3-year analysis: Grading the Minnesota Vikings’ 2017 draft
When Teddy Bridgewater suffered a severe knee injury just weeks before the start of the 2016 regular season, Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman acted quickly and sent the team’s 2017 first-round pick (and a 2018 fourth-rounder) to Philadelphia for quarterback Sam Bradford.
Even without a first-rounder, Spielman ended up with 11 selections in the 2017 draft. Did this class pan out like the Vikings had hoped? Let’s get out that red pen and grade book. All marks are based on where the player was drafted and his production in Minnesota.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State (2nd round, No. 41 overall)
Cook is a top-tier running back in the NFL. He can truly do it all. Over 29 career games, Cook has rushed for 2,104 yards and hauled in 104 receptions for 914 yards while scoring 19 total touchdowns. When healthy, he’s the focal point of Minnesota’s offense. Unfortunately, Cook has been sidelined for 19 contests over his three-year career and hadn’t played more than 11 games in a single season before 2019. But there’s no disputing the Vikings found first-round talent at No. 41 overall.
Pat Elflein, C, Ohio State (3rd round, No. 70)
Elflein is an interesting case. The Ohio State product was named to the NFL’s All-Rookie team in 2017 after starting 14 games at center for the Vikings. He hit a bit of a slump as an NFL sophomore at center in 2018. When the Vikings selected center Garrett Bradbury in the first round last year, Elflein slid over to left guard and was by far the offense’s biggest liability. Is Elflein the quality lineman we watched in 2017 or the revolving door we witnessed in 2019? Set to be a free agent after the 2020 season, Elflein’s legacy in Minnesota is still undefined.
Jaleel Johnson, DT, Iowa (4th round, No. 109)
Sure, the Vikings defensive line has been blessed with All-Pro caliber talent like Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen. But what’s really made it the deepest position on the team has been guys like Johnson. Johnson has grown into his role, appearing in just five games as a rookie but 16 apiece in 2018 and 2019. Playing in 35.5% of the defensive snaps last season, Johnson compiled 29 tackles, 5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. He’s by no means a star, but productivity is exactly what you hope for with a fourth-round selection.
Ben Gedeon, LB, Michigan (4th round, No. 120)
Gedeon has provided the Vikings with solid depth behind Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks over the past three seasons. He logged 90 tackles in 31 games (17 starts) from 2017-18 before missing eight games in 2019 due to multiple concussions. The Vikings placed a second-round tender on linebacker Eric Wilson in the offseason, so it will be a question of whether Gedeon or Wilson will get the backup snaps moving forward. Either way, the Vikings got some value out of this pick.
Rodney Adams, WR, South Florida (5th round, No. 170)
The South Florida product was selected for his production at receiver — he set a USF single-season record with 67 receptions and 822 receiving yards as a senior — but also as a kick returner. Two-time All-Pro returner Cordarrelle Patterson had departed in free agency in the offseason, so the Vikings viewed Adams, who returned 46 kicks for 1,140 yards (24.8 average) and one touchdown in college, as a potential replacement. However, Adams never saw any game action with Minnesota and was waived in October. He was placed on the reserve/retired list by Indianapolis in 2018 but is officially making his return to the NFL (with the Colts) in 2020.
Danny Isidora, OG, Miami (5th round, No. 180)
Isidora played 21 games for Minnesota from 2017-18 and started three games at guard. But when the Vikings beefed up at the position before last season — signing Josh Kline, selecting Dru Samia in the draft and moving Elflein to guard — Isidora was the odd man out. The Vikings traded the South Florida native to Miami for a 2020 seventh-round pick before the 2019 season. Getting seventh-round value out of a seldom-used fifth-round pick … isn’t great.
Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech (6th round, No. 201)
Hodges boldly chose to wear No. 84 with the Vikings and vowed to live up to that number. Spoiler alert: He did not. Minnesota hoped Hodges, a 6-foot-6, 257-pound tight end who ran a 4.57 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, could pair with Kyle Rudolph at tight end and do some damage in the middle of the field. But Hodges was waived with an injury designation coming out of the preseason and has bounced around with Carolina, Pittsburgh, Washington and the New York Jets ever since, still waiting to make his NFL debut. Swing and a miss.
Stacy Coley, WR, Miami (7th round, No. 219)
Coley was active for four games as a rookie in 2017 and returned one kick for 19 yards. The Vikings waived him the following season and he appeared in one game for the New York Giants. Coley was last seen playing for Dallas and Tampa Bay in the XFL.
Ifeadi Odenigbo, DE, Northwestern (7th round, No. 220)
Spielman loves to select as many lottery tickets as he can in the seventh round. And once in a while, he hits. Odenigbo’s path in the NFL has been a strange one. Drafted as a defensive end, the Vikings moved Odenigbo to tackle in 2018 before sliding him back to the outside and then releasing him. He then signed with Cleveland, appeared in one game with Arizona and ended back on Minnesota’s practice squad in 2018. Odenigbo finally made the Vikings’ 53-man roster last fall and had a breakout season in a backup role, racking up 23 tackles, 7.0 sacks, seven tackles for loss and a defensive touchdown in 16 contests. With Everson Griffen departing in free agency, Odenigbo appears to be the starter at defensive end opposite Danielle Hunter in 2020.
Elijah Lee, LB, Kansas State (7th round, No. 232)
Lee was signed by San Francisco off Minnesota’s practice squad Sept. 13, 2017 and has spent the last three seasons with the 49ers as a contributor on special teams. He was active for all three of the Niners’ postseason games in 2019 and made two special-teams tackles in Super Bowl LIV.
Jack Tocho, CB, NC State (7th round, No. 245)
Tocho spent the majority of the 2017 season on the practice squad and was released at the end of training camp in 2018. He’s also been featured on the practice squads of Washington and Pittsburgh and on the field with the Birmingham Iron of the AAF and the Los Angeles Wildcats of the XFL.