When you miss the playoffs and you don’t even have a number-one pick in the next Draft, it can lead to dire straits, slumped shoulders and limited optimism. The NFL Draft can be a life-changer.
As ex-Minnesota governor turned actor, Jesse Ventura said, “I ain’t got time to bleed.” Not when you’re hosting Super Bowl 52. The Vikings continue to move forward, leaving the painful memories of a blown 5-0 start and third-place finish behind.
General Manager Rick Spielman made the best of a tough position. He identified the Vikings’ needs and desires in the Draft and worked his plan. Only seven offensive lineman were drafted among the top 64 players. That’s a record low.
Since 1961, there’s been no NFL Championships in Minnesota, Green Bay, Chicago (been there, done that) or Detroit with one playoff win since 1957. The Vikings believe they are close to being a championship football team. They were 8-8 in 2016 and have not been in this position since year four for Head Coach Mike Zimmer with zero playoff wins, Dennis Green in 1992-96. Green made the playoffs four straight years, yet the Vikings were 0-4 in the playoffs.
The Vikings went into last weekend’s Draft without a number-one pick knowing they had eight picks starting with number 48 of the second round. Spielman traded with Cincinnati to move up to number 41 and take Dalvin Cook, the gifted junior running back from Florida State.
“We’re very excited to get the quality of running back we were able to get,” Spielman said. “As we looked and he kept coming down the board, we felt that he was just too talented of a player not to take a swing and try to go up and get him. We feel that we have great value for where we were able to land Cook in the second round.”
He’s the highest drafted running back the Vikings have taken since Adrian Peterson in 2007. In three years, he rushed for 4,484 yards and 46 touchdowns, averaging 6.5 yards per carry. He’s versatile with 5,399 all-purpose yards, a game-breaker and a deep threat out of the backfield.
Character is important. Cook has been a follower. Why was he available and dropped in the Draft, you ask? Questionable choices raised character issues at Florida State. The Vikings believe they did their homework into his background and history. Time will tell if they were right or the teams that passed on him were wrong.
Spielman and company obviously worked hard adding depth and wound up drafting 11 players total over the weekend. They include center Pat Elflein (Ohio State), defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson (Iowa), linebacker Ben Gedeon (Michigan), wide receiver Rodney Adams (South Florida), guard Danny Isidora (Miami), tight end Bucky Hodges (Virginia Tech), wide receiver Stacy Coley (Miami), defensive end Ifeadl Odenigbo (Northwestern), linebacker Elijah Lee (Kansas State), and cornerback Jack Tocho (North Carolina State). All the players will be in town this week at Winter Park for Mini-Camp.
This Draft can best be described as risk-reward. The Vikings have added several talented young players with lots of potential.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.