Vikings Draft Picks 2017: Results, Grades and Analysis for Each Selection
The wait is over—NFL draft day has finally arrived.
Dreams will be realized and scouting reports will be put to the test when the first round officially opens Thursday at 7 p.m. CT/8 p.m. ET in Philadelphia. The Minnesota Vikings, however, will likely have to wait until Friday evening to participate in all the madness.
Rick Spielman had a crucial decision to make late last August when quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was lost for the season due to a knee injury. Backed into a corner, the Vikings general manager swapped his 2017 first-round pick for then-Philadelphia Eagles signal-caller Sam Bradford. In an instant, Minnesota was given new life in 2016 at the cost of what ultimately proved to be the No. 14 overall pick.
As a result, Thursday will likely be uneventful for the Vikings and their fans with the team not scheduled to make its first selection until midway through the second round. But with Spielman at the helm and three top-100 picks (Nos. 48, 79 and 86) in his arsenal, a seemingly quiet evening could conceivably quickly turn into chaos at a moment's notice.
Round 2, Pick 41: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Minnesota did not make a selection on opening night, but general manager Rick Spielman still found a way to add a prospect of first-round quality in superstar Florida State running back Dalvin Cook.
Having waited long enough to make his first selection in 2017, Spielman sent pick Nos. 48 and 129 (acquired in a draft-day trade with the Miami Dolphins last year) to the Cincinnati Bengals in order to move up seven spots to add Adrian Peterson's successor with the No. 41 overall pick. Cook is set to join a crowded running back depth chart that includes the recently signed Latavius Murray, 2014 third-round pick Jerick McKinnon, 2014 Tennessee Titans second-round selection Bishop Sankey and Augustana (Division II) product C.J. Ham.
Cook, a three-year starter for the Seminoles, was widely considered a first-round talent, but according to NFL.com's Kevin Patra, off-field concerns stemming from a series of issues during his tenure at Florida State saw him fall completely out of the first round to the midway point of the second round when Spielman put an end to his slide. His off-field affairs do not extend to the field, however, as Cook has been regarded as an excellent teammate and positive presence in the locker room.
Over the course of three years and 38 games at Florida State, Cook produced 4,464 rushing yards, 46 rushing touchdowns, 79 receptions, 935 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns for a combined total of 5,399 yards from scrimmage and 48 scores. Cook received shoulder surgery ahead of his final campaign with the Seminoles, and while he still was able to participate in 13 games, the ongoing ailment followed him throughout the draft process.
His testing results at the 2017 NFL combine were impressive despite his shoulder still giving him trouble, as Cook turned in a 4.49-second 40-yard dash, 22 bench press reps, a 30.5-inch vertical leap, a 116-inch broad jump, a 7.27-second three-cone time and a 4.53-second 20-yard shuttle.
The Vikings, as previously noted, recently added 2016 Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray during free agency, but the team remained adamant about acquiring a rookie rusher to upgrade a ground attack that finished dead last in the NFL in rushing efficiency (3.2 yards per attempt) this past season. Minnesota certainly did not hide its interest, as its scouting department either interviewed or scheduled a private workout with 12 different running back prospects over the past month—none which were Cook.
Minnesota's selection of Cook will inherently throw the soon-to-be rookie into the extremely difficult and comparison-heavy role of following a Vikings legend and future Hall-of-Famer. While he'll need to improve in pass protection to perfect his three-down skill set, Cook's elite rushing talent, polished receiving skills and game-breaking "second gear" has him primed for a high-impact rookie season—expectations that were also charged to and ultimately fulfilled by Peterson one decade ago.
"Growing up watching Adrian Peterson," Cook said, "[he is] one of the great running backs I've ever watched, it was something special. To go to the team that he played for is still unreal ... I'm just going to come in, work hard to be the best Dalvin I can be."
Round 3, Pick 70: Pat Elflein, C/OG, Ohio State
The Vikings, who spectated Thursday night's opening round, have wasted little time addressing their roster needs on Day 2 of the draft. After upgrading its backfield with Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, Minnesota selected Ohio State interior offensive lineman Pat Elflein with the No. 70 overall pick, further improving what was an abysmal rushing attack in 2016.
