As the cobwebs clear from an intense weekend of information overload, a small step backward to look at the forest from the trees shows the big step forward that the Vikings took.
Head coach Mike Tice was thrilled that draft experts like Mel Kiper Jr. and others had the Vikings as having one of the best drafts in the league this year, if not the best. While Kiper and others may look at it from the talent added, there is no question that the best athletes available also lined up very nicely with the Vikings' needs — at least on the first day.
"We had some needs and we weren't drafting for needs," Tice said after the marathon was over Sunday night. "We stayed true to the board, I believe, with every pick. We always drafted the highest ranked player on the board, except for the people we passed either because of character issues, medical issues, or a guy didn't fit in our scheme at all, so besides those type guys that we skipped over we were able to stay true to our board, and I believe it worked out very well for us."
Despite one team source saying the Vikings didn't really have a glaring need at defensive end, most observers disagreed. However, after drafting Kenechi Udeze and Darrion Scott, that need appears to have vanished.
Udeze will be the instant starter at right defensive end and Scott will at least back up Kenny Mixon on the left side, and Scott would be the likley starter if Mixon isn't available if he is suspended by the league for his alcohol-related offenses, which appears unlikely at this point.
The draft was also deep with defensive tackles, and that same source believed the team would come away with an interior guy. Actually, they did that too with Scott. Besides backing up Mixon, Scott will compete for the rotational role filled by Billy Lyon and Chuck Wiley inside.
In between Udeze and Scott, the Vikings got another need filled with the drafting of Dontarrious Thomas in the second round. Tice and others had been saying all offseason that the team needed a starting weakside linebacker. Thomas is expected to be that player, starting alongside E.J. Henderson in the middle and Chris Claiborne on the outside.
With the expected retirement of Greg Biekert, the Vikings filled another need with the drafting of ultra-productive middle linebacker Rod Davis, who is expected to by Henderson's primary reserve.
It all came together beautifully for the Vikings this past weekend, and the process of blending together as a full team starts in nine days when the Vikings begin their full-team minicamp weekend, May 7-9. It will be the first glance at all the rookies in a purple jersey practicing at the pro level, and VU will be there with analysis.
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