The best of the Vikings draft...
1.32: QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
Maybe the best pick of the first round came at No. 32, when the Vikings moved back into the first round to take the draft's best quarterback. What a dream scenario for the Vikings, who gave up a fourth-round pick to move up eight spots (from 40 to 32) and secure a franchise quarterback. Bridgewater was harassed throughout the draft process, thanks mostly to a poor pro day, but his collegiate tape trumps all the other top throwers in this class, and he arrives in the NFL as far and away the most pro-ready. He could thrive under an offensive mind like Norv Turner, especially given the kind of supporting cast he'll be inheriting early on in Minnesota. This was a home run selection and a potential turning-point moment for the Vikings franchise.
1.9: LB Anthony Barr, UCLA
Unlike some, I hesitate to call this a reach, and for two reasons. One, Barr has all the upside in the world. He's an impressive athlete with raw, moldable tools, given he's only played on the defensive side for two years. Despite just 27 career games at outside linebacker, he still managed 23.5 sacks and 41.5 tackles for loss in the Pac-12. Second, he's going to a defense run by Mike Zimmer. If anyone in the league can turn a physical specimen like Barr into a player, it's Zimmer. And who is in position to question his eye for defensive talent? Watch Barr turn into a monster under Zimmer's watch.
3.72: DE Scott Crichton, Oregon State
Forty picks after Minnesota stole Bridgewater, the Vikings had Crichton fall into their lap at No. 72. He may never be a 10-sack player in the NFL, but his all-out effort and ability to hold the edge against the run are going to make him a favorite player of Mike Zimmer's. Keep in mind, Zimmer has always asked his ends to play the run first and rush the passer second. Crichton fits that mentality perfectly. At the very least, he'll be a valuable rotational player for the Vikings at defensive end. But he has starter traits and ability, and it wouldn't be at all surprising if he was playing a decent amount snaps early in his career.
5.145: G David Yankey, Stanford
The Vikings get a potential long-term starter at either left or right guard in Yankey, a massive lineman who also played at both tackle spots. He's a little slow on his feet, but he'll bring power and typical Stanford physicality to the Vikings line. Minnesota is very good up front already, but the two guard spots had room for improvement. Yankey has starter ability, and it wouldn't be at all surprising if he's playing alongside center John Sullivan at some point in 2014. The Vikings again got great value here.
6.182: CB/S Antone Exum, Virginia Tech
Exum wouldn't have been an option for Minnesota at No. 182 had he not shredded his knee early in 2013. He returned but wasn't the same player as a senior. The Vikings are drafting him hoping he'll be more of the guy he was in 2012, when he dominated receivers at the line of scrimmage and had elite production on the football (16 pass breakups, five interceptions). Either Exum won't ever be the same post-injury, or he just needed a year to get his legs back under him. If he returns to his 2012 form, the Vikings will get a starting-level NFL cornerback in the sixth round. Exum also has safety potential.
7.223: OLB Brandon Watts, Georgia Tech
In the seventh round, you can roll the dice and gamble on a player. Watts is the ideal shot in the dark. He doesn't have great size (225 pounds), but few linebackers in this draft are faster or more fluid stopping and starting. His rare athletic traits are worth molding as a seventh-rounder. And, at the very worst, he could become a terror on special teams.