receiver earlier in this draft. Kirk Cousins needs all the weapons he can get and right now, Treadwell is still your WR3. Although the Vikings have a history of finding amazing players in later rounds and have players who have shown a little promise, forcing Treadwell out of that spot seems more pressing than two 7th round picks.
TE of the future
- Irv Smith Jr., Alabama (Round 2)
POSITIVES (SEAN): You have no idea how excited am I for everyone to stop talking about drafting an athletic tight end. Amazing pick here. Would love to see both Kyle Rudolph AND Smith on the team this season if the front office can make it happen financially. Either way, Smith is the guy going forward and he’s incredible after the catch.
NEGATIVES (TYLER): Don’t even get me started on tight ends! If everyone agrees that Kyle Rudolph is overpaid for his level of production — but you can also argue that he is one of the most productive tight ends in the NFL since 2016 — aren’t we overvaluing the position? The Vikings need a WR3 and more weapons for Kirk Cousins, unless they trade Rudolph or play them both a lot, it seems like this pick could have been better spent elsewhere.
You can never have enough d-backs
POSITIVES (SEAN): Epps is a former walk-on at Wyoming that wound up being part of the one of the best safety tandems in the country. He’s an instinctive player who hits hard and actually plays with a similar style to former Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo. Sendejo joined the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency. Following his departure, the team needed some depth at safety. Epps will likely compete for a roster spot with former AAF standout Derron Smith, as well as any UDFA’s the team signs over the next few days.
Boyd is Texas cornerback who was teammates with Holton Hill. Hopefully pairing the two together has a Jordan Smith/Justin Thomas-like affect on their careers. According to Pro Football Focus, Boyd was the Big 12’s top cornerback against the run. He could potentially win the 6th CB spot and take Hill’s place during his 4-game suspension, assuming he makes the team.
NEGATIVES (TYLER): People tend to forget that Marcus Sherels saw the field as DB last season due to injuries to the Vikings secondary. The perceived depth at the position is suspect at best. With Mike Hughes recently running for the first time during his rehab, Holton Hill suspended for the first four games of the 2019 season and Sendejo and Sherels gone, there are a lot of questions left to be answered in the secondary. It’s weird though, because Mike Zimmer is the coach, I am not worried at all.
POSITIVES (SEAN): The Vikings have two linebackers, Kentrell Brothers and Eric Wilson, whose contracts are up after the season. That’s a big reason why I think they chose Smith, who was a productive linebacker for USC. The Vikings may not take a quarterback every year, but they certainly take a LB’s annually. I have to think by now they know what they’re looking for from the position. Smith gives Minnesota a quality special teams player and positional versatility as he’s capable of playing all three linebacker roles.
Armon Watts is built just like Shamar Stephen (6-5, 300), except he’s naturally better at getting to the quarterback. Put the two together and you have a solid combination of size and repertoire at three technique. Watts is solid competition for guys like Jaleel Johnson and Jalyn Holmes, who are expected to garner more playing time this upcoming season.
NEGATIVES (TYLER): Hard to complain about more defenders for Zimmer to work with. Would an offensive lineman done have done any good in either spot? There are some who would say yes.
- Austin Cutting, Air Force (Round 7)
POSITIVES (SEAN): Lol. Rick Spielman’s annual “I know more than you” pick. Cutting’s PFF grades are really good, which everyone knows are crucial for long-snapping. Probable LSOTF.
NEGATIVES (TYLER): Whew. Where to start with this one? First, you can do this job without using your eyes, and we just used a draft pick on that very position. Secondly, did you know he might not even play for two years because of his Air Force commitment? Sure, it’s just a 7th round pick but this definitely feels like Rick is just toying with us now.