Make sure to browse the entire Zone Coverage Draft Guide.
Before reading, it’s important to note that evaluating a team’s drafting habits is an inexact science. There are myriad variables that come into play: assistant coaches’ opinions, team needs and analytics.
But after four years of drafts with Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer calling the shots, certain tendencies have begun to develop, which can give us an idea of how the Vikings’ higher-ups might be thinking on draft night.
Here are 11 trends that have arisen since 2014 with Zimmer and Spielman at the helm.
Check out Arif Hasan’s February story for a deeper look into the Vikings’ preferred workout benchmarks. Some of the information is referenced below.
VIKINGS DRAFT PICKS SINCE 2014 (by position)
-The Vikings have drafted five wide receivers over the previous four years. Four of the five were taken in the fifth round or later with Stefon Diggs being the most successful. Moritz Boehringer and Rodney Adams are no longer on the team. Per Hasan, the Vikings have a penchant for acquiring wide receivers with above-average (1.91) “flying 20” times (20-yard split at full acceleration).
-Minnesota has only drafted one safety (Jayron Kearse) over the past four seasons – two if you include Jack Tocho, who converted from corner to safety. Both were taken in the seventh round. Beyond Harrison Smith (a 2012 first-round pick), their next two safeties in line are Andrew Sendejo and Anthony Harris, both undrafted.
-The Vikings have not drafted a quarterback since Teddy Bridgewater in the first round of the 2014 draft.
–Four consecutive years the Vikings have taken a linebacker in the seventh round who possessed above-average workout numbers (broad jump, vertical, 10-yard split). Only Stephen Weatherly remains, and he was converted to defensive end.
-The Vikings have selected a tight end in the fifth or sixth rounds each of the last three years. Only David Morgan II is still on the roster. Per Hasan, 10 of 12 tight ends added to the roster over the past four years had over 33-inch vertical leaps during their pre-draft process.
-The Spielman-Zimmer tandem has never selected a defensive lineman above the third round. According to Hasan, the Vikings prefer 3-technique defensive tackles under 300 pounds with fast short-shuttle times (better than 4.65) and nose tackles over 310 pounds with good results in explosive workouts (vertical above 28”, broad jump better than 8’4”). At defensive end, they look for three-cone times under 7.3, broad jumps over 9’7” and 10-yard splits under 1.67.
–Of the seven offensive linemen drafted under Zimmer and Spielman, six have come in rounds 4-7. Of those six, only Danny Isidora (last year’s fifth-round pick) remains.
-In the last three drafts, the Vikings have not drafted a cornerback below the second round (except Tocho, who quickly switched to safety). Per Hasan, when they’ve acquired cornerbacks in the past, 16 of 20 have possessed 40-yard dash times better than 4.48.
-Rick Spielman loves amassing third-day picks. He’s gotten multiple seventh-rounders each of the last four years, and multiple sixth-rounders three of four years.
-Three out of four years the average age of Minnesota’s draft picks has been below 22 years old. The oldest draft in that time frame, 2015, saw the draft class’s average age jump to 22.3, but ironically, that was the year when the Vikings landed one of the draft’s youngest players, 20-year-old Danielle Hunter.
–Over the last four years, the Vikings have drafted 13 ACC players – far more than the next closest conference (Big Ten, six players). On the other end of the spectrum, they’ve only drafted two Big XII players in that time frame (OL Tyrus Thompson and LB Elijah Lee, neither of whom made the team).
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