6 Takeaways from the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine

Posted Mar 6, 2018

The 2018 NFL Scouting Combine is a wrap.

The Vikings brass spent more than a week in Indianapolis meeting with more than 300 draft-eligible prospects and watching them participate in on-field drills. 

Minnesota also got a sense of where it stands with players from the 2017 roster who are slated to be free agents on March 14 in meetings.

With the combine in the rearview mirror, here are six takeaways from’s Eric Smith and Mike Wobschall, who were on the scene in Indianapolis.

1. A QB decision is coming

Perhaps the biggest news to come from the Vikings at the combine is that no decision has been made on the team’s quarterback situation.

But that will soon change as the 2018 league year (and free agency) kicks off in just over a week. Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater — the trio of quarterbacks who took snaps for the Vikings in 2017 — are all scheduled to be free agents.

Spielman said the Vikings will have to balance numerous factors in choosing their quarterback of the future, one of which is how he will work with Vikings Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo.

“I can’t tell you the amount of hours we’ve spent on this position,” Spielman told ‘Voice of the Vikings’ Paul Allen on his 9 to Noon radio show at the combine. “The number one box was to get the offensive coordinator hired, and once we got the offensive coordinator hired, we started right in.

“(DeFilippo’s) first weekend, we spent eight hours on Saturday and another five on Sunday and started evaluating our guys, potential guys that could be out there in free agency,” Spielman said. “We’ll get started on the draft process now, but he’s also put in additions to what our offensive system is, too, so our coaches, basically in the morning are spending time on schematic improvements and what they’re going to do from a scheme standpoint, and then in the afternoons, we spend time on personnel.”

— Eric Smith

2. Analysts reach no consensus on Vikings QB question

The Vikings have a unique and intriguing situation at quarterback this offseason. It’s a situation that yields opinions from everyone. There was certainly no shortage of analysts and experts in Indianapolis during the combine, so there was plenty of opportunity to collect information and gather opinions on such pressing matters.

And yet, with so many smart football observers in one place, we failed to find any consensus among them as to what the Vikings should do at quarterback. CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco warned teams about “overpaying” for Kirk Cousins.

John Clayton suggested Cousins could put the Vikings over the top. Louis Riddick sided with bringing back Case Keenum. And Stacey Dales said all of them should be drooling to play in Minnesota.

— Mike Wobschall

3. Fresh faces in the NFC North

It took a second to register some of the faces who stepped to the podium in Indianapolis.

Two of Minnesota’s NFC North foes — the Bears and Lions —have new head coaches. Chicago hired Matt Nagy and Detroit brought in Matt Patricia to lead those respective franchises.

Green Bay made a change in its front office by naming Brian Gutekunst as the Packers new general manager and has new offensive and defensive coordinators in Joe Philbin and Mike Pettine. 

In contrast, Spielman and Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer are entering their fifth season together. Former Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur did leave to become the Giants head coach and brought in DeFilippo.

“I’m just glad the Vikings don’t have a new [head] coach,” Zimmer quipped Thursday morning from Indianapolis.

— Eric Smith

4. The buzz was about the Vikings

The buzz at the Combine is typically centered on the teams who will control the draft because of a high number of picks and/or the teams who pick early in the first round. Those teams were featured in a few headlines last week, but it was actually the Vikings who were top of mind among those in Indianapolis.

The Vikings have the aforementioned quarterback question to solve, they have salary cap space when free agency begins on March 14, and they’ve seen transition on their coaching staff with Shurmur leaving to take the New York Giants head coaching position and with DeFilippo arriving to take over as offensive coordinator.

It all made for great fodder and conversation with some of the NFL’s top analysts, so be sure to go back and check out all of our interviews with them from last week.

— Mike Wobschall

5. Frank Ragnow’s perseverance

Few players in Indianapolis have more perseverance than Frank Ragnow.

He was a two-time All-State selection at Chanhassen High School before heading to Arkansas to begin his college career.

After playing in nine games as a freshman, Ragnow cracked the Razorbacks starting lineup as a sophomore and spent the entire season at right guard. He started all 13 games as a junior in 2016, a dozen of them at center and one at right guard.

Ragnow dealt with a family tragedy during his junior season when his father, Jon, passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack at just 46 years old.

The 21-year-old Ragnow said he learned plenty of life lessons from the sudden loss of his father.

“Toughest moment of my life. I think it pushed me,” Ragnow said. “I’ve really had to lean on football and lean on my teammates and things like that.

“I think I’m just trying to make him proud,” Ragnow added. “Every day I think of, ‘How can I make my dad proud?’ ” 

— Eric Smith

6. Barkley stole the show

Don’t tell Saquon Barkley that running backs aren’t as valuable as they used to be.

After his Combine performance, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Cleveland Browns make him the top pick in the draft. The former Penn State star weighed in at a solid 233 pounds and put up 29 reps on the bench press, but he also ran a scintillating 4.40 in the 40-yard dash and jumped out of the gym with a 41-inch vertical leap.

This rare combination of size, strength and explosiveness enabled Barkley to come away from the combine as perhaps the biggest winner of the week. 

— Mike Wobschall