The 2019 NFL Draft is officially in the books. 254 players heard their names called and told where their new homes will be at. The Minnesota Vikings will be home to 12 of them.
#18 – C Garrett Bradbury
#50 – TE Irv Smith Jr.
#102 – RB Alexander Mattison
#114 – G Dru Samia
#162 – LB Cameron Smith
#190 – DT Armon Watts
#191 – S Marcus Epps
#193 – OT Olisaemeka Udo
#217 – CB Kris Boyd
#239 – WR Dillon Mitchell
#247 – WR Olabisi Johnson
#250 – LS Austin Cutting
Here’s FPC Vikings’ take on the team’s 2019 rookie class:
Sam Smith: Top to bottom, this is a pretty solid draft for Spielman and company. They hit big winners on two of their biggest needs in three of their first four picks, found good athletic projects to develop late, and still scratched the defensive itch enough to make the coach happy. The constant trading back will have a lot of fans up in arms, to be sure. But they got a lot capital in return, and Spielman has consistently found solid players in rounds six and seven. The one miss to me was not getting starting defensive tackle talent, but that is a nitpick.
Clayton Brooks: Overall, I’m happy with this haul. The Vikings did what I thought they needed to do in this draft, and that was go heavy on offense. I was a little disappointed they couldn’t come out with a future left tackle, but they made up for that by doubling up on interior offensive linemen (Bradbury, then Samia). I was surprised the run on offense went as long as it did, but for the most part, I can’t find anything seriously wrong in their choices, unlike last year.
Sam: First pick was best pick. Garrett Bradbury was the best center prospect out there and my favorite line prospect, period. His athleticism is off the charts, his upper body strength elite and there was not a better blocker for outside zone in this class, bar none. He should slide into the lineup from the start, and kick Pat Elflein over to guard, where I assume he will perform better than he did last year at center.
Clayton: For me, it was Irv Smith Jr. This was not only a great value pick and potential steal, but he provides the much needed upgrade at the tight end position that the Vikings have been needing for quite some time. Not only does he provide good blocking, but may be an upgrade over Kyle Rudolph in the pass catching department in the long term. He has the ability to stretch the field and can also line up all over the formation. If they do retain Rudolph for 2019, pairing these two in 2-TE packages often should be a priority.
Least Favorite Pick
Sam: LS Austin Cutting was the worst pick, but my love for long snappers prevents me from calling it my least favorite. That has to go to Alexander Mattison for me. I understand he should function as a replacement for Latavius Murray, and his skills should translate well as a change of pace from Dalvin Cook. But a downhill runner with average speed and agility is not great value for me in round three.
But here is the thing: I did not hate this pick at all. Mattison brings utility as a receiver to a degree Murray never did, so I think he can be a productive player for Minnesota. This is simply a matter of how I value certain breeds of running backs in the first two days.
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Clayton: I’m in agreement with my teammate here, but just like he said, it’s kind of nitpicking. Mattison is a solid jack-of-all-trades type of running back. He can do it all but isn’t really great at any one thing. He’s also consistent and durable.
What sets him apart from the rest of the running backs on the Vikings’ roster is that he brings the physicality and power that went out the door when Murray departed in free agency. The knock here is that they likely could’ve gotten Mattison a round later. Other than the value, I can’t really find a problem with the pick. It’s still solid.
Sam: Irv Smith falling to the Vikings in round two was pretty shocking for me. I thought Jace Sternberger was more in play for them in the second, so when they came up at 50 and Smith was still available, it was really a no-brainer. He should be an immediate target and a solid replacement for Rudolph.
Clayton: Minnesota selecting offensive players on their first four selections was absolutely the biggest surprise of this draft for me. The first round was only surprising in that they passed on a quality left tackle in Andre Dillard to get a player in Bradbury who directly addresses the source of their offensive line problems.
There was no way the Vikings could pass on Smith Jr. once he fell in their laps. Going running back next was also quite unexpected. Oddly enough, I did expect them to grab another lineman in round four as most believed they needed to get at least two linemen with starter potential in this draft. The unexpected part was how many offensive players they took in a row.
Biggest Missed Opportunity
Sam: Trading out of the 81st pick. At that spot, there were a number of names I loved for the Vikings, most notably Khalen Saunders and Nate Davis. But the Vikings traded back to 88, and by the time they were on the clock again, both guys were gone. So were Jaylon Ferguson and Oshane Ximines, two other guys I liked at that spot. Alas, once value names slipped, it made sense for the Vikings to keep trading back in the third.
Clayton: I’m going with a different angle on trades. The fact that they didn’t manage a trade of one of their players was a missed opportunity. This is a team that is up against the cap and needs cash just to sign their rookie class.
There had to be some avenue to a decent trade that could’ve freed up cap space and brought in some draft picks Spielman could’ve worked with. They left the draft without dealing anyone and must still address this problem, only now they’re chances of getting an immediate, low-cost contributor in return is greatly reduced.
Sam: Minnesota filled major needs with good value players up and down the draft. I would give the draft a solid B+, with the only blemish being the relative lack of defensive tackle or pass rush help.
Clayton: This was a much better draft than last year. They attacked their core weaknesses early and addressed depth concerns in the later rounds before adding developmental prospects.
Last year, they gambled more heavily on developmental prospects and failed to adequately address the offensive line and it ended up costing them their 2018 season. This year, they took care of business, particularly in the first four rounds, before adding project players to work on. Right now, this is a B+.
–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.
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