Spielman, who is well known for coordinating draft-day trades, did not want to risk losing out on the three-year starter from Ohio State. For the second time in as many rounds, the Vikings general manager moved up to nail down his target prospect. Minnesota acquired the 70th overall pick used to draft Elflein from the New York Jets in exchange for pick No. 86 and a non-disclosed 2017 selection.
Elflein, who redshirted during his first year on campus, spent two seasons at guard (both left and right) before transitioning to center ahead of his final campaign to optimize the Buckeyes offensive line.
In addition to the positional versatility and experience he offers, Elflein boasts a long and impressive list of intangible traits highlighted a notable work ethic and leadership. He was named to the All-Big Ten three times and also earned a second-team All-American nod from the Associated Press.
Minnesota entered the draft with well-documented needs along its offensive line. Elflein, who stands at 6'3" and tips the scale at 303 pounds, is a bit undersized, but he makes up for it with long arms (33 ½ inches) and arguably the most refined blocking technique in the class.
"One of the most technically advanced offensive lineman in this draft," NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock said. "He's not the best athlete in the world, but he's technically proficient. He's one of those guys that will play 10 years in the NFL. I love the fact that he can play center and both guards. Really solid pick by the Vikings."
The Ohio State offensive line product shares the pro-ready distinction with the previously-selected Cook, making it two picks and two potential Week 1 starters at positions of need for the Vikings. It is unclear whether Elflein will play guard or center in Minnesota, but the former Buckeyes captain made his intentions explicitly clear—regardless of what position he plays.
"Whatever the team needs," Elflein said. "I want to help contribute to whatever I can, whether it's at guard or center, I can do either."
Round 4, Pick 109: Jaleel Johnson, DT, Iowa
Rick Spielman spent a lot of the third round working the phones, which ultimately resulted in the Vikings entering the final day of the NFL draft with three fourth-round picks, one sixth-rounder and a pair of seventh-round selections. For the third time in as many rounds, the Vikings general manager added a talented prospect at a position of need, selecting Iowa defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson with the second pick of the fourth round.
Minnesota, which recently learned that 2013 first-round pick Sharrif Floyd may have suffered a career-ending injury during an operation, first addressed its defensive tackle depth with the addition of former Green Bay Packer Datone Jones during free agency. Needing to add both talent and youth to an aging defensive tackle depth chart, Spielman wasted little time submitting his selection.
Johnson, a 6'3", 316-pound 3-technique, was an easy choice for the Vikings at No. 109 overall. He started 34 games during his four-year tenure with the Hawkeyes, amassing 113 combined tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, three passes defensed and one fumble recovery.
His production at Iowa was impressive, but a subpar performance at the NFL combine didn't do his volatile draft stock any favors. Johnson turned in a 5.38-second 40-yard dash, 19 bench press reps, a 28-inch vertical leap, a 100-inch broad jump, a 7.64-second three-cone drill and a 4.62-second 20-yard shuttle.
The former Hawkeye makes up for his lack of superior athleticism with a high motor and excellent hand usage. Johnson will likely begin his tenure in Minnesota rotating in and out with veteran Tom Johnson. He isn't dominant enough as a pass-rusher to be a high-impact rookie, but Johnson should have little issue producing results for the Vikings in 2017.
Round 4, Pick 120: Ben Gedeon, LB, Michigan
Eleven picks removed from adding depth to a shaky defensive tackle depth chart, Rick Spielman and the Vikings added Michigan's Ben Gedeon to fill the opening vacated by the retired Chad Greenway.
The Vikings, who also lost veteran spot-starter Audie Cole during free agency, were in desperate need of fresh blood at linebacker. In addition to supplementing Minnesota's linebacker depth chart, Gedeon, who started 40 games throughout a four-year tenure at Michigan, has multiple years of experience on special teams. Having lost a handful of special team performers during free agency, Gedeon's instinctive, fearless personality is a welcomed addition for Mike Priefer's special teams units.
Gedeon produced 164 combined tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and a pair of pass defenses throughout his career at Michigan. The former Wolverine built on his solid production numbers with an impressive performance at the NFL combine.
He turned in a 4.75-second 40-yard dash, an outstanding 27 bench press reps, a 34.5-inch vertical leap, a 119-inch broad jump and a 6.98-second three-cone drill before putting an exclamation mark on his weekend with a 4.13-second 20-yard shuttle and 11.58-second 60-yard shuttle.
