Having traded away their original second round pick to Seattle to move back up to the bottom of the first round to get Teddy Bridgewater, the Vikings started the evening with only two third round picks. There was some speculation about Rick Spielman trading back up into the second round, but nobody had solid ideas about which player the team might have wanted urgently enough to give up any more later round picks. Spielman later said that they’d tried to “make some movement” but that they couldn’t come up with “a deal we felt comfortable with”.
The Vikings selected Oregon State defensive end Scott Crichton with the first of their third round picks. The Daily Norseman‘s Eric Thompson says this was a good selection:
With many fans expecting the team to go after a corner with the 72nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Vikings got another talented pass rusher in Oregon State defensive end Scott Crichton. It was definitely a “value” pick — Crichton had a second round grade on most draft boards and was widely considered one of the best five or six edge rushers available in the draft. Mere moments after being chosen by the Vikings, Crichton jumped on a conference call to talk with Twin Cities beat writers.
Crichton played a little linebacker his freshman year at Oregon State, but make no mistake about it–he’ll be on the field to get after the quarterback. The Beavers ran a 4-3 defense and Crichton’s bread and butter was his pass rush. “That’s my thing. I love to get after the quarterback.” He played on both sides of the line with the Beavers along with some plays. Like most draft pundits Crichton expected to be drafted in the third round but nonchalantly claimed that the “third round’s fine”. “I’m just grateful for this opportunity. I’m ready to show what I can do and prove people wrong for not picking me earlier.”
At the press conference after the selection, Rick Spielman said “He’s not very nice on the field, which you like to see.”
With their last pick of the evening, the Vikings selected running back Jerick McKinnon from Georgia Southern. Arif Hasan said that McKinnon had been a stand-out performer at the combine, but that he’ll be a bit of a project (despite “insane measureables”). He’s certainly not a carbon copy of Toby Gerhart, being 5’9″ tall, weighing 209 lbs, and boasting a 4.4 time at the combine. His college football career was an odd one: started out as a cornerback, then eventually becoming a quarterback and running back (Ben Goessling refers to his role as having been “triple-option”, which is a new one on me). His role isn’t as clear-cut as you’d think, despite being drafted as a running back, during the NFL Network draft coverage, Mike Mayock said he could even start at safety in the NFL. On the official Vikings overview, his weaknesses make you think the team has other plans for him: “On the short side. Runs a bit upright and hesitant. Average burst to the perimeter. Not a creative, make-you-miss runner. Very limited career receiving production (10 career catches). Not stout in pass protection.” Those last two items are not what you’d expect if the team was planning to use McKinnon to spell Adrian Peterson on third down. Ideally, your third round running back would be an experienced receiver with good blocking skills.
With both Chrichton and McKinnon, the Vikings clearly valued their athletic potential or “upside” over more polished players with lower theoretical potential. That’s a strong indication of confidence that they can teach technique on both sides of the ball. And given the strength of the new coaching staff, that’s a sensible approach. Neither of these players is likely to start as rookies, but they both have versatility in the roles they could fill and given a year of seasoning, they could become useful parts of the puzzle down the road.
The Vikings have four picks remaining in today’s final four rounds of the draft: 145th (5th), 148th (5th), 184th (6th) and 223rd (7th) … before we account for Trader Rick’s taste for wheeling and dealing, anyway.
Update: Arif Hasan profiles Scott Chrichton and Jerick McKinnon. Arif’s always good at analysis.