The 2014 NFL Draft is now in the books and the time has come to take a look at how each team did. Good value? Bad value? Major reach? Not filling a need? Trades, trades and more trades. Let’s get started with the NFC North and the Minnesota Vikings, who filled the biggest hole on the roster but did virtually nothing to boost the 31st ranked secondary from 2013.
Anthony Barr was a little bit of a reach, but we have to remember, about three months ago he was viewed as a potential top-5 guy and there’s a lot to like from a pass rushing perspective. But my question is this: where is he going to play? In UCLA’s 43 he played OLB, but he projects better to 43 DE in the pros. That’s fine, but what about DEs Everson Griffen (5-year, $42 million dollar contract) and Brian Robison (5-year, $32 million dollar contract)?
Will Barr play OLB? Maybe, but many don’t think he has the lateral quickness or coverage ability to play OLB in any defense outside of a 34. Chad Greenway is entrenched on one side and I think Gerald Hodges (4th rounder in ’13) will be an outstanding fit in HC Mike Zimmers’ scheme, so I don’t think his future is there.
So what is he to the franchise moving forward? A rotational pass rusher up front? Hey I’m the biggest believer in the world of getting as many athletes and pass rushers as you can, but to reach for one in the top-10? When there’s a glaring weakness at CB and the best in the draft (Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State) is sitting there waiting for you to call? Vikings got a good football player here but this is still somewhat of a head scratcher.
Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) at the tail end of the first round was a great pick. Wonderful value, getting arguably the best QB (and a one time lock for first pick in the draft) for essentially a fourth rounder is the pinnacle of hitting both need and value.
Plus, by snagging him in the first instead of waiting for the second round, they’ll have the fifth year team option available to them in the contract, meaning if he blows up, they’ll have an extra year of him on the cheap before paying him franchise dollars (like the Seattle Seahawks with Russell Wilson right now). Superb pick here.
The Vikings two 3rd rounders were solid picks in my estimation, both Scott Crichton (DE, Oregon State) and Jerick McKinnon (RB, Georgia Southern). Crichton was a great value in the 3rd as most thought he would be gone by the mid 2nd, and many view McKinnon as a major reach, but I really like his skill set, both as a RB and a S. He’s a tremendous athlete and an even better dude, he’ll find a role somewhere on this team, whether it’s on offense or defense.
My question remains though, another pass rusher (love it) but what about the secondary? Terrance Brooks (S, FSU), Bashaud Breeland (CB, Clemson), Keith McGill (CB, Utah) and Pierre Desir (CB, Lindenwood) all were still available and all would’ve been tremendous additions.
OG David Yankey (Stanford) in the 5th was a great pick. Awesome value (one time thought to be first rounder) and could find a role as a starter on the left side. Plus has experience playing outside at OT if he doesn’t work out at OG. Love this pick.
CB Antone Exum (Virginia Tech) was the one DB pick I really liked in the 6th round. If he returns to where he was in 2012 before the ACL and meniscus injuries, he could be a steal. Shamar Stephen (DT, UCONN) was also a solid pick in the 7th. Kendall James (CB, Maine), Brandon Watts (OLB, Georgia Tech) and Jabari Price (CB, UNC) will be major long shots to make the team.
All in all, I think the Vikes improved their depth and improved their pass rush (which in a way helps the secondary), but they added no real playmakers the back four. I would’ve liked seeing them add a CB with some good length and ball skills who could pair next to Xavier Rhodes, but that just didn’t happen.