How was this all going to work?
The three newest Vikings weren’t totally sure. This was new to them. New to the organization as well.
One by one, the athletic defensive tackle, the lockdown corner and the raw but promising receiver took their new purple jerseys — No. 76 for Sharrif Floyd, No. 29 for Xavier Rhodes, No. 84 for Cordarrelle Patterson — and climbed onto a platform to align for the cameras.
The day-after photo op is a requirement following the NFL draft’s first round. Prospects grab new, flat-billed caps, hold up jerseys and smile like all their dreams have come true.
It’s just incredibly rare for a team to be squeezing three grinning playmakers together at once.
So on Friday in the Winter Park field house, the stage quickly became cluttered. So much so that after owner Mark Wilf circled to the right of Floyd and Zygi Wilf sandwiched Patterson and Rhodes from the left, General Manager Rick Spielman and coach Leslie Frazier were wedged into the background.
“A good problem for us to be having,” Spielman quipped, suddenly looking as he if was photo-bombing a moment he had been so influential in creating.
This was the defining snapshot of the Vikings’ 2013 draft, a nine-player class headlined by three guys who all, at one point or another, were touted as top-15-caliber picks.
“There’s no question in my mind we’ve gotten better,” Frazier said.
If Spielman’s first draft as GM had produced an immediate jackpot with a Matt Kalil-Harrison Smith exacta paying off on offense and defense, the Vikings seemed to have a tough act to follow on Night 1 this year.
Then, in the span of 50 minutes Thursday, Spielman stole the show.
Plucking Floyd at 23 and Rhodes at 25 set off a defensive celebration in the Vikings’ war room, with Frazier finding coordinator Alan Williams and secondary coach Joe Woods for high-fives.
If the night had ended there, the Vikings would have been thrilled. Yet rather than wait until Day 2 to find a big-time playmaker at receiver, the Vikings caught the ear of New England with a trade pitch that will forever define their 2013 draft.
Whether the four-picks-for-one deal seemed too expensive, in Patterson the Vikings secured a dynamic receiver whose childhood role model was Randy Moss, whose game, he says, can resemble Julio Jones’ and whose versatility allows him to be a chess board queen — as an outside deep threat, a slot or backfield bottle rocket.
Who knows? Maybe that initial Thursday night focus on defense had offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave feeling left out.
Said Spielman: “He was walking around a little bit with a sad-puppy look on his face. But he perked up real quick.”
Six more players