by Stephen A. Turner
ROUND 2 – #41 – Dalvin Cook – RB – Florida State
Reaction – I admit that I hadn’t looked into Cook a whole lot because I expected him to come off the board much sooner than the Vikings pick at 48. For weeks, I’ve been saying that it’s hard to find a reason to get excited about this offense. This should give Vikings fans a reason to get excited. He will need to improve his ball security, as he had 13 fumbles in his college career, but Cook is a big play guy. He shows up in big games. Look no further than the Orange Bowl against a great Michigan defense. Cook put up over 200 total yards and a touchdown in the win.
His fit – Cook appears to be a great fit for the roster and in Pat Shurmr’s offense. It’s a luxury to transition from a HOF back in Adrian Peterson to someone with Cook’s talent. He should have a chance to start instantly, even though the Vikings signed Latavius Murray in free agency. Look for Murray to become the short yardage back, and Jerrick McKinnon to continue to be a specialty back who can make teams pay in the pass game.
His fit – Mike Zimmer told the media that Elflien will be coming aboard as a center. He should start there from day 1. This should create a nice competition at right guard between Joe Berger, Jeremiah Sirles and newly drafted Danny Isidora. No matter how you slice it, the offensive line looks much better on paper than it was a year ago.
His fit – He should be able to come in and compete for a starting spot right away. Mike Zimmer has made it clear that the #1 priority of the offseason is to get better in the run game. With the addition of Pat Elflien, everyone assumes that Joe Berger will be the starting right guard to open the season. I believe that Isidora and Sirles can both push Berger for the starting job. Even if he doesn’t win a starting spot, Berger is 35 and young depth along the line is vital to the success of the team past this season
ROUND 6 – #201 – Bucky Hodges – TE – Virginia Tech
Reaction – Another fist pump came with the announcement of this pick. Hodges may very well fall flat, but his athletic ability is something that can’t be coached. Hodges is 6-6, 257lbs, runs a 4.57 40 and has a 39 inch vertical. The team made a push for athletic receiving tight end Jared Cook in free agency and Hodges fits that mold. Going into the 2016 season, many thought Hodges could become a first round pick but played out of position for most of the season. He will never be a blocking tight end, but could be a matchup nightmare in 2 tight end sets with Kyle Rudolph.
His fit – I would expect Hodges to compete for playing time right away. There isn’t much depth on the roster at tight end, so hes going to get a good shot at seeing some 2 tight end sets with Rudolph. If nothing else, Hodges could be that big red zone target that the team has sorely lacked for quite some time.
ROUND 7 – #219 – Stacy Coley – WR – Miami
Reaction – Initially, it appears that Coley and earlier pick Rodney Adams have a similar skill set. Both guys are burners, and both could have impact in the return game. You can see the Vikings are trying to get more athletic offensively with these types of athletes. Coley is a gamer and I wouldn’t count him out when it comes to making this roster.
His fit – After Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, the Vikings wide receiver picture is murky at best. Jarius Wright has proven he can be somewhat effective, but did not see the field much in 2016. Laquan Treadwell only saw 1 catch last year but he will be given every opportunity to improve as a former first round pick. Coley should come in and compete for the 4-5 wide out spot right away. His ability to impact special teams would go a long way in helping his chances of making the team.
ROUND 7 – #220 – Ifeadi Odenibgo – DE – Northwestern
Reaction – Mike Zimmer gets his yearly athletic pass rusher here. He’s 6-3, ran a 4.74 40 yard dash, and tied for the 2nd longest broad jump among defensive ends at the combine. Odenibgo is very strong and used his strength to get 10 sacks, in limited work for the Wildcats a year ago. While he was limited in showing great pass rush moves, his production stands out. If Patterson can go to work on this guy, he could be a steal in the 7th round.
His fit – Zimmer gets an athlete at defensive end every year. Last year, the Vikings took Stephen Weatherly in the 7th round and ended up on the final 53 by week 17 last year. Coach Andre Patterson is the best defensive line coach in football, and loves to mold raw athletic kids into contributors. I would expect Odenibgo to see the practice squad to hone his skills under Patterson, as the main roster will probably be pretty tough to crack, along the D-line.
ROUND 7 – #232 – Elijah Lee – LB – Kansas State
Reaction – Outside Pat Elflien, this was my favorite pick in the draft. Lee will need to get tougher at the line of scrimmage but his ability to make open field tackles and get sideline to sideline, is what stands out to me. I see Lee as a much better fit to our group of current linebackers, than Gedeon. He will need to make his way onto the field by being a consistent special teamer, but this kid as a lot of upside.
His fit – initially, I thought Lee could come in and compete for Chad Greenway’s spot at weak side backer in the Vikings base package. Based on how long he stayed on the board alone, he still has some work to do to assume that role. He will have a very good opportunity to make the roster and should compete with Lamur and Robinson for a spot in the rotation. I see Lee as the best coverage linebacker on the roster, outside Eric Kendricks.
ROUND 7 – #245 – Jack Tocho – DB – NC State
Reaction – I admit to having to look up information about Tocho after we made the pick. There were a record number of defensive backs taken in this draft and coming this late in the 7th, for him to make the roster would be a longshot. He doesn’t have great speed but he has the size(6 ft) and strength(2nd among corners in bench press) that Mike Zimmer likes. He is a very smart player as well. Tocho was on the All-ACC academic team the past 2 seasons.
His fit – it will be interesting to see if the Vikings see him more as a safety than a corner in the NFL. They have a need for cornerback depth, but Tocho could be that hybrid nickel type of player that Zimmer has been looking for. He will get a good opportunity to compete in camp.