The 2017 NFL Draft will kick off two weeks from today.
Analysts across the league have released a variety of mock drafts, and ESPN Senior Writer Todd McShay was the latest to break down the first three rounds of the draft for each team. McShay added a list of ground rules before playing general manager for each of the 32 teams:
1. At each slot, I make a pick in the best interest of only the team with the pick. I won't pass on a player at No. 4 just because I like the team better at No. 5.
2. No trades unless they're already done. I try to address team needs, but like in the draft, value can supersede need.
3. Again, I'm not projecting picks. It's more a look at where I see value up and down the board.
Currently, the Vikings are slated to make their first selection from the No. 48 spot in round two, and they also have two third-round picks. McShay picked Temple guard Dion Dawkins (48th overall), Iowa defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson (79th overall) and Texas running back D'Onta Foreman (86th overall) for Minnesota.
O-line is a massive need for Minnesota, but without a first-round pick, the Vikings are unlikely to get one of the higher-rated players at the position. Dawkins has the necessary length (35-inch arms) to potentially play tackle, but he lined up at guard during Senior Bowl practices, and that might end up being his best fit in the NFL. Johnson is one of the most explosive interior pass-rushers in this class, as he displayed improved strength this past season. The Vikings cut RB Adrian Peterson and signed Latavius Murray in free agency on a low-risk contract. It couldn't hurt to add another running back to the fold. Foreman runs with great power, but durability is a concern.
Bradford, Bridgewater make list of top 1st-round QBs drafted in past 10 years
According to Jim Reineking from *USA Today, *it's been 20 years since the last time a quarterback did not get picked in the first round of the NFL Draft.
As a lead up into this year's draft – during which he opines a quarterback will again go off the board in Round 1 – Reineking assembled a list of the best passers drafted in the first round during the past 10 years (2007-2016 drafts). He based his rankings on overall career accomplishments.
Two Vikings quarterbacks made Reineking's list: Sam Bradford at No. 6 and Teddy Bridgewater at No. 10. Reineking said that Bridgewater's timetable is uncertain after suffering a significant leg injury just before the start of the 2016 season, but his accomplishments up to that point earned him a spot on the list. He wrote the following of Bridgewater, whom the Vikings drafted 32nd overall in 2014:
*Entering the lead-up to the 2014 draft, Bridgewater was considered the top quarterback prospect in that class. *
*For two years, Minnesota's trade up into the back end of the first round paid massive dividends. In 2015, Bridgewater helped deliver a division title, while at the same time breaking the Green Bay Packers stranglehold atop the NFC North and bringing promise that the Vikings might be the division's next dominant team. *
In the No. 6 spot, Reineking placed Bradford, the No. 1 overall pick in 2010. Reineking called Bradford's NFL career thus far "up and down" but said he showed promise during his first season with Minnesota.
After four rather pedestrian seasons with the Rams, the team traded Bradford to the Philadelphia Eagles. After a 2015 season in which he posted career highs in a number of passing categories, the Eagles dealt Bradford to the Vikings, who were desperate for quarterback help after Bridgewater went down with a season-ending knee injury. While Bradford played well (he led the NFL in completion percentage – 71.6 percent) despite joining the team in September, he could not lead the team back to the playoffs. That wasn't all his fault, however, as poor offensive line play contributed to the failure to return to the postseason.
Coming in at Nos. 1, 2 and 3 on Reineking's list were Andrew Luck (No. 1 overall, 2012), Cam Newton (No. 1 overall, 2011) and Matt Ryan (No. 3 overall, 2008).
Rhodes times two at Wild playoff game
Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes attended the first game in the Wild-Blues playoff series Wednesday night, but he wasn't the one in the spotlight.
Rhodes' son, Justin, was recognized – with his dad – on the Xcel Energy Center video board as the featured fan attending his very first Wild game. Justin was welcomed by the in-arena announcer and presented with a "First Game Certificate." Rhodes posted the special moment to his Instagram page: