Rick Spielman Reveals His Opinion of Vikings Draft

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The Vikings transitioned from general manager Rick Spielman to Kwesi Adofo-Mensah in 2022 after the second consecutive season without a playoff appearance. Some internal struggles even increased the need for the move in addition to the shaky product on the field. Spielman built some strong teams in his tenure, but like every GM, he made some mistakes, too.

Rick Spielman Reveals His Opinion of Vikings Draft

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With various fantastic drafts, Spielman laid the foundation for the excellent teams in the second half of the 2010s, between 2012 and 2015. He consistently found contributors and star players throughout the drafts. Later in his tenure, though, some underwhelming drafts resulted in a weakened roster.

His successor started his tenure with the infamous 2022 class, which featured Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth, two highly-touted prospects who haven’t met expectations. A better 2023 haul was followed by a splashy 2024 group headlined by first-rounders J.J. McCarthy and Dallas Turner, for whom Adofo-Mensah traded up.

mock draft
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) warms up before the Ohio State game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Spielman opined on Minnesota’s class on the SiriusXM NFL radio:

I think they did a really good job, especially in the first round. To make sure that they did get J.J. McCarthy, as a general manager, you have to weigh risk and reward. Do you just stay there and hope that he falls to you? But I did hear from a pretty reliable source that they were very aggressive with New England trying to get to that number three overall pick and Drake Maye. That would’ve been a blockbuster deal.

But they weren’t able to do that and I think they are excited about J.J. McCarthy. I think he’ll be a great fit in Kevin O’Connell’s offense, and I think they ended up with one of the premier pass-rushers, which they desperately needed after Danielle Hunter and D.J. Wonnum were gone, even though they signed Van Ginkel and Jonathan Greenard, they still needed a young pass-rusher and I think they got that in Dallas Turner.

Rick Spielman

Trading a pair of late-round draft picks to ensure getting the number one player on their draft board was a reasonable move. McCarthy was rumored to be a top-five draft choice but ultimately ended up as the tenth overall pick.

Sam Darnold
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Drake Maye was viewed as Minnesota’s favorite prospect, but the Patriots wouldn’t budge, and the Vikings are certainly happy with McCarthy. The 21-year-old has all the requisite physical tools he needs to develop into one of the better passers in the NFL, although it might take him some time to arrive at that level. Seeing Sam Darnold enter the season as the team’s starter would neither be shocking nor surprising.

Dallas Turner to Minnesota was generally regarded as unlikely to happen before the draft. He was the favorite to be the first defender taken, and most viewed him as a top-ten pick. He was a frequent choice in mock drafts as Atlanta’s eighth pick, but that was spent on QB Michael Penix instead.

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Turner can immediately enter the rotation with Greenard and Van Ginkel. The group’s versatility allows them to be on the field together, and having a trio to rotate is also an advantage, so all three should play a significant role in 2024.

The Vikings also added five players on day three of the draft. While the class will be evaluated based on the first two picks, especially McCarthy’s trajectory, which will guide the opinions, finding contributors on draft Saturdays is crucial to building a championship roster. Cornerback Khyree Jackson joined in the fourth round, followed by offensive tackle Walter Rouse, kicker Will Reichard, center Michael Jurgens, and defensive tackle Levi Drake Rodriguez.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt