EAGAN (FOX 9) - Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has very specific instructions from within his own household when it comes to the No. 18 pick in the NFL Draft Thursday night.
“Everybody has angst. My wife, I’ll leave that at home. She said if I draft another corner, don’t come home. You can just stay at the office,” Spielman said.
The Vikings general manager is getting ready for his eighth NFL Draft in that role, and 14th overall as a leader in the front office. When it comes to the draft, pretty much everybody has an opinion. The first-round pick has the best chance to make an immediate impact on a 53-man roster. It’s what makes the No. 18 pick for the Vikings so crucial Thursday night, after missing the NFC Playoffs last year for the third time in five seasons under Mike Zimmer.
So do they fill a need with No. 18? Do they take the best player available? Do they make a trade? A lot of it depends on what happens with the 17 picks before the Vikings are on the clock in Nashville. Adding to the offensive line is the most logical choice, with Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison added to the offensive staff, and the Vikings looking to get back to running the football more effectively next season.
Minnesota was ranked No. 30 of 32 teams in rushing last season, and in his first season as Vikings’ quarterback, Kirk Cousins was sacked the second-most times in his career.
“I understand where everything is, but I also understand that if we have a guy that we think is a Pro Bowl talent, and for some reason that guy falls to us at 18, how do you not take that player?” Spielman said. “Plus, you have to balance out the depth at each position too. If there’s a unique situation where a Pro Bowl-caliber player falls to you at 18 and you’re taking a lesser talented player, I think you’re going to make a mistake.”
It's a pivotal year for both Spielman and Zimmer, who had their contracts extended in the offseason through the 2020 season.
Last year with the Vikings looking to add to their offensive line, they took cornerback Mike Hughes in the first round. He was having a standout rookie year before a season-ending knee injury.
In 2017, Dalvin Cook was brought in at running back to replace Adrian Peterson. They added to the offensive line in the third round that year with center Pat Elflein.
While offensive line seems like the obvious choice at No. 18, it’s no guarantee. The Vikings haven’t used a first-round pick on that position since Spielman’s first season as general manager. It was 2012, and it was Matt Kalil.
It doesn’t appear likely, according to Spielman, that this year’s draft will be used to move current players on the roster to add draft picks. One such player to be rumored in potential trades is Trae Waynes. He’s due to make more than $9 million this season, and becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2020.
He started 14 games last year, finishing with 44 tackles and one interception.
Spielman said he hasn’t been approached with any potential trade offers as the NFL Draft is two days away.
“If they do, it would have to be of value to get rid of a player. Because I think we do have a pretty good roster. This is the last chance of this whole process to make a significant improvement to your roster, during the draft,” Spielman said. “I can’t predict anything, I have no idea. I can say no right now and then get a phone call an hour later.”
Anything is possible, or maybe it’s not. That’s the beauty of the NFL Draft, nobody knows until it happens.