After losing several veterans and being part-time participants in free agency, the Minnesota Vikings have a lot of roster spots to fill and the presumption is that it will need to come from the draft.
Over the last 10 years the Vikings have made 82 draft picks. Where they have made those selections and how they’ve done it speaks volumes about where the team has invested.
Here’s the positional breakdown of where those picks have come:
Quarterback (5) – Two 1st round, one 5th, one 6th, one 7th. Christian Ponder and Teddy Bridgewater were both viewed as franchise QBs in 2011 and 2014, respectively, and the others have all been Day 3 projects – and all of those came before 2011.
Running Back/Fullback (5) – One 1st, one 2nd, one 3rd, one 4th, one 7th. Adrian Peterson was the only first-rounder and that was 10 years ago. Day 2 backs included Toby Gerhart (2nd) and Jerick McKinnon (3rd). The Day 3 guys were both fullbacks.
Wide Receiver (11) – Three 1st, one 2nd, two 4th, two 5th, two 6th, one 7th. The Vikings have invested heavily here, drafting Percy Harvin, Cordarrelle Patterson and Laquon Treadwell in the first round and Sidney Rice in the second round. The team has averaged more than one WR a year, so the odds are pretty good that they will go after one later this month.
Tight End (4) – One 2nd, one 5th, one 6th, one 7th. Aside from Kyle Rudolph in 2011, the team hasn’t made any significant investment in the position.
Offensive Tackle (6) – One 1st, one 2nd, one 4th, two 6th, one 7th. The team has picked just two OTs in the first three rounds over the last decade – Matt Kalil in the first round and Phil Loadholt in the 2nd. With as many tackles taken in the last two rounds as the first five, it has been a position largely ignored, despite having moderate success when they do invest in it early.
Guard (6) – One 4th, two 5th, two 6th, one 7th. It is relatively shocking that the Vikings haven’t taken a guard on Day 1 or 2 over the last decade and the results have been self-evident. The Vikings have had mediocre in-house guard play for almost that entire period because they haven’t made a significant investment there.
Center (1) – One 6th. When they selected John Sullivan, they didn’t need to go back to that well too often.
Defensive End (7) – Two 3rd, two 4th, one 6th, two 7th. The Vikings’ success at defensive end has actually gone against the odds, since they haven’t used a first- or second-round pick on the position in the last decade. The top of their rotation includes a third-rounder (Danielle Hunter) and two fourth-rounders (Everson Griffen and Brian Robison).
Defensive Tackle (5) – One 1st, one 4th, one 5th, two 7th. Sharrif Floyd is the only defensive tackle the team has drafted in the first two days over the last decade, which, combined with the lack of high picks at defensive end, makes it interesting how well those positions have played.
Linebacker (13) – One 1st, one 2nd, one 4th, three 5th, two 6th, five 7th. Linebackers are always viewed as athletic core special teams players, which explains why nine of the 13 LBs have come in the last two rounds. The only two taken in the first two rounds are current starters Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks.
Cornerback (11) – Two 1st, two 2nd, three 3rd, one 5th, two 6th, one 7th. Perhaps no position has been hit as often or with more premium picks, including Xavier Rhodes (2013) and Trae Waynes (2015) in the first round and Mackensie Alexander in the second round last year. In the last 10 drafts, taking seven players in the top three rounds is a commitment like no other position.
Safety (6) – One 1st, one 2nd, one 5th, one 6th, two 7th. The only time the Vikings used a first-round pick on a safety, they landed Harrison Smith, so they’re 1-for-1 in that regard.
Kicker (1) – One 6th. Blair Walsh. Wide left. He gone.
Punter (1) – One 7th. Jeff Locke followed Walsh out the door.
The general consensus is that the Vikings are going to be looking for interior linemen on both sides of the ball, but wouldn’t shy away from a linebacker, safety or running back if one they really like is still on the board. If the Vikings are looking to buck history, they should focus on the interior lines because both have been largely ignored for an awful long time and the results have that have shown on the offensive side.