One Vikings Draft Pick Called a “Gem” and “Sleeper”

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

Quarterback J.J. McCarthy and outside linebacker Dallas Turner headlined the Minnesota Vikings’ 2024 draft class, but they weren’t the only newcomers welcomed during the event.

One Vikings Draft Pick Called a “Gem” and “Sleeper”

Five others joined the purple team after a busy Day No. 3 of the draft, as the club plots a new era after Kirk Cousins bolted for the Atlanta Falcons seven weeks ago. All told, these were the picks:

  • R1: J.J. McCarthy (QB, Michigan)
  • R1: Dallas Turner (EDGE, Alabama)
  • R4: Khyree Jackson (CB, Oregon)
  • R6: Walter Rouse (OT, Oklahoma)
  • R6: Will Reichard (K, Alabama)
  • R7: Michael Jurgens (C, Wake Forest)
  • R7: Levi Drake Rodriguez (DT, Texas A&M University-Commerce)
Draft Pick
Drake Levi Rodriguez. Undrafted free agent added by Minnesota Vikings after the 2024 NFL Draft from Texas A&M-Commerce. Rodriguez will compete for a roster spot this summer.

Most of Vikings’ football for the foreseeable future will be shaped by McCarthy’s maturation and development. Rightfully so. But beneath him on the draft depth chart, another possible “gem” lurks, and he’s the final pick, Levi Drake Rodriguez from Texas A&M University-Commerce.

Non-Texans have probably never heard of that school, but the purple team’s fans will become familiar if Drake Rodriguez effectuates ESPN’s recent prediction.

Image Courtesy of lionathletics.com. The Vikings drafted Drake Rodriguez in Round 7 of the 2024 NFL Draft, and he’ll compete for a roster spot this summer.

Field Yates sized up the draft this week, and regarding Drake Rodriguez, he called the defender “one of the draft’s hidden gems.” Yates also said Drake Rodriguez “has great burst that caught the eyes of scouts this past season, and Minnesota landed a potential sleeper here.”

Gem? Check. Sleeper? Check. That’s about the best prognosis for any 7th-Rounder anyone anywhere could ask for.

Meanwhile, Drake Rodriguez has the weird advantage of Minnesota’s depth chart at his disposal. He’ll have Brian Flores teaching him every step of the way, a built-in perk as a standalone situation. Then, Flores’ defense has no high-profile defensive tackles standing in Drake Rodriguez’s way, at least not on the current depth chart.

Next to Harrison Phillips on the defensive line, Minnesota is expected to showcase a summer camp battle between Jonathan Bullard, Jaquelin Roy, Jerry Tillery, and Jonah Williams.

Lottery Ticket QB
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Depending on how long it takes for Yates’ prediction to play out, Drake Rodriguez could show flashes of promise as soon as this summer and possibly sniff on-the-field action as a rookie.

During the draft’s lead-up, The 33rd Team described Drake Rodriguez’s scouting report: “Rodriguez is a high-upside, gap-shooting defensive tackle whose upper-body strength and quickness off the ball should allow him to be a productive rotational option at the next level, though he’ll need to improve his pad level and discipline to hit his ceiling.”

Vikings
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

If Yates is way out in left field and wrong about the man — 7th-Rounders are lottery tickets that rarely pan out — Calais Campbell is one of the final remaining reputable defensive tackles available in the NFL’s free-agent marketplace.

Vikings minicamp is less than five weeks away.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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