As a sports blogger and Vikings fan the NFL draft is one of the best weekends of the year. This year was even better than usual because it included the intrigue of another Bison quarterback getting drafted or not & several other players from the FCS champs looking to get an opportunity in the world's top pro Football league. So here are what I consider to be the top 10 facts related to all those elements.
First thing's first - 13 months ago I made a prediction because I'm an independent thinker and I'm not going to pander to any amount of people if I don't believe something to be true. At that time I didn't think that Easton Stick had done enough or shown enough to be among the 11 players at the position to get called by a team. The 2018 season that he had showed me more than I had seen over his previous 2.5 years and my tune changed so much so that I became pretty sure that he would be drafted. I stand by what I said in March of 2018 and I stand by the change of my opinion when it came to be in November. Considering that the projected range of his entrance into the NFL was anywhere from third round to undrafted til the draft started I don't think my original take was outlandish or that my revised opinion was either. I'm glad for Easton. He ended up in a great spot in what I hope will be a long professional career!
You may or may not have seen my pick by pick reactions to the Vikings selections. I'm not going to pretend like there's anything earth shattering in any of them but they were just my initial thoughts about each pick, shortly after the announcements. So go check em, or not, either way. As far as the totality of the 12 player draft class, I'd give it a B+.
I'm still not convinced that going with a Center in the first round or a Bama skill position player in the second was the most prudent way to attack the start of the weekend but there's no going back now. If Bradbury goes on to be a hall of fame caliber player and Smith establishes himself as one of the best tight ends in the league, I'll gladly eat some crow & enjoy the ride!
As for the 10 picks that followed, I've got nothing bad to say about any of them. The team addressed needs and gave itself plenty of opportunities to find more diamonds in the rough. Of the seven players taken during the final two round, there are three that I'm more interested in hearing about than the others - Olisaemeka Udoh (OL, Elon), Kris Boyd (CB, Texas) & Austin Cutting (LS, Air Force).
With Udoh it's the fact that he's a small school guy and I'm all for seeing those guy's succeed. With Boyd it's because there has been so much speculation about the future of the CB group and it's not possible to have too many in today's NFL. Cutting will be an interesting story because of his service requirement. He finished as an elite Long Snapper so if the Air Force can come to an agreement with the Vikings then maybe part of the kicking issue that seems to never end will be resolved - in part. If a few or all of this year's rookies find a way to make the team and make impacts then the team will be in a great position to return to the form of 2017!
The Vikings also added a couple interesting players after the draft concluded. The most interesting name to most may be Washington quarterback Jake Browning. I'm curious to see how the Husky does over the camps and practices but there isn't one name from that group that I'm more curious about over the rest. They got commitments from players at all the same positions that they drafted so their purpose's going into Thursday couldn't have been addressed more clearly!
As for the local talent looking to continue their playing lives, Stick was the first but not the last. He'll be joined in Southern California by one of his Bison guardians as Tanner Volson also came to an agreement with the Chargers. Those two will take the baton from Kyle Emanuel in the organization.
On the other coast another pair of champions inked agreements with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Within minutes of the picks concluding Bruce Anderson had a deal with one of his home state teams. Not long after, Jalen Allison also had a deal with the Bucs. All four of them have a long road between now & September but the first steps were good ones!
Another two of NDSU's finest accepted invitations to rookie mini camps. Rob Grimsley will first travel to New Orleans while Darrius Shepherd will be in Green Bay. That's a crystal clear conflict of interests for me but hopefully those are just the first stops for them, not where they end up sticking for the rest of the offseason!
That six pack represents more than half of the senior participants from NDSU's pro day and if they're willing to accept it, a few more could find their way into the Canadian league. It's already an impressive accomplishment for those young men and the program which could get even better. What wasn't included was a Bison/Viking union, again. It still doesn't compute why the closest pro team is so opposed to giving Bison players a real shot but for the Vikings it was also a very successful three days of activity. It's not often that wins can be claimed so widely but for the teams in the Northern Heartland, that's exactly how it all shook out!
Congratulations & best wishes to each and every one!