Aug 12, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; A view of a Minnesota Vikings helmet at Paul Brown Stadium. The Vikings won 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
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11 picks within seven total rounds of the NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings were exceptionally busy during those three days.
Minnesota stunted their first three rounds with only two picks, but were able to gobble up mid-round talent making an insane amount of trades throughout day two and three.
To quickly run through those picks here they are, in the order they were picked; Dalvin Cook, Pat Elflein, Jaleel Johnson, Ben Gedeon, Rodney Adams, Danny Isidora, Bucky Hodges, Stacey Coley, Ifeadi Odenigbo, Elijah Lee, and Jack Tocho.
Overall the Vikings offense made out with six of those picks, defense coming in with a total of five. Obviously the weakest aspect of this Minnesota team is their offense. It’s been the story of this team since Mike Zimmer has taken over at head coach.
Offensive line needed a jolt of new energy, which they should get in third round prospect Pat Elflein and mid round guard Danny Isidora. Minnesota may have also found their replacement for Cordarrelle Patterson with the selection of Rodney Adams, but we’ll be the judge of that when the pre-season starts.
All that being said, a couple of picks stood out among the rest. Here are two, one being the most questionable, and the other being a spot on selection by general manager Rick Spielman and company.
Worst: Ben Gedeon, LB – Michigan (No. 120 Overall)
I like the decisiveness Ben Gedeon shows in the run game, and his ability to fight off blocks with ease and made quick decisions to plug holes. The thought here is that Minnesota doesn’t really have the need for another middle linebacker.
Erick Kendricks is the unquestioned starting middle linebacker of this team. He’s the most talented, and a leader among men in the locker room. I could understand this pick if Minnesota didn’t have depth behind him, but they do with Kentrell Brothers. Brothers led special teams in tackles and played very well when given the opportunity.
Minnesota may look to change things up in the base defense with their three linebacker set in which would put Anthony Barr and Erick Kendricks on the outside, and either Brothers or Gedeon in the middle. On nickel and sub packages, though, I wouldn’t expect to see Gedeon a whole heck of a lot.
Gedeon will need to make his money on special teams, and prove he belongs on this team during the preseason. The Vikings like to keep a decent amount of linebackers on the team, he would be competing with Emmanuel Lamur, Kentrell Brothers, Edmond Robinson, and Elijah Lee.
Elijah Lee may have been the steal of the draft with his skill-set. A quick outside linebacker with exceptional ball skills and coverage in space, he may be the tone setter for replacing the recently retired Chad Greenway.
This necessarily isn’t a bad pickup by Minnesota, but with two selections in the fourth round with other areas needing to be addressed, it was surprising to see the Vikings select a player at a position that wasn’t exactly in dire need.
Best: Dalvin Cook, RB – Florida State (No. 41 Overall)
It was the splashiest pick by the Vikings for sure, but was also the obvious one needed for team that just lost their most productive player from the last 10 years. Rick Spielman, and nor did anyone else think that Dalvin Cook would have fallen as far as he did in the 2017 NFL Draft. Many analysts had pegged this explosive back in the top 15, and a top-10 player overall.
This lightning in a bottle was the perfect selection for a team now minus their former future Hall-of-Fame running back Adrian Peterson. The newly signed Latavius Murray is still recovering from ankle surgery and Jerick McKinnon has proven to be what he is, a situational running back at best. Thus, Minnesota would be in a pickle if they didn’t pick a running back and Murray didn’t recover as expected.
Now Murray’s three-year contract looks more like a one-year rental as they get Dalvin Cook situated in Pat Shurmur’s offense. With both backs learning a new system, it wouldn’t surprise many if Cook did come out of camp the starting running back of this Vikings offense.
Vikings fans should be absolutely ecstatic about this selection moving forward for years to come. Cook has perennial Pro Bowl talent, let’s just hope this year the offensive line can create better avenues for these backs to create plays — and that Cook can stay healthy.