In the wake the 2017 NFL Draft, several analysts have posted draft grades for each of the 32 teams, but NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah looked way ahead to next year's Rookie of the Year honors.
Jeremiah spoke with five NFL personnel executives and got "their opinion on which draftee was most likely to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award" for the 2017 season.
Two out of the five anonymous executives questioned predicted the award would go to Dalvin Cook, whom the Vikings snagged at 41st overall last week after trading up seven spots.
One executive said, "Dalvin Cook would be my guess. He landed in a good spot."
The other executive who also answered Cook explained:
"The Vikings were a playoff team two years ago, and then the wheels came off last year […]. They'll play D and run the ball with Cook. Plus, he'll be motivated after the fall into Round 2."
Two others pegged another running back, Leonard Fournette, for the honors. The Jaguars drafted Fournette fourth overall out of LSU.
The third player who received a vote was O.J. Howard, taken off the board at No. 19 by the Buccaneers.
These answers make a lot of sense. Fournette and Cook figure to get a lot of touches for their respective teams, while Howard is ready-made to play with a talented young passer like Jameis Winston. A couple other rookies I'd keep an eye on: Packers running back Jamaal Williams and Titans wide receiver Corey Davis.
Bleacher Report ranks Vikings defense 6th in NFL
The Vikings used their first two picks in this year's NFL Draft for offense – Cook and center Pat Elflein – but also added depth to their defense in the later rounds.
Bleacher Report columnist Marcus Mosher recently posted an article that ranked all 32 teams according to their defenses. Mosher opined Minnesota's defense at sixth-best in the NFL. He wrote:
*In the first month of the season, the Vikings' defense looked like the best unit we've seen in a long time. The Vikings allowed just 63 points in their first five games of the season. Not coincidentally, the team started the season off 5-0. *
*But by the end of the season, the defense was just too exhausted from carrying a poor offense that they wore down and they were not as effective. They did finish third in total yards allowed and sixth in points allowed, so it was still one of the better defenses in the NFL. *
* The Vikings' defense will look very similar in 2017 as they didn't add much to the roster, but if Sam Bradford and Dalvin Cook can keep drives going on offense, this defense shouldn't wear out as quickly as they did in 2016. *
For the top five ranked above the Vikings, Mosher listed (from 1-5) the Seahawks, Texans, Broncos, Patriots and Giants.