For better or worse, my favorite football team is the Vikings. They busted out and made some waves by adding three difference makers on Thursday night in Florida defensive tackle Sharif Floyd, Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes, and Tennessee wide receiver Cordarelle Patterson.
It is rare that a team adds three first-round picks to their roster. The last time it happened was in 2001 when the St. Louis Rams drafted defensive linemen Ryan Pickett and Damoine Lewis and safety Adam Archuleta.
After a mixed bag of 2013 player personnel decisions that included parting ways with the only receiver that struck fear in the opposition in Percy Harvin, retaining the inconsistent Jerome Simpson, and deeming long-time standout corner Antoine Winfield expendable, the Vikings needed to make a positive statement on Thursday and they did.
Floyd has all the tools to succeed as an under tackle in an even man front. He will learn from a tremendous playmaking defensive tackle in Kevin Williams. The Vikings were very fortunate that Floyd made it to pick 23 as many draftniks figured that Floyd would go to Oakland third overall. While he was the third defensive tackle to hear his name called in the draft, Floyd could turn out to be the best tackle in this year’s class. At 6’3 and 297 pounds, he has a solid frame and excellent quickness to disrupt plays before they have a chance to materialize. He was courted by master recruiter Urban Meyer, never known to covet defensive players with limited agility and tight hips.
Everyone and their grandmother knew that Xavier Rhodes was going to be a first round pick after running a 4.4 40- yard dash at the Scouting Combine. It was surprising that he lasted to pick 25 , obtained when the Vikings traded Harvin to Seattle. I really like the 6’2 Rhodes, he reminds me a lot of fellow Florida State blue-chipper Antonio Cromartie in terms of ball skills, height, and arm length. The last time the Vikings invested a first-rounder in a corner was in 1994 when they picked NC State DB Dewayne Washington. Rhodes figures to be more aggressive than Washington, who is a staple on old-school NFL film clips featuring him getting burned by the likes of Jerry Rice and Herman Moore. The trade of Darrelle Revis also helped the Vikings be in position to land Rhodes. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded the 13th overall pick to the New York Jets in exchange for the All-Pro corner with the sweet moniker of “Revis Island.”
Patterson is the X-factor of this draft-day coup. I really like him because he is an explosive big-play threat who can take the top off of a defense. His dynamic skill set can add value to the Vikings as an outside receiver and as a returner. At a tick under 6’2, Patterson is well-built with impressive definition in his arms. He wasn’t extremely productive like say, a Ryan Swope. In his lone SEC campaign, Patterson caught 46 passes and registered 778 receiving yards opposite 2nd round pick Justin Hunter. Also well-documented were his momentary lapses in concentration that led to a few dropped passes. The Vikings sorely needed a stud on the outside and they picked him with the 29th selection after brokering a draft-day trade with New England.
The rest of the Vikings draft weekend haul was a mixed bag.
Adding another talented wide receiver like a Quinton Patton or the aforementioned Swope would have been gravy and taking a lottery pick on a big-armed raw quarterback like Tennessee QB Tyler Bray would have been intriguing, but that is just a self-admitted case of splitting hairs. The trio of round one talent will be critical to the short and long-term outlook of this franchise. Many have labeled the Vikings as “winners” of the Draft. However, it is important to remember that many so-called experts said the same of the Purple after picking Troy Williamson and Erasmus James in the 2005 Draft. How did that pan out?