Gedeon is unlikely to play an impact role on defense anytime soon, but the Michigan product has the potential to quickly establish himself as a special teams ace. Minnesota had an opportunity to select a high-ceiling linebacker prospect, like Tennesee's Jalen Reeves-Maybin for example, but ultimately decided to play it safe with the low-ceiling, high-floor talent of Gedeon.
Through four rounds, Minnesota has selected two offensive prospects (Dalvin Cook, Pat Elflein) and two defensive prospects (Jaleel Johnson, Gedeon) with a handful of picks still to be made.
Round 5, Pick 170: Rodney Adams, WR, South Florida
Rick Spielman prolonged his third selection of the day with a flurry of trades before finally settling on South Florida wide receiver Rodney Adams with the No. 170 overall pick.
Adams, who spent his freshman year at Toledo before finding a home at South Florida as a sophomore, is an explosive athlete with the speed and field vision to turn a short reception into a long touchdown. Adams can be lethal with the ball in his hands, but similar to the recently departed Cordarrelle Patterson, finding ways to manufacture touches without telegraphing the play could prove difficult.
He totaled 134 receptions, 1,961 receiving yards, 16 receiving touchdowns, 39 carries, 375 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns for a combined total of 2,336 yards from scrimmage and 23 scores at South Florida. Adams also excelled as a kick return specialist at South Florida, as his 44 returns yielded a 25.5 average and one touchdown.
The former USF Bull put together an interesting roller-coaster performance at the NFL combine. His 4.44-second 40-yard dash and 125-inch broad jump reinforced his explosive talent, but his eight bench press reps and 29.5-inch vertical leap instantly raised concerns about his ability to win the physical battle at wide receiver.
With Patterson now a member of the Oakland Raiders, Adams should be a near-lock to return kicks for the Vikings in 2017. He will need time to develop as a wide a receiver, but manufactured touches and simple route concepts certainly are not out of the question.
Round 5, Pick 180: Danny Isidora, OG, Miami
Minnesota addressed its work-in-progress offensive line with Ohio State's Pat Elflein during the third round before tabling the rebuilding process until Rick Spielman selected Miami offensive guard Danny Isidora with the 180th overall pick.
Mike Zimmer confirmed that Elflein will likely begin his professional career at center, leaving a suspect depth chart unchanged until Isidora's selection. As a result, the Miami product should have an opportunity to compete with Willie Beavers and Jeremiah Sirles for a starting role immediately—and winning the gig should not be considered out of the question.
The 6'3", 306-pound Isidora possesses the adequate size and plus-athleticism, and he finishes his blocks through the whistle. He wins one-on-ones with good lateral agility, positional intelligence and instinctive hand usage, but it is his motor and visible passion that set Isidora apart from his peers.
He started 39 consecutive games for the Hurricanes over the past three seasons, showing both his durability and mental toughness throughout his collegiate career. Isidora lacks superior physical gifts and athletic traits, but his intangible qualities and approach to the game could guide him to a long, successful professional career. Isidora is by no means an elite offensive guard prospect, but his pro-readiness and starter traits make him an excellent value pick in the fifth round.
Round 6, Pick 201: Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech
In a matter of just a couple of months Minnesota's tight end depth chart went from definitively loaded to potentially limited. The Vikings first lost MyCole Pruitt to the waiver wire midway through the 2016 season, and then longtime blocking specialist Rhett Ellison bolted to the New York Giants during free agency.
Still, tight end does not represent a dire need for the Vikings with Kyle Rudolph and David Morgan holding down a depleted depth chart, but the size-speed combination of Virginia Tech's Bucky Hodges makes him a perfect late-round pick.
Hodges—who stands at a hulking 6'6", tips the scales at 257 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds—is a bona fide freak of nature. He is an extremely raw prospect with only three years of football experience, but his natural gifts alone made him unstoppable at times for the Hokies. He finished his three-year, 39-game collegiate career with 133 catches, 1,747 receiving yards and 20 receiving touches. Hodges also received carries on occasion, recording 89 yards and a score on 21 rush attempts.
As expected, Hodges dominated at the NFL combine, ranking at or near the top in the 40-yard dash (4.57 seconds), vertical leap (39 inches) and broad jump (134 inches) effectively solidifying his status as an explosive, downfield weapon.
