With the 2017 NFL free agency period largely in the rearview, the Minnesota Vikings, along with the rest of the league, have turned their attention to the NFL Draft, set to take place April 27th through April 29th.
The Vikings head into the draft with several needs to address, but are also looking to add impact talent wherever they can find it. As the Vikings finalize their draft board and projections, we will evaluate each of the position groups and look at the possibility of moves at each group, beginning with the quarterback position.
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Sam Bradford*, Teddy Bridgewater (IR), Case Keenum, Taylor Heinicke
(*) – projected or incumbent starter
The Vikings entered 2016 with the hopes of Teddy Bridgewater being poised for a big year. Those expectations were crushed before the season even opened, when he tore his ACL and dislocated his kneecap during a preseason practice and forced the team to trade away their 2017 first-round selection (the number 14 overall pick) to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for Sam Bradford.
Sam Bradford’s 2016 stat line: 71.6 completion percentage, 3,877 passing yards, 20 Touchdowns, five interceptions, 99.3 passer rating, 63.0 quarterback Rating, 37 Sacks
Despite having to learn on the run, it can be argued that Bradford did his part to help the Vikings win games. Injuries and underperformance along the offensive line were at the heart of the team’s offensive struggles as they were unable to open holes for runners and too often failed to protect the quarterback. Though he set an NFL record for the highest completion percentage, Bradford also finished near the bottom of the league in yards per attempt, due in large part to the offensive line’s inability to provide consistent protection; forcing him to throw short on most of his pass attempts. Bradford did prove to be durable as he started 15 of 16 games, only sitting out the season opener via the coach’s decision after arriving just eight days prior in the trade.
Need (none; 1 — desperate; 10): 1 to 2
Chances Vikings draft a quarterback: Low
Despite the inefficiency of the Vikings’ offense in 2016, the quarterback was not the focal point of the issues. Head coach, Mike Zimmer, said early after the season had ended that Bradford played well enough to earn the right to go into 2017 as the team’s incumbent starter. If the Vikings do take a quarterback in this year’s draft, it’ll likely be in the later rounds. Being that the team has several roster needs of greater priority, along the recent addition of Case Keenum, the strongest possibility is that Minnesota will look to pick up a rookie prospect after the draft, if they add one at all.