Vikings Score A First-Round Hat Trick
By Travis West
Not since the St. Louis Rams in 2001 has an NFL draft has a team accumulated three first-round picks.The Vikings quickly made a move after their 23rd and 25th selection and traded picks in the second, third, fourth and seventh for New England's 29th overall pick. Minnesota used all three picks to address holes at wide receiver, defensive tackle and cornerback.
Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd was expected to be not just the first defensive tackle selected, but one of the first players selected overall. Even though Floyd's numbers do not show it, his athleticism allows him to play in any spot on the line. In an interview after he was drafted, Floyd expressed some frustration with falling so far in the draft. He praised Minnesota for selecting him and has something to prove. Floyd was a steal at No. 23. With Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, and Brian Robison becoming free agents next season, it is unlikely that the Vikings keep them all, making Floyd an easy, yet solid pick.
The NFC North is filled with big, strong, physical wide receivers that the Vikings secondary face twice each year. Head coach Leslie Frazier and general manager Rick Spielman decided to make the move for Florida State CB Xavier Rhodes. Rhodes is great in press coverage and has improved his ability to help in the run game. He is an instant upgrade for the Vikings who struggled with keeping healthy defensive backs.
With deadly quarterback combinations like Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford, Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall and Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson to contend with, the Vikings look to find their own elite receiver in Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson only has one year under his belt at Tennessee, but he can play. He made plays lined up as a halfback in college and also returned kicks. Outside of West Virginia's Tavon Austin, Patterson's playmaking ability is far above the rest of the receiving class. Viking fans can now be excited about the Ponder-to-Patterson combination.
In the last two drafts Minnesota has had five picks. The Vikings struck gold in 2012 with two first round picks when they chose pro bowl left tackle Matt Kalil and safety Harrison Smith. Minnesota hopes to duplicate the success of last year's draft with the three top-notch players they acquired Thursday.