The Minnesota Vikings have prided themselves on building through the draft and, with less than three weeks to go until this year’s draft, the Vikings are preparing for the 2016 draft with the same basic model – build from within and make the most of the draft.
But what about the other teams in the NFC North? Have they built their franchises through the draft and how effective have they been?
For the purpose of this analysis, we go back the last four years and look at the number of draft picks each team has made – beyond four years players are eligible for free agency and those numbers can get diluted. From those picks, we examine how many became starters, how many remained with the team as backups, how many wound up with other teams and how many are out of football completely.
In that span, the Vikings have made 39 draft picks. Of those, 11 have become starters and 18 have become backups – giving the Vikings 74 percent remaining with the team. Of the other 10 picks, four are with other teams and six are out of football. In total, 85 percent of the Vikings’ draft picks remain in the NFL.
Over the last four years, Green Bay has made 36 draft picks. Of those, 11 have become starters and 14 have become backups – giving the Packers a percentage of 69 percent that remain with the team. Of the other 11 picks, three are with other teams and eight are out of football. In total, 78 percent of the Packers’ draft picks remain in the NFL.
In that span, Detroit has made 32 draft picks. Of those, 13 have become starters and 10 more have become backups – giving the Lions a percentage of 72 percent that remain with the team. Of the other nine picks, only two are with other teams and seven are out of football. In total, 78 percent of the Lions’ draft picks remain in the NFL.
Over the last four years, Chicago has made just 26 draft picks. Of those, nine became starters and nine became backups – giving the Bears a percentage of 69 percent that remain with the team. Of the other eight, two are with other teams and six are out of football. In total, 80 percent of the Bears draft picks remain in the NFL.
What make these numbers impressive from the Minnesota standpoint is that not only have the Vikings made more draft picks than the other teams, but those picks who have been able to live up to those expectations at a higher rate than the other teams in the division, which one wouldn’t think is the tendency because more picks mean more roster spots they need to take up and the majority of those additional picks are typically made in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds.
Of the other three teams in the division, it has been consistent – all three of them, despite a different number of picks, are all at 69 percent of the players they drafted over the last four years still being on the team. The Vikings are 5 percent higher, despite making three more picks than Green Bay, seven more than Detroit and 13 more than Chicago.
The numbers remain the same when it comes to players drafted by the Vikings that were still in the NFL as of the end of last season. The Packers and Lions both have 78 percent of their draft picks in the league and the Bears are slightly under 80 percent. The Vikings are 5 percent higher than Chicago and 7 percent ahead of Green Bay.
Given the number of draft picks the Vikings have made, it’s impressive that their hit rate of locating college talent and having them stick outweighs their division opponents.
This isn’t an indictment of the rest of the division, but more an endorsement of the job that general manager Rick Spielman and his scouting staff are doing.
You may not be familiar with some of the players the Vikings add to their roster in less than three weeks, but study up on them because most of them are going to be around for a while – whether with the Vikings or someone else.