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Lunchbreak: Vikings Draft Trends Over Past Decade

It remains to be see what the Vikings will do in this week's draft, as Minnesota currently has eight picks at its disposal.

Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune took a look at some recent trends the Vikings have made over the past decade, and came away with some interesting facts.

Vensel found that Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman likes balance, as his team has almost been split exactly down the middle in terms of offense and defense.

The Vikings have drafted 83 players since 2007, an average of 8.3 per year. Of those picks, 41 were defenders, 40 were offensive players and two were kicking specialists. Spielman and the Vikings selected eight players last year, their lowest total since 2010. They drafted 10 players apiece in the 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015 drafts and nine in 2013.

Vensel also found that the Vikings have gravitated toward a handful of notable college football conferences.

Since 2007, Spielman and the Vikings have used more than half of their draft picks on players from three conferences — the ACC, the SEC and the Pac-12. They have picked 16 players from both the ACC (two last year) and SEC (three last year) and 13 from the Pac-12 (none last year, the first time they have not picked a player from that conference since 2009, when it was still the Pac-10). They have only picked eight players from the Big Ten and six from the Big 12 over the past decade.

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View images of Michigan State DT Malik McDowell.

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ESPN's Goessling makes Vikings draft projection

There are only a few days left until the 2017 NFL Draft, which means plenty of pundits are making their final projections regarding teams they cover.

ESPN writer Ben Goessling covers the Vikings and threw out his projection for what he thinks Minnesota will do with its first pick, the No. 48 overall selection.

Goessling said the Vikings won't spend their first pick on an offensive lineman.

He wrote:

*They addressed the tackle position -- their biggest positional need and also one of the thinnest spots in the draft -- in free agency. And they might find enough other needs to fill with the 48th overall pick that they will wait on adding a lineman with one of their four other picks in the second through fourth rounds. If a defensive tackle such Michigan State's Malik McDowell is still available when the Vikings make their first selection in the second round, they could go that way before coming back to add depth to the offensive line later. *

McDowell totaled 34 tackles (20 solo) with 7.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in 2016. He was a Second-Team All-American honoree by SI.com and CBS Sports, and earned First-Team All-Big Ten honors from *The Associated Press *and Phil Steele.

He played in nine games but missed the final three games due to injury.

Former Vikings tackle Jake Long retires

Offensive tackle Jake Long, who spent part of the 2016 season with the Vikings, announced his retirement Monday on Twitter.

Long joined Minnesota in October and played in four games, starting three of them, before he suffered a season-ending Achilles injury.

Long, the No. 1 overall pick by Miami in the 2008 NFL Draft, played in 104 career games, including 99 starts. Long spent his first five seasons with the Dolphins, starting all 74 games he played for Miami at left tackle.

The 31-year-old opened his career with four straight selections to the Pro Bowl and an All-Pro season in 2010.

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