The Vikings are back in the 23rd overall spot of the NFL Draft for the first time since 2013, when they gladly tabbed Sharrif Floyd, who had been projected to be selected earlier in the first round of the draft.
General Manager Rick Spielman followed by taking Xavier Rhodes (25th overall with a pick acquired from Seattle for Percy Harvin) and trading back into the first round to tab Cordarrelle Patterson in the 29th spot that initially belonged to New England.
A widespread consensus of outside experts believes the Vikings will go for a receiver Thursday, but Spielman said Tuesday in an annual pre-draft press conference that the team is not "honed in" on a receiver in the first round.
Members of the Twin Cities media have learned to stay on their toes this time of year, which brings us to Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune making cases for a receiver … or a tackle … or a safety … or a defensive lineman … or a linebacker.
*Perhaps the Vikings will pass on a pass-catcher in the first round and go in a less predictable direction. After all, one can make a case for them addressing one of several positions in the first round. *
Vensel wrote the Vikings could look to add size at receiver:
Three first-round prospects fit that profile. The Vikings, who enter the draft with eight selections, likely will have to trade up if they want Mississippi's Laquon Treadwell. TCU's Josh Doctson could be gone before their pick, too. Ohio State's Michael Thomas doesn't seem as desirable as the other two but would be a better fit than Baylor's Corey Coleman or Notre Dame's Will Fuller.
As for the other positions, Vensel believes the team could add to what it has done in free agency along the offensive line and safety spots, or keep an eye down the road on the defensive line or at linebacker, positions that have what are considered to be less-pressing needs.
McShay releases final Top 300
ESPN Draft analyst Todd McShay released his final "Top 300" ranking of prospects. The list included 42 receivers. Here are his top 10 at the position:
- Laquon Treadwell, Mississippi (91)
- Josh Doctson, TCU (91)
- Corey Coleman, Baylor (90)
- Will Fuller, Notre Dame (90)
- Michael Thomas, Ohio State (86)
- Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh (84)
- Chris Moore, Cincinnati (82)
- Braxton Miller, Ohio State (81)
- Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma (79)
- Leonte Carroo, Rutgers (78)
Later rounds important, too
While much attention is paid to the first round, it is only one of a handful of picks to help a team add to its strengths, address needs or begin a complete re-build.
The Vikings have grown stronger by hitting on later-round picks in recent drafts, developing young players under Head Coach Mike Zimmer and re-signing them to their second contracts.
Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press noted that successes on days two and three of drafts helped the Vikings win the NFC North with an 11-5 record.
*Of their 22 primary starters and two specialists last season, eight were selected in the fourth round or later and three were never drafted. *
"The Vikings have allowed the draft to fall to them and haven't been shy about taking chances on players, and it has paid off in several cases," NFL draft analyst Dane Brugler told Tomasson. "The draft is all about value, and Minnesota has maximized several of their later-round picks. As a talent evaluator, that's why you put all the work in year-round to hit on those Day 3 picks while other franchises don't."
*Rick Spielman has been involved in Vikings drafts since 2007, the first five as vice president of player personnel and the past four as general manager. During that time, the team picked up defensive end Brian Robison in the fourth round in 2007, center John Sullivan in the sixth in 2008, defensive end Everson Griffen in the fourth in 2010, guard Brandon Fusco in the sixth in 2011, tackle T.J. Clemmings in the fourth in 2015 and receiver Stefon Diggs in the fifth in 2015. *
View every Vikings first round draft pick through the years.
Draft history and future
Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune took a look back*on the fanfare, or lack thereof, when the fledgling Vikings made their first selection, and colleague Jason Gonzalez reported on the potential of bringing* the mega-event to the Twin Cities.