If you’ve listened to Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, you know his philosophy for building the best roster possible is to draft players and develop them in their early years in the NFL.
Spielman isn’t the only one who thinks this way, as he is joined by draft analyst Dane Brugler of The Athletic.
Brugler recently wrote that the draft and develop method is the model all teams should follow.
It remains the most proven strategy when it comes to building a championship roster in the NFL.
To that end, it is interesting to perform a team-by-team inventory of the best draft picks still on the roster. For this exercise, each team is separated by Day 1 (first round), Day 2 (second and third rounds) and Day 3 (fourth through seventh rounds).
And with teams each having seven rounds over three days to add talent to their roster, Brugler wanted to know which drafted players have been the most impactful for their teams.
Brugler looked at each NFL roster and picked out a player drafted on each day and determined the best picks still on each roster. For the Vikings, he went with first-rounder Harrison Smith, third-rounder Danielle Hunter and fifth-rounder Stefon Diggs.
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Smith, the 29th overall pick in 2012, has made four straight Pro Bowls at safety and is the Vikings franchise leader with four career pick-sixes.
Although viewed as a slight reach when he was drafted, Smith has proved to not only be worth a first-round pick, but also a steal where the Vikings drafted him. He has made four consecutive Pro Bowls and consistently performed like one of the best safeties versus the run and the pass.
Hunter wasn’t taken until the 88th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, but the defensive end has established himself as one of the best pass rushers in the NFL with 40 career sacks in four seasons.
The Vikings have consistently been ahead of the curve with Hunter. They bet on his traits as a draft pick and signed him to a long-term deal last offseason before he played his best football. Hunter ranked in the top five in the NFL with 14.5 sacks in 2018.
Diggs was also a 2015 selection, but the wide receiver lasted until the fifth round. The former Maryland standout has 302 catches for 3,493 yards and 24 touchdowns in 55 career games.
Fourth-round pass-rusher Everson Griffen deserves to be mentioned, but this spot belongs to Diggs, who set personal bests with 102 catches, 1,021 receiving yards and nine touchdowns last season.
Notables names from around the NFC North that Brugler mentioned were Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller.
Rhodes listed among NFL’s top cornerbacks
A pair of Pro Bowl players in Minnesota’s secondary recently were recognized in the upper echelon of players at their position.
CBS Sports released its top 10 rankings for cornerbacks and safeties, with Xavier Rhodes and Smith both making their respective list.
Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports had Rhodes as his No. 10 cornerback in the NFL.
After going to two Pro Bowls and earning a [contract] extension from 2016-2017, Rhodes suffered a major drop-off in 2018, posting the lowest tackle (47), pass deflection (7) and interception (1) totals of his six-year career. He remains one of the NFL's most physically imposing CBs, however.
Smith was the No. 6 safety listed by Benjamin.
Smith is rangy and likable — someone you definitely want on your team.
The Vikings were one of four teams to have a player on each list, joining the Bears, Chargers and Patriots.