The needs are in abundance for the Minnesota Vikings as they enter the 2017-18 season, but will they find a way into the first round in the 2017 NFL Draft?
As many Minnesota Vikings fans already know, general manager Rick Spielman has a reputation to wheel and deal during the draft. He doesn’t always move up, sometimes allowing quantity to overrule all and trading back to garner picks. This draft though, has to be different.
Minnesota is a year removed from the playoffs. Expecting leaps into possible Super Bowl contention entering into 2016-17, the purple and gold regressed dreadfully after the bye last season after suffering multiple key injuries.
Spielman got desperate when then starting quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, suffered a gruesome knee injury not long before the season opener. Minnesota traded this year’s first-round pick for Sam Bradford, a very bold move which paid off for the most part — but didn’t pay off with an 8-8 record. Now Spielman eyes a roster with many holes on both sides of the ball, with needs at guard, wide receiver, running back, defensive line, outside linebacker, and punter.
Specifically, this team almost needs to score on a guard in the draft that can start immediately, or someone who can swing inside from tackle or outside from center. The 2017 NFL Draft lacks at what the Vikings need the most: offensive lineman.
Minnesota saw the most turnover along their offensive line in the league. Left tackles were in and out of the lineup quicker then they could call one up. T.J. Clemmings swung over to a side he’s never played in his career, and it showed. Minnesota couldn’t run the rock, nor could they score in the red zone.
With a weak draft class at offensive line, if a certain tackle or guard falls enough in the draft do not be surprised to hear that the Vikings are making calls. Are we talking trying to jump into the top 15? Highly unlikely. The cost to swing that deal could very well set the Vikings back in this draft and in the next.
Look for anywhere between the 22nd and 32nd picks in the draft for Minnesota’s name to start entering conversation, specifically if tackles Cam Robinson and Ryan Ramczyk, or guard Forrest Lamp fall on the board. Any of those three offensive lineman would be worth the price of admission if the Vikings seem fit. Another surprise player to keep tabs on is Jabrill Peppers.
Peppers’ name is all over the place in projections and mock drafts. No one knows where this athletically gifted Michigan star will end up, but if Spielman can make it work, Zimmer could turn Peppers into a star.
Imagine a secondary with an athletic pounder like Peppers at the strong safety position, while allowing Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith to roam without restrictions. As of now, Smith has to make up in so many areas that he’s not really given the free will to be the ball-hawk Vikings fans know he can be.
Jayron Kearse showed some potential last year, but may be a backup at best. Andrew Sendejo should, quite frankly, be a backup rather than a starter; Peppers would create competition immediately at the position and allow Minnesota to move on from Sendejo’s remaining deal that costs them $4 million per year.
In all likelihood, will this happen? Who knows. In the back of our minds as Minnesota fans with Spielman in charge, all the cards are on the table. A pick in the first round or not, the Vikings should not be ignored the first night of festivities.