That would seem to be a recipe for trouble. But in a bit of fortune, not having a pick in the top 32 this year is not as devastating as it might normally be for a team desperate to land offensive line starters. Dane Brugler, a draft analyst for CBS Sports, joined the Access Vikings podcast Wednesday to explain why.
“It’s not a strong class of offensive linemen,” he said. We might have two or three offensive linemen drafted in the first round, and even that is a stretch.”
That stands in stark contrast to 2015 and 2016, when seven offensive linemen were taken in the first round of both drafts.
“That’s where it works to the Vikings’ advantage. You’re probably not going to get your guy in the first round this year,” Brugler said. “In the second and third rounds I think there are some quality depth guys at both tackle and guard.”
Minnesota, which has one pick in the second round and two each in the third and fourth rounds, could land O-linemen they like at those spots and/or package some of those picks to move up the board to get players they particularly covet.
Two caveats, though: the Vikings, who find themselves in the predicament of needing a major offensive line overhaul in large part because they have invested just two picks in the top three rounds to the line in the last 10 drafts, might be forced to reach for players to fill needs.
“Sometimes you have to spend a higher pick than you want because of the landscape of the draft,” Brugler said.
And about using late-round picks on offensive linemen (a strategy the Vikings have used to limited success in recent years)? This year it’s particularly dicey because the thin crop of linemen means the pool will be pretty shallow by rounds 5, 6, and 7.
“You will be able to find guys on day 3,” Brugler said. “Future starters? That’s tough.”
If the Vikings also decide to use one of their earlier picks on a running back to offset the potential loss of Adrian Peterson, there will be plenty of options.
“This is an outstanding class of running backs,” Brugler said. We’ve seen a lot of juniors come out early. … We’re going to see a lot of guys go early, top 15. Then a few top 50 guys. Then there are some quality guys in the second and third rounds like Samaje Perine from Oklahoma, Marlon Mack from South Florida and D’Onta Foreman from Texas.”
Just remember: there are no sure things in the draft. Last year almost everyone figured the Vikings needed a big wide receiver. They took Laquon Treadwell in the first round, and he finished 2016 with just one catch.
“You’d never expect that you would draft a wide receiver in the first round, especially a player with the talent of Treadwell, and just see such a lack of production and playing time,”Brugler said. “Based on his evaluation and tape at the college level, he’s a very good player.”