Following draft weekend 2010, Viking Update took a little criticism for the headline to our post-draft magazine, which said, "Draft For Depth?" It wasn't a shot at the organization. At the time, the Vikings were convinced Brett Favre was coming back for a second season and the team was returning all 22 starters from a team that kept itself out of the Super Bowl.
We all know how that turned out, but it was the thought process at the time. The draft class of 2010 was supposed to be stepping into a situation where they could get a Super Bowl ring early in their careers and have that piece of NFL immortality. But perhaps no draft in Vikings history has been as miscast and ill-conceived as 2010 – and it got the avalanche of bad rolling downhill and gaining steam.
Friday's announcement that Joe Webb had signed with the Carolina Panthers (as a quarterback) brought into focus how accurate that 2010 headline question was. The Vikings had eight picks in the 2010 draft and, despite having solid depth on the roster, all but one of them (LB Nate Triplett) made the team. It didn't take long for TE Mickey Shuler, G Chris DeGeare and FB Ryan D'Imperio to follow Triplett out the door. But just four years later, the sole survivor of the Class of 2010 is Everson Griffen, who likely would have been snapped up had he hit the open market.
Considering Griffen was a fourth-round pick, that's saying something. By just about any estimation, the 2010 draft has to be viewed as largely a bust, because the Vikings entered the draft with picks in each of the seven rounds and the only guy left is the fourth-rounder.
The Vikings traded out of the first round thinking they were the smartest guys in the room. Detroit wanted Cal RB Jahvid Best (imagine what Lions fans think now of that decision) and a deal was struck that included giving the Vikings the second pick in both the second and fourth rounds.
The "Wolf of War Room" significance of that was that it happened in the first year in which the first round of the draft was held in prime time on a Thursday. There would only be one round on the first day, and if teams had a player they truly coveted, the Vikings put themselves in an ideal position (behind only St. Louis) to make a trade. If not, they had a night to take another look at the remainder of their draft board to get a player they could use to fill in depth.
They never traded either of those picks (translation: nobody offered anything of value). But it should be noted that moving up in the fourth round allowed them to select Griffen, who had a second-round draft grade if not for some off-field red flags in college. As things stand, he's the only player remaining from the entire draft class and his future was far from secure when he arrived with a bad-boy reputation and the no-nonsense Brad Childress in charge.
The Vikings' first pick in 2010 was Chris Cook and, as most fans can attest, his next full season will be his first full season and his next NFL interception will be his first NFL interception. He never lived up to expectations and is in San Francisco on a team-friendly contract that is effectively worthless if he gets cut at some point.
The most curious pick of the draft came when the Vikings traded up, giving up their second- and third-round picks to Houston to move up 11 picks and select Toby Gerhart. While he was a valuable role player, when you have the game's most dominant player at his position, you don't give away two draft picks to move up and take a player who, under ideal circumstances, won't be on the field. It's still a management move that baffles logic. Gerhart lived up to his deal. Peterson remained dominant. Gerhart left Minnesota without ever getting a chance to be a full-time running back.
Griffen came in the fourth round and, after getting off to a slow start, increased his role and leadership on the defense and became the only player from the 2010 draft class that the Vikings offered a second contract.
The lowest remaining pick was Webb, who left Friday for Carolina. Toward the end of last season, Webb was somewhat philosophical about his NFL future.
A small-college quarterback who was told his NFL future was at wide receiver, was a sixth-round pick of the Vikings. But in his first practice minicamp running routes, Chilly had an idea. Let's make him our No. 3 quarterback. The next day, he was wearing a red practice jersey. For the next three years, he was a quarterback – ideally the No. 3 quarterback. After three years taken away from his potential development as a receiver, Webb was shifted to wide receiver last year and produced little. Interestingly, the talk in Carolina is that Webb was added for depth behind Cam Newton because, unlike the Vikings, Carolina has an offense suited to Webb's ideal skill set.
In the end, the Vikings' most expensive signing of the offseason was to keep Griffen. Cook was miscast for a passive, reaction-based Cover-2 defense because it took away his best advantage – running downfield and breaking up passes with his height, long arms and leaping ability. Gerhart was a plow horse that needed to work up a sweat to be dominant. He rarely got 10 carries, not the 20-25 he was used to and expecting to get when he entered the draft. Webb had his productivity taken away from him by design.
Maybe the 2010 draft was a precursor to the 2010 season. It stunk like sour milk. Favre limped out quietly into the sunset. Chilly was unemployed and Rick Spielman began to monopolize draft day power. The architects and quality control guys at the Metrodome had some ‘splaining to do when the roof they signed off on collapsed. Home games were played in Detroit and TCF Bank Stadium. A road game was played on a Tuesday. Randy Moss came and went.
No doubt about it. 2010 was big hot mess of a season. With the Carolina signing of Webb, the curse may finally be lifted – for those who got away and for those who remain or have arrived since. It was a big steaming bucket full of wrong from start to finish and it would appear that the last vestiges of the problems that began in April and ended in December has finally been scabbed over and closed.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
With Webb gone, Griffen last of 2010 draft
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