As we sit here on Monday morning, Minnesota Vikings fans are taking our annual victory lap about how good our draft class turned out. It’s the same thing we did when the Vikings traded up at the end of the first round in 2014 to take Teddy Bridgewater. Or two years earlier when Rick Spielman duped the Cleveland Browns into trading extra draft capital for Trent Richardson…yeah Trent Richardson! Or when Randy Moss fell to the 21st overall pick in 1998.
Of course, we also know how these things usually turn out. The football gods would treat Teddy’s knee like a Mortal Kombat fatality. The Vikings took Matt Kalil right after the Browns took Richardson and Randy Moss…well, shit…we nailed that one.
It’s a reminder that even though we may love the draft that Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer put together over the weekend, all it takes is for the football gods to snap their fingers and all our hopes and dreams disappear. But for now, we’re going to bask in the glory of belief that the Vikings fixed all of their flaws and are now ready to lose in the NFC Championship game next January (You know how these things work).
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how this class turned out…
Rd. 1 (18th overall): Garrett Bradbury, C, NC State
Entering the draft, everybody that had seen a Vikings game last year knew that if they didn’t fix the offensive line, the 2018 gong show was going to continue. As the pick got closer and not a single cornerback had been taken, our blood pressure started to go through the roof thinking Mike Zimmer would override this situation and draft Rock Ya-Sin or Greedy Williams.
Instead, the Vikings actually got it right. Bradbury is the one offensive lineman that seemed like a rock solid pick in this class and by moving Pat Elflein to guard, they should be able to actually provide some resistance up the middle.
Rd. 2 (50th overall): TE Irv Smith Jr., Alabama
With the main focus of the draft being to get Kirk Cousins some weapons, the Vikings decided to make an upgrade at the tight end position by drafting Smith. He’s fast. He can make plays after the catch. He’s a decent blocker and he can be a giant chess piece for the Vikings. It’s pretty cool.
Kyle Rudolph’s agent wasn’t amused, tweeting out a stat that compared him to Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce which may be true. But it also doesn’t account for Rudolph getting his yards when the defense falls asleep as opposed to beating double or triple coverage that those two face every Sunday. In any event, Rudolph seems willing to welcome Smith and help him learn the ropes which is also pretty cool.
Rd. 3 (102nd overall): RB Alexander Mattison, Boise State
This is where the draft got weird. I don’t know if Spielman just kept getting sniped or if he only scouted the first two rounds because he would not stop trading down to get more picks in the later rounds, but I digress.
Here, the Vikings get a bigger back and there’s a video out there where he jumps over a defensive lineman. Mattison could be a pretty solid power guy to compliment the electric Dalvin Cook and if Cook goes down (a formality the past two years), we’ll see what he can do.
Rd. 4 (114th overall): G Dru Samia, Oklahoma
After skipping the offensive line for two straight rounds, it was time to get back to it. Here, the Vikings did another smart thing by tapping into the team that won the Joe Moore Award for the most outstanding offensive line in college football. I had no idea this award even existed and suddenly, boom! We got him.
Samia is like Bradbury in that he’s smart, can move athletically and knock a linebacker on his ass when needed. He’s not the biggest guard in the fight, but once the Vikings training staff puts him on the Brian O’Neill diet and gets him big enough to compete in a UFC backyard bro fight, he’ll be a nice piece on a revamped offensive line.
Rd. 5 (162nd overall): LB Cameron Smith, USC
You guys ever heard of a Texas Redshirt? It’s when a high school coaching staff bribes a primary school teacher to flunk a kid so they can get him on the team when he’s bigger and stronger. (PS. This is actually a thing. Go Google “Texas Redshirt High School” and get back to me.) Anyway, Smith did the opposite. He was so good and so tough, he played against eighth graders when he was in FOURTH GRADE!!!
This kid had to be drinking the Texas equivalent of Grain Belt Premium in the womb to go up against kids twice his size, and he headed out to USC because why wouldn’t you in this situation? Anyway, he was pretty solid and figures to be a Ben Gedeon clone, meaning he doesn’t suck at anything, but he’s not great at anything either.
Rd. 6 (190th overall): DT Armon Watts, Arkansas
This guy’s college career was like the storyline to "8 Mile." Well, I don’t know if he lived in a trailer park or had a friend who shot himself in the leg, but his senior season was just like Eminem’s final rap in that movie: straight fire.
After playing in just seven games in his first three seasons, he gained 7.5 sacks in his senior year. He’s got some great intangibles and defensive line coach Andre Patterson, who could probably turn a homeless dude on the street into an All-Pro, is going to love moulding this guy into someone that can piledrive Aaron Rodgers.
Rd. 6 (191st overall): S Marcus Epps, Wyoming
Not much to say here. Guy has the stats, but he’s a little smaller than your average corner. Mike Zimmer will probably show him videos of Deion Sanders with his eyes pried open and turn him into a killing machine though and I’m so here for that.
Rd. 6 (193rd overall) OT Oli Udoh, Elon
How appropriate is it for a dude named Oli to be on the Vikings. I’m waiting for Spielman to draft another tackle named Sven next year just to have a sweet bookend combo. Anyway, this guy is gigantic at 6’5” and 322 pounds, but he doesn’t play with the same aggression which is a shame. Give him a year or two and he might become a mauler that won’t touch whomever is under center for the Vikings in 2020.
Rd. 7 (217th overall): CB Kris Boyd, Texas
You knew Zimmer wasn’t leaving without a corner. If Zim had all six Infinity Stones and snapped his fingers, the world would be nothing but corners. Anyway, he’s big, plays physical and is a project.
Rd. 7 (239th overall): WR Dillon Mitchell, Oregon
Behind Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, the Vikings had nothing at the wide receiver position. Throughout the draft, they passed on guys that had been listed on dynasty league websites like D.K. Metcalf and Kelvin Harmon to settle on this guy. As a third receiver, he has the wheels to create a big play with yards after catch. Laquon Treadwell does not know about this phenomenon as it involves catching the ball first.
Rd. 7 (247th overall): WR Olabisi Johnson, Colorado State
Johnson is a great route runner with good hands that can find holes in a zone to help him make the smart play when needed. He’s basically the opposite of Laquon Treadwell.
Rd. 7 (250th overall) LS Austin Cutting, Air Force
Well, Cutting can’t play for two years due to a military service agreement. That still beats trading up for a kicker.