With no pick in the first round on Thursday, Minnesota fans didn’t get too excited about the draft’s first day, although lots of comment was directed at Chicago (swapping a bunch of picks to move up to second overall and selecting their quarterback of the future in Mitch Trubisky from North Carolina). On Friday, the Vikings started the evening with three picks in hand (the 16th in the second round, and the 16th and 22nd in the third).
I admit I was surprised at the Vikings’ first pick: running back Dalvin Cook, Florida State (obtained by trading with Cincinnati, swapping 2nd round picks and giving up one of their two fourth round picks).
From the fan sites, I had the distinct impression that Cook’s character and medical issues would make him an undraftable prospect for Minnesota. Clearly the team successfully disguised their interest in Cook (the two Oklahoma running backs were each strongly rumoured to be the Vikings’ target at that position). The Vikings provide this overview of Cook:
Florida State has had a slew of talented running backs over the past 30 years, but Cook was the first to break the 1,000-yard barrier in his first season with the team. The next two seasons have only gotten better, ranking in the top 10 by breaking 1,600 yards (1,691 in 2015 ranked sixth in the FBS, 1,765 in 2016 ranked fifth), scoring 19 times as a rusher, and earning first-team All-ACC accolades each year. The speedy and shifty back was also named 2016 first-team All-American by the Associated Press and Walter Camp Foundation, among others. NFL teams will be interested in his medical checks, though, because of the hamstring issues he had throughout the 2015 season and the three shoulder surgeries he’s had since high school. Cook tore his rotator cuff in high school, then tore the front part of his labrum in 2014, and the back part of the labrum in 2016. He’s also had run-ins with the law, starting in high school (robbery in 2009, charges dropped; firing and possessing a weapon on school property in 2010, charges drooped) and then again in 2015, where he was charged with misdemeanor battery outside a bar (found not guilty).
That’s quite a medical record … and rap sheet! While I’m certain that the team has taken every precaution, this seems on the surface to be an uncharacteristic risk for Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer. Nobody appears to question Cook’s on-field skills — it’s his off-field life choices that raise the questions.
In the third round, I’m pleased to report that my mock draft at least did get this pick right: Pat Elflein, Centre, THE [dramatic pause] Ohio State University. (This was another trade-up situation, swapping picks with the New York Jets to move up nine spots and throwing in the Vikings’ fifth-round pick, 128th overall).
Elflein (pronounced ELF-line) naturally wanted to be a Buckeye after growing up in Pickerington, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. The all-state pick (and four-year wrestler) was certainly coveted by Ohio State, as well. He didn’t get on the field much in his first two years (redshirted in 2012, reserve with one start in 2013), but then met his promise starting as a sophomore. Elflein earned the first of his three first-team All-Big Ten seasons that year, starting three times at left guard and 12 on the right side. In 2015, he received second-team Associated Press All-American status while dominating at right guard in every game. The team needed him to move to center as a senior, and his play resulted in first-team All-American recognition from various media outlets.
Rather than exercising their second pick in the third round, the Vikings traded the 22nd pick (86th overall) to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for KC’s third (104th overall), fourth (132nd overall), and seventh round (245th overall) picks. Then, just because it hadn’t already been confusing enough to track the Vikings’ picks, they traded the 104th pick acquired from KC to San Francisco in exchange for pick 109 and 219. If you’re following along at home, this means the Vikings’ day three picks are (pending even further wheeling and dealing on the part of “Trader” Rick Spielman):
- Fourth round, No. 109 (from San Francisco)
- Fourth round, No. 120
- Fourth round, No. 132 (from Kansas City)
- Sixth round, No. 199
- Seventh round, No. 219 (from San Francisco)
- Seventh round, No. 232
- Seventh round, No. 245 (from Kansas City)