Vikings will look again to have success outside first round
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.—General manager Rick Spielman says it's unlikely the Vikings will trade into the first round when the NFL draft gets underway Thursday.
And why should they?
Spielman has handled Minnesota drafts since 2007, and his record in the first round has been uneven. In later rounds, he and his staff have found their fair share of players who turned out much better than many of the higher-priced guys taken on the first day.
Defensive end Brian Robison was selected in the fourth round in 2007, defensive end Everson Griffen in the fourth in 2010 and tight end Kyle Rudolph in the second in 2011. The 2015 brought a bumper crop of later-round gems: linebacker Eric Kendricks (second), defensive end Danielle Hunter (third) and wide receiver Stefon Diggs (fifth).
The Vikings dealt this year's first-round pick as part of a deal to acquire quarterback Sam Bradford from Philadelphia last September. Barring a surprise move, Thursday will mark their first draft without a first-round pick since 2010.
The Vikings have eight picks in the draft, which runs through Saturday in Philadelphia, and are first scheduled to pick Friday in the second round at No. 48.
"If you go back over the history of the draft, you can find great guys who can come in (after the first round), especially on this team," said Rudolph, who went No. 43 overall. "There's guys that can come in here and make an impact on our football team."
Second-round picks are often driven by a chip on their shoulders, Rudolph said, because most believe they should have gone in the first-round. Rudolph siad that "absolutely'' was the case with him, saying he initially was "so bitter'' in 2011.
"Whether you get drafted high or late doesn't matter, it's about the opportunity given," Robison said. "You can come in and make a name for yourself."
Minnesota has two picks in the third round, two in the fourth and one apiece in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds.
The Vikings' needs are on the offensive line, especially at guard, and at running back, tight end, defensive tackle and linebacker. They also could select a defensive back, wide receiver or quarterback.
Candidates to be taken in the second round include Indiana guard Dan Feeney, Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara, North Carolina-Charlotte defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi and LSU linebacker Duke Riley
"I think the depth of this draft class, especially in some of the areas that we'll be looking at, are very significant," Spielman said. "I think through the mid-rounds, and for us to have an extra third, an extra fourth this year, is going to pay dividends for us."
Spielman said the Vikings have looked closely at players projected for the first round and will be making calls to teams if trade opportunities surface.
The draft is considered deep at running back and tight end, and there are a reasonable number of guards available. It is considered weak at offensive tackle.
"As you go down through the draft, you have to understand the depth of each position," Spielman said. "So, if you know (that) potentially you can get a position in the fourth round that may equate to that same value in a third round, then you may wait and take that position in the fourth round."
CBS draft analyst Dane Brugler said the Vikings could use the 48th pick on a player some teams have on their draft board as a first-round selection. "This year, when you look at it, I don't think there's any huge difference between picks 20 and 50," he said.
The second and third rounds will be held Friday. Hall of fame defensive tackle John Randle will announce the Vikings' second-round pick, and former safety Madieu Williams will do so for their initial third-round selection.
The final four rounds are Saturday. It was on the third day two years ago the Vikings took Diggs, who has developed into their top receiver.