Maneuvering prior to the draft and in the first round left the Vikings with seven picks, three which happened to be first round choices. The team needed help at the receiver position and both linebacker spots. They left the draft filling most of their needs with value picks.
Sharrif Floyd/DT/Florida (Round 1, pick #23): On draft day we reported teams around the league thought Floyd was overrated and not the top five selection many pegged him to be. When he fell to the Vikings late in round one, he was just to good to pass up. Floyd is a developing lineman that plays a complete game on all three downs. He offers the versatility to line-up as a conventional tackle or as a two-gap end. Leslie Frazier could not have selected a better player as Floyd should produce as a rookie and offers a future alternative for 11-year veteran Kevin Williams.
Xavier Rhodes/CB/Florida State (Round 1, pick 25): Rhodes was another value pick and fell later in the draft than expected. He offers sensational size, speed, athleticism and to his credit, showed consistent progress on the field. Rhodes is no sure thing but the ability to line up in man coverage or slide inside to safety makes this selection all the more attractive.
Cordarrelle Patterson/WR/Tennessee (Round 1, pick #29): We never bought into the conversation that Patterson was top ten material but at the 29th pick he was another bargain pick for Minnesota. He’s a big play receiver with exceptional athleticism and explosion on the field. Patterson is also a prospect who must mature as a player and person. Free agent pick-up Greg Jennings should have a positive effect on Patterson but there’s sure to be bumps in the road.
Gerald Hodges/OLB/Penn State (Round 4, pick #120): Minnesota had needs at both middle and outside linebacker. Hodges in round four fills the void on the outside. He’s slightly undersized yet an athletic three down defender able to handle duties on the weakside. Hodges is terrific in pursuit and could develop into a day one starter.
Jeff Locke/P/UCLA (Round 5, pick #155): There was a lot of conversation after the release of punter Chris Kluwe, which some considered controversial Even if Kluwe was still on the roster, the selection of Jeff Locke immediately upgrades the punter position in Minnesota. Locke offers a big leg and was consistent at UCLA. More than a guy who just punts for distance, he was also a terrific directional kicker in college. The bottom line is Minnesota is a better team with Locke as their punter.
Jeff Baca/G/UCLA (Round 6, pick #196): Baca was graded as a 6th round pick on our board, so there’s no complaining about this selection. He’s an underrated blocker and an underrated athlete. Baca is a proficient run blocker and pass protector, and should compete for a spot on the two-deep.
Mike Mauti/LB/Penn State (Round 7, pick #213): From a football perspective Mauti is a first round pick. Smart and tough, he’s a gutsy defender with potential at several linebacker spots. Then again from a medical point of view he was barely signable considering his multiple knee issues. All in all this was worth a roll of the dice in round seven. If Mauti some how gets back to form and stays healthy then Minnesota hit big on this pick.
Travis Bond/G/North Carolina (Round 7, pick #214): Bond is primarily a size prospect and a massive blocker who takes up an enormous amount of space. He needs a lot of work on his overall game but Bond is a solid developmental prospect who should find a home on the practice squad.
Everett Dawkins/DT/Florida State (Round 7, pick #229): Dawkins in the final round was another value pick for Minnesota. He’s a quick, one-gap tackle who penetrates into the backfield or makes plays down the line of scrimmage. His scouting report entering the draft reads like that of Letroy Guion, the former Florida State defender selected by the Vikings in the fifth round of the 2008 draft.
Grade: B+. There’s a lot to like about the Vikings draft. They replaced Percy Harvin with Cordarrelle Patterson, filled needs at conerback as well as linebacker and got terrific value throughout most of the draft. Late rounders Locke, Baca and Dawkins all have terrific next level potential while its wait and see with Mauti and Bond. The only reason we didn’t give this draft a grade of A, is the bust factor associated with Rhodes and Patterson. There’s no denying Minnesota added several more pieces to finish the puzzle.