The Virginia Tech product will need to improve in a number of areas if he is to honor the tight end positional title, but Hodges could still have an immediate impact in Minnesota as a red-zone specialist. His humongous frame in combination with his downright absurd 39-inch vertical makes Hodges as great of a mismatch as anyone—especially in a contained space.
Even if Hodges amounts to nothing more than a glorified wide receiver listed as a tight end, he can still be a valuable asset to a Vikings team that hasn't had a jump-ball specialist on its roster since Sidney Rice departed for the Seattle Seahawks.
Round 7, Pick 219: Stacy Coley, WR, Miami
With the first of its four scheduled seventh-round picks, Minnesota addressed its depleted wide receiver depth chart by selecting lightning-quick Miami wide receiver Stacy Coley.
Coley's four-year, 48-game tenure with the Miami Hurricanes was rather underwhelming as a whole, but the 6'0", 195-pound wide receiver occasionally flashed game-breaking talent. His relatively small frame and lack of NFL-caliber strength may force him inside at the professional level.
Nevertheless, Coley's 4.45-second 40-yard dash and "second gear" in the open field could provide Minnesota with the vertical threat it has been seeking this offseason. The former Hurricane will never be a high-volume pass-catcher, but he has made a career out of making the most out of his touches, as proved by his 13.4 per-catch average.
Round 7, Pick 220: Ifeadi Odenigbo, DE, Northwestern
In a move that should not shock anyone, Rick Spielman and the Vikings spent their second 7th-round pick on 6'3", 258-pound edge-rusher Ifeadi Odenigbo.
Odenigbo, who started 37 games in four years for the Northwestern Wildcats, is a pass-rushing specialist with an off-the-charts explosion index. At the NFL combine, Odenigbo turned in a 4.72-second 40-yard dash, 31.5-inch vertical leap and 128-inch broad jump, establishing himself as an intriguing developmental prospect.
He recorded 61 combined tackles, 26.5 tackles for loss and an impressive 23.5 sacks. According to NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein, Odenigbo produced a higher quarterback pressure rate than Dallas Cowboys first-round pick Taco Charlton.
Odenigbo will have to significantly improve as a run-stopper to play consistent snaps at the professional level, but his pass-rushing talent and elite athletic gifts make him a high-ceiling prospect and ideal seventh-round selection.
Round 7, Pick 232: Elijah Lee, LB, Kansas State
Elijah Lee spent a long time waiting for a phone call, but the Vikings ultimately made good on their predraft interest in the Kansas State linebacker by selecting him with their third seventh-round pick of the afternoon.
Lee played three seasons filling out the stat sheet for the Wildcats, as he recorded 209 combined tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, five interceptions, five passes defensed, three fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles in 35 collegiate games.
The Kansas State product possesses a wide range of skills, but he will need time to develop and improve his efficiency as a tackler. Similar to Odenigbo, Lee is a bit of a developmental project and likely won't record many snaps on defense during his rookie season, but the former Wildcat should have little issue carving out a a role on special teams.
If Mike Zimmer can tap into his potential and polish his skills, Lee may one day develop into a playmaking linebacker and definitive seventh-round steal.
Round 7, Pick 245: Jack Tocho, CB, North Carolina State
Minnesota entered the draft with eight selections, but as he has done so many times in the past, Rick Spielman somehow found a way to collect double-digit selections over the course of the three-day event. With their fourth seventh-round pick and final selection of the 2017 NFL draft, the Vikings finally added to their cornerback depth chart with North Carolina State defensive back Jack Tocho.
The 6'0", 202-pound Tocho fits the mold of previously selected cornerbacks during the Mike Zimmer era. His testing results—a 4.54-second 40-yard dash, 35-inch vertical leap and 21 bench press reps—in combination with his frame make him the latest size-speed cornerback added to Zimmer's collection.
Similar to most seventh-round picks, Tocho is a raw, development project unlikely to make an impact during his rookie season. His six interceptions and 26 passes defensed in 45 games at North Carolina State argue that he is a defensive back worth refining, but at first glance, Tocho seems destined to spend his rookie campaign on a practice squad.
Vikings Cumulative Draft Grade: A