RandBall: Michael Rand

In the 2010 draft, the Vikings traded out of the first round, then wound up with Chris Cook and Toby Gerhart in the second round — a cornerback who never panned out and a running back who was an extreme luxury item with Adrian Peterson in his prime.

If not for the Everson Griffen pick in the fourth round — a move that didn’t pay off for a couple of years, mind you, but paid off big-time when it did — that draft would be close to a total washout.

Few judged it too harshly at the time, figuring the Vikings were coming off an NFC title game appearance and were bringing back virtually every key player from that team.

The 2010 Vikings, though, got old in a hurry. Without an influx of talent or meaningful depth, they went 6-10 and triggered a rebuild.

That team was more veteran-heavy than these current Vikings, but this point is still valid: Minnesota, once again coming off a year in which it was one game short of reaching the Super Bowl, must take this draft seriously — collecting players who can contribute immediately and grow into bigger roles.

It sounds obvious, so let’s go a step further: Armed with the No. 30 pick just as they originally were in 2010, the Vikings need to get the best offensive lineman available. Don’t trade down. Trade up if you must. But get either a guard or tackle who can elevate an improved line into a genuinely good one.

The 2018 season and Kirk Cousins’ productivity as well as his health just might depend on it.

 

Michael Rand is the senior digital writer for Star Tribune sports and keeper of the RandBall blog at startribune.com/RandBall.

The Vikings are a team with changing dynamics.

Some of their top players are moving out of their rookie contracts and are in line for big paydays, and the team forked over a lot of money in free agency for quarterback Kirk Cousins.

To fill out the roster and stay competitive in the short term and long term, the Vikings need to hit on their draft picks. The best way to maximize your chances of that is by getting as many draft picks as possible.

The Vikings enter this year’s draft with eight picks. They hold the No. 30 selection in the first round. Trying to trade up a significant amount of spots from there would be akin to committing a major draft sin.

It would require trading a significant chunk of this year’s and perhaps next year’s draft supply.

General Manager Rick Spielman generally likes to have as many draft picks as possible, but he has shown a willingness to trade up if he feels he should.

This should be not one of those years. Spielman should look to trade down as much as he can and grab as many lottery tickets as he can and hope that the Vikings’ ability to nurture and develop talent will help find a couple hidden gems that can turn into potential studs with some seasoning.

Finding starting-caliber talent on rookie deals is the way to succeed in the modern NFL, and you need as many tries to find those players as possible.

 

Chris Hine is the lead writer for North Score, the Star Tribune’s sports analytics beat. Find his stories at startribune.com/northscore.