By Anthony Brousseau
Wheelin’ and dealin’ Rick Spielman was nowhere to be found in the first round of the NFL Draft this year.
Having traded their first rounder to the Eagles for Sam Bradford, the Minnesota Vikings won’t pick until No. 48 in the second round. There was some speculation that Spielman, known for a love of draft day trades and first round picks, would move up, but day one of the draft came and went without a peep from the Vikings.
Day two begins at 6 p.m. Friday. The Green Bay Packers have the first pick in round two, and the Vikings are slated to make a selection 15 picks later. So, who’s left for the Vikings to add? According to CBS Sports, here are some of the top prospects left for the Vikings to target.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
CBS Sports’ top remaining prospect, Cook was a monster for the Seminoles. He also fills a need – while the Vikings signed Latavius Murray to replace Adrian Peterson (now a Saint), there’s no question Cook is a more exciting player than the former Raider. Off-field issues — including an assault accusation of which he was found not guilty — and injury concerns pushed Cook down the board. The Vikings probably won’t spend a high pick on a running back, but Cook is probably the best of the bunch if they do.
Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
Could the Vikings replace one Sooner with another? Joe Mixon is the draft’s most polarizing prospect. He was suspended for a year in 2014 after punching a woman during an altercation in an Oklahoma deli, an incident which was caught on tape and released last year. From a talent standpoint, Mixon is a first round pick – last year, he had 1,274 yards and 16 touchdowns. However, it would be a shock to see the character-conscious Vikings take someone with a history of violence against women. Mixon and the Vikings were linked before the draft, but it’s doubtful they’ll take him in round two, if at all.
Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky
In recent drafts, offensive lineman have been at a premium in the first round. As a strong passing game becomes increasingly vital in the NFL, building a fortress for your QB becomes priority No. 1. Not this year, however, with the first o-lineman coming off the board at No. 20 (tackle Garrett Bolles to the Denver Broncos). Forrest Lamp is CBS’ highest-rated remaining offensive lineman. It’d be a surprise if he fell all the way to 48, but if he does, the Vikings should not hesitate to add him to their offensive front.
Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
With Sharrif Floyd’s career in jeopardy due to nerve damage in his knee, the Vikings would be wise to seek out his replacement sooner rather than later. CBS ranks Malik McDowell as their best defensive tackle left, and the third best remaining player overall. The Vikings love to spend their high picks on defense, but they’ve had luck finding defensive lineman in later rounds (see: Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter), so McDowell might be a reach for them at 48.
DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
This would be a real out-of-left-field pick (sorry for mixing sports metaphors), but it would also tell us a lot about how the Vikings view their quarterback situation. We’re still in the dark regarding Teddy Bridgewater – the Vikings have offered no update on his knee injury. Kizer was expected to go in the first round for much of the draft process, and there’s a chance he won’t make it to the 48th pick. But if he does, would the Vikings be tempted to take him? Bridgewater may never play again, and even if he does, he may not be the same player the Vikings thought he would be before his injury. Sam Bradford had the best year of his career in 2016, but is the team willing to spend big bucks on an aging quarterback who has never lived up to his potential? If Kizer falls to the Vikings and they pull the trigger, it probably means Bridgewater is done, at least with the Vikings. On the other hand, it’s a smart move to draft and develop quarterbacks as often as possible – even if Bridgewater does come back or the Vikings do pay Bradford, if Kizer lives up to the draft hype, he becomes a great backup or a valuable trade asset (ask the New England Patriots about this).
The Vikings have had mixed results in the past few drafts. They’ve found late gems (Hunter, Stefon Diggs) and grabbed franchise cornerstones in the first round (Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes), but they’ve also whiffed on both early (Laquon Treadwell, Cordarrelle Patterson) and late (T.J. Clemmings) picks.
With no first round pick, the Vikings need to add an impact player in the second round. There’s plenty of talent left, let’s hope Spielman and the gang make the right pick.