EAGAN, Minn. –And just like that, another NFL Draft is in the rearview mirror.
Over the past three days, Vikings General Rick Spielman and his staff worked on adding pieces to Minnesota's roster. The Vikings made eight draft picks, including four defensive players, three offensive players and a specialist.
From first-rounder Mike Hughes to seventh-round selection Devante Downs, the Vikings final pick of the weekend, here are top quotes from each of the draft picks – and a word from Spielman on how each player can help the team.
Mike Hughes, CB (No. 30)
In his words:"Those are some great guys [on the Vikings secondary], obviously number-one defense. I'm just looking to build as a player and as a man off the field. Wherever I can fit in the defense, I'll do whatever the coach needs me to do to put us in position to be successful. I'm just blessed to be in this position now."* *
The GM's take:"The thing that [Vikings Head Coach Mike] Zimmer preaches is the quickness out of his transition, which means out of his backpedal. How quickly can he get from point A to point B? And as we sat there and watched the tape together, we felt he was one of the top corners, as far as the quickness that we're looking for and to fit in what the requirements are going to be for him from a physical skill standpoint to play in this defense."
Brian O'Neill, T (No. 62)
In his words:"I think I am able to handle speed off the edge very well. I think that is something that is one of my strong suits, being able to protect the edge. Obviously with the new quarterback in town, Kirk Cousins, that is a big deal. Protecting him is my most important job now. It is a job I take very seriously. Being able to keep guys off the quarterback is something I do well and something I feel very confident in my abilities about."
The GM's take:"He has tremendous athletic ability that you can't teach. You watch his tape, watch him get to the second level, watch him pull, all the physical and athletic traits that we look for in the scheme that we run. I know if I can get coaches this type of athlete, they can develop these guys. We think this kid has tremendous upside and can't wait until we can get him in here this weekend."
Jalyn Holmes, DL (No. 102)
In his words:"I think I could be that for the Vikings. I can be whatever the Vikings need me to be, honestly. I played a lot of positions at Ohio State. Played defensive end a majority of the time, the last two years I was kicked inside on third down. Right now, I'm whatever they want me to be. I feel like I could be a great defensive tackle with a great coach [Andre Patterson] at the Minnesota Vikings to help me do that."
The GM's take:"Yeah, he was almost 6-5, and he was 279 pounds. He ran a 4.77 on our watches in Indianapolis, and he has over 34-inch arm length. … We're looking at him as an inside pass rusher. At Ohio State he's played defensive end, they slid him inside some as a nickel pass rusher on third downs, and we think that's where his best fit is for us."
Tyler Conklin, TE (No. 157)
In his words:"We're a mismatch. The fact that we can be in the passing game and create mismatches with linebackers and safeties and also we can get the opportunity to run the ball at times, another can head out there to block, whether it's first level or second level. The way the game is going with it being so pass heavy, I think it's huge, especially to have multiple tight ends that are versatile and can run routes and create mismatches. That's nice how you can be dangerous as an offense."* *
The GM's take:"[Offensive Coordinator John] DeFilippo always wanted a tight end that could be a potential mismatch guy. When you watched his tape, I know he was injured and missed a lot of the beginning of the season. Then watched his tape, they split him out. They put him as an H, they put him as an F. You can do a lot of things with him. He has tremendous hand-eye coordination. You've seen him make the great catch in the Senior Bowl. When he wheeled around, I think it was on a South Carolina linebacker, who is also an excellent player. You see all those traits you can develop into a potential mismatch type guy."
Daniel Carlson, K (No. 167)
In his words:"[Meeting with Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer] was probably my favorite workout, honestly. He has so much knowledge about the kicking game – about what coverage unit, and he's obviously done an unbelievable job over the years with that. To have that will help my game and what we can do to help the team win, and that is obviously the goal. We were able to watch game film and practice film together from my years at Auburn. […] I think he liked me, and I really definitely liked him, as a coach and as a person. Excited to get to work and continue to learn from him."
The GM's take:"On kickoffs, I know he has a very strong leg. On field goals, I know Coach Priefer went down and worked him out and was very impressed. I know Coach Priefer did some things to tweak technique here and there but felt that he was another kid that we wanted to get in to compete and see where this goes."
Colby Gossett, G (No. 213)
In his words:"I really enjoy being very physical and very tough, and I mean I play with a lot of emotion, but I'm also going to be very technical while I do that."
The GM's take:"He played [right] guard at Appalachian State. He got an opportunity to go down there [to the Senior Bowl] and compete at a higher level against a couple of the top defensive linemen in this draft, and he held his own."
Ade Aruna, Edge rusher (No. 218)
In this words:"[Vikings Legend Keith Millard] is one of the best to [rush the passer]. I got a chance to work with him in January when I got to California to my training facility, California Strength. Coach Keith was everything I wanted in a coach. When it comes to the defensive line and pass rushing, he taught me almost everything I never knew before. Everything I've done in college, Coach Keith and I discussed so many things. It was a great opportunity to get with somebody like him to learn what it is to know what it is to play defensive line and pass rush specialties."
The GM's take:"He had a tremendous [2016 season] when they split him out a little wider and let him just go up and rush the passer. This year, they reduced him down inside so he wasn't as effective. When you have a guy with that length, and I think he ran 4.58 for us on our watches, and that arm length, we felt that guy has an opportunity to be a potential edge rusher for us, especially when you go back and watch his '16 tape on him."
Devante Downs, LB (No. 225)
In his words:"It was a long wait. I was actually at the grocery store when I got the call from [Vikings linebackers coach Adam Zimmer]. And they just let me know that they were going to pick me. I'm just blessed."
The GM's take:"He's a multi-position player. Extremely smart, very instinctive, excellent size. He tore his ACL, but our doctors, after examining him and going through the physical, feel that he'll be hopefully ready to go by training camp."