Going into the 2016 NFL draft, the Minnesota Vikings didn’t have too many holes to fill.
By Jordan Wright
The Vikings were able to draft the best players available instead of focusing on a particular position of need. Because of that, however, some Vikings fans are not happy with how the draft turned out, thinking the Vikings didn’t do enough to bring the team from a first round playoff exit to a championship contender.
In the first round of the NFL draft, the Vikings selected Laquon Treadwell, wide receiver from Ole Miss. Treadwell was the number one receiver coming out of high school, and was widely projected to be an elite WR talent in the NFL. Unfortunately for Treadwell, he suffered a gruesome leg injury in college and was subsequently picked apart by analysts for not being very athletic.
“We all know he ran a 4.65 40 at his pro day. So, either you believe in him and his game, or you don’t. He’s a natural hands catcher and will win 50-50 balls. He’s also one of the best blocking wide receivers in this draft. He’s physical, tough and has great hands. I think the Vikings got a winner.” — Mike Mayock, NFL Network
Standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing over 220 pounds, Treadwell is the perfect receiver for the Minnesota Vikings. He is best when asked to go up and get the ball, showing a tenacity that is lacking from the current Minnesota receivers. Treadwell may not be able to separate from cornerbacks with speed, but he will always have a wider catch radius than any corner who is covering him, making him theoretically “always” open.
With their pick in the second round, the Vikings selected Mackensie Alexander, cornerback from Clemson. Mack (as he likes to be called, according to Rick Spielman) is a little on the shorter side at 5’10”, but he was the fourth best prospect in the entire country coming out of high school and backed that up by playing extremely well at Clemson. A first round caliber player according to most analysts, the Vikings got a tremendous steal in the second round.
“A lot of people thought he was a first-rounder around bowl season. He is quick and fast, but there’s a lack of ball production. He was a two-year starter, but with zero interceptions. He’ll compete for a nickel cornerback spot.” — Mike Mayock, NFL Network
As Mayock alluded to, Mack did not have any interceptions in college. However, Rick Spielman countered that by saying “he didn’t get a lot of balls completed against him either.” It’s obvious the Vikings got a great player and a tremendous competitor in Alexander. With his excellent man coverage ability, he should fit right in with the Minnesota Vikings and Coach Zimmer. To me, this pick is more about the future than the present. In 2017, Terence Newman will (probably) be retired and Captain Munnerlyn’s contract will be up, leaving the Vikings with a trio of Rhodes, Waynes and Alexander. Not too shabby.
The Vikings traded their third round pick to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a sixth round pick in the 2016 NFL draft, a third round pick in the 2017 draft, and a conditional fourth round pick (Miami’s earliest pick in the round) in 2017. This is just another example of why the Vikings have one of the best General Managers in the league.
In the fourth round, the Vikings selected Willie Beavers, an offensive tackle from Western Michigan. Beavers is a developmental prospect, but has plenty of ability that Tony Sparano will be able to mold. Rick Spielman, in a press conference, spoke about what Sparano wanted in his offensive linemen. One thing that stuck out to me was the phrase “ability to dent people when you hit them”. The Vikings are obviously looking for linemen who have a strong initial burst and punch off the line, and Beavers certainly has plenty of that.
”This is the second year in a row the Vikings have taken a developmental offensive tackle on early Day 3 (Clemmings, ’15). Beavers started 40 straight games at left tackle and has all the raw tools but he comes with a handful of technical deficiencies. He’s at least a year away from competing for a starting bookend spot on their offensive line.” –Mark Dulgerian, NFL Network
Just like the Alexander pick, this one is more about the future than the present. This is the last year of Kalil’s contract, and if he doesn’t step up this year and prove he’s a solid left tackle, the Vikings will be looking for a replacement in 2017. TJ Clemmings figures to be the backup LT this season, but there might be a competition between him and Beavers next season.
With their fifth round selection, the Vikings drafted Kentrell Brothers, linebacker from Missouri. Standing at only 6’ tall, Brothers is slightly undersized for what Zimmer prefers in his linebackers, but he has excellent instincts and is always around the ball. Brothers led the FBS in tackles in 2015.
“Brothers was a production machine at Missouri thanks to his high football IQ & reactionary quickness. He’s a solid addition to one of the NFL’s best linebacker crews and has exciting long term upside.” –Mark Dulgerian, NFL Network
Brothers figures to be a special teams ace who will compete for a starting spot next season once Chad Greenway retires.
Check out next week’s article as I break down the remaining draft picks. What are your thoughts on the Vikings draft? Did you think they knocked it out of the park, or did they completely flop and set the team back for years? Reach out to me on Facebook (facebook. com/skoljwright) Twitter (@skoljwright) or by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me know what you think! Skol!