Players say an NFL locker room is one of the most diverse workplaces you’ll find in America. The numbers show that.
The Vikings roster, before the start of the 2018 NFL draft on Thursday, is comprised of players from 14 of 25 NCAA Division-I football conferences across the country, two Division-II programs and one local Division-III team. The current locker room represents over half of the United States, from Oregon to Florida.
So can this tell us something about General Manager Rick Spielman’s draft preferences?
Spielman seems to have an affinity for the ACC — the Vikings drafted Dalvin Cook, Danny Isidora, Stacy Coley, Bucky Hodges and Jack Tocho all from the ACC last year.
Conversely, Spielman rarely picks from the Big 12 conference with just two selections — Tyrus Thompson (Oklahoma) and Elijah Lee (Kansas State) — in his six drafts at the controls.
Chances are also the Vikings’ 2018 draft picks will come with pedigree. Of Spielman’s 58 Vikings picks as GM, 45 were either three- or four-star recruits coming out of high school. Eighteen current Vikings players were not given a recruiting ranking out of high school, but only one — tight end David Morgan — was drafted by the Vikings.
Below you’ll find four breakdowns of the Vikings’ current roster, which could tell you a little something about how they acquire players.
By conference
About 75 percent of Spielman’s draft picks since he became GM have been from four of the five power conferences. The Vikings have drafted more players from the American Athletic Conference than the Big 12, a conference dominated by spread offenses that rarely put offensive linemen in a three-point stance.
They’ve also had a penchant for drafting teammates, including Miami receiver Stacy Coley and guard Danny Isidora last year, Clemson defensive backs Mackensie Alexander and Jayron Kearse in 2016, UCLA linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks in 2014-2015 and Penn St. linebackers Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges in 2014.
One college doesn’t dominate the Vikings’ interest, but UCLA is most represented today with four players.
By round
There’s a chance somebody else’s pick ends up on the Vikings’ roster someday. Pedigree is a priority for coach Mike Zimmer, who is confident in his coaching staff to mold talent. Misses occur, including former first-round picks like tackle Andre Smith and defensive tackle Datone Jones. But there are eight former first-round picks leading the current roster and three — Sheldon Richardson, Riley Reiff and Kendall Wright — weren’t drafted by the Vikings.
The roster is mostly comprised of undrafted players, ranging from receiver Adam Thielen to linebacker Eric Wilson. One quirk is the Vikings have just two third-round picks (Danielle Hunter and Pat Elflein) on the roster before this draft.
By state of HS football
There’s a marginal chance if you played Florida high school football, the Vikings will draft you. More players (10) on the roster have come from Florida than any other state. That includes draft picks Dalvin Cook, Xavier Rhodes and Mackensie Alexander.
The Vikings have recently found gems in their own backyard. More players come from Minnesota than California, Michigan, New York and many other states. However, they haven’t drafted any of them: Adam Thielen, Marcus Sherels, C.J. Ham, Brandon Zylstra and Tom Compton.
By college recruiting stars
Talent is a great start. It’s also how many players get second chances. Even though the Vikings have drafted more three- and two-star college recruits, the roster has more four- and five-star recruits.
Pedigree can be found all over the draft. Receiver Stefon Diggs was a five-star recruit taken in the fifth round. Defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo was a former four-star recruit taken in the seventh. Obviously much of the talent is taken at the top, where the Vikings have found former five-star recruits like Dalvin Cook and Kyle Rudolph.