Vikings Landed a Sleeper, and It’s Much-Needed

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.

The Minnesota Vikings draft class 2024 was the third under general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s watch. His first group was disappointing, and his second one featured some valuable contributors like wideout Jordan Addison and linebacker Ivan Pace. Dallas Turner and J.J. McCarthy are the highlights of the 2024 acquisitions, but the GM has added some potential sleepers late in the draft.

Vikings Landed a Sleeper, and It’s Much-Needed

Vikings Landed a Sleeper, and It's Well-Needed
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

After virtually skipping the draft Friday because the picks were used to add Turner and tight end T.J. Hockenson, Adofo-Mensah made five picks on Saturday in rounds four through seven.

Cornerback Khyree Jackson headlined the five additions. He is an older prospect with intriguing physical tools and an excellent season in 2023 at Oregon. Oklahoma’s left tackle Walter Rouse and center Michael Jurgens can be depth linemen for the Vikings, while kicker Will Reichard has been outstanding in his college career.

However, ESPN’s Field Yates views the final pick as a steal. He seems to be a fan of defensive tackle Levi Drake Rodriguez, and he listed him as one of his five steals in the draft’s final round.

One of the draft’s hidden gems, Rodriguez finished his college career at Texas A&M-Commerce and just destroyed opposing interior offensive lines during his time there. He has great burst that caught the eyes of scouts this past season, and Minnesota landed a potential sleeper here. He had 5.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss in 2023.

Field Yates, ESPN

After three years playing at SAGU (Southwestern Assemblies of God) in the NAIA’s Sooner Athletic Conference in Texas, he spent the last two seasons at Texas A&M Commerce in the FCS, where he was named FCS All-American in 2023. The program had just been elevated from D2 to D1 FCS when he got there in 2022.

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

Rodriguez is an interior pass-rusher, something the Vikings desperately need. He plays with the heart required to make a splash as a late-round pick who has only played at lower-level competition. Pro Football Focus ranked him third among all FCS interior defenders in defensive grade and first in pass-rush grade.

Vikings Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Ryan Grigson said about the new defender after the draft:

He’s quick, he can get underneath the pads of the offensive lineman. He can yank him, throw him; there’s just a lot in his body and I feel like once our coaches get their hands on him, I think Kwesi would even tell you he has a lot of savvy already as a pass rusher. That’s not very common from where he’s been.

Ryan Grigson

Because he plays a position the Vikings need and has the skill set of a player the team doesn’t have, he could be a name to watch in the summer, although seventh-rounders are always underdogs to make any noise.

Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports.

Besides nose tackle Harrison Phillips, the Vikings re-signed Jonathan Bullard, and last year’s fifth-rounder Jaquelin Roy returns. In free agency, the team added veterans Jerry Tillery and Jonah Williams.

Rodriguez must beat out one or two of those guys in training camp to make the team, but he might have a shot if he can show some flashes.

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