Minnesota Vikings, NFL Draft Retrospective

Minnesota Vikings 2016 NFL Draft Retrospective

Mike Zimmer’s drafting abilities have been hit-and-miss, but Laquon Treadwell has become a defining flub.

Heading into the 2016 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings were looking to improve upon their 11-5 finish and their heartbreaking loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. In order to do that, the franchise looked to improve upon their pass catchers to help recently acquired quarterback Sam Bradford as well as pair with wide receiver Stefon Diggs after Mike Wallace didn’t prove to be what they hoped he would be when they traded for him. In addition, the team looked to get younger at cornerback since Terence Newman was getting older.

Any team coached by Mike Zimmer needs two things on defense to get results: a strong pass rush and some good coverage in the secondary. Minnesota held eight selections during the 2016 NFL Draft, but traded away their third-round selection on draft day to the Miami Dolphins for future selections. Still, there is plenty to love and regret about the draft class of the Vikings that year.

Original Grade

Sports Illustrated: B

FanSided: B+

Draft Class

Round 1 (Pick 23)

Laquon Treadwell

WR, Ole Miss

Current Team: Minnesota Vikings

Oh boy, this pick hasn’t aged well at all. For all the good Mike Zimmer has done in Minnesota, it’s things like the Treadwell pick that come back to haunt him. What makes this an even more bizarre pick is the fact that Zimmer collects cornerbacks like baseball cards, but passed on Xavian Howard and Williams Jackson to take him. Compounding that is the fact that a former first-round pick is an absolute afterthought when compared to Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.

Zimmer also prides himself as a defensive mastermind but picked Treadwell over Myles Jack, Jaylon Smith and Chris Jones. Imagine how great any of those guys would have looked in the Vikings brooding defense over these last few years.

Meanwhile, as Jack goes to Pro Bowls in Jacksonville and Jones holds out for Frank Clark money in Kansas City, Treadwell is likely playing his final season in Minnesota.

Round 2 (Pick 54)

Mackensie Alexander

CB, Clemson

Current Team: Minnesota Vikings

Disappointing would be a good way to describe guy who was supposed to anchor a great cornerback corps. But it’s also hard to fault Alexander for being boxed out in the depth chart by a star like Xaver Rhodes and the formidable Trae Waynes. Alexander being behind Holton Hill is concerning, as you expect much more out of a second round pick than to simply be a depth guy, but that’s what Alexander is at this point.

In another secondary, say the one in Tampa Bay or out in Oakland, Alexander could be a No. 1 corner. But he’s buried in Minnesota as one of the artifacts that Zimmer Indiana Jones’d and condemned to his depth chart museum.

Round 4 (Pick 121)

Willie Beavers

OG, Western Michigan

Current Team: San Francisco 49ers

Beavers has been nothing more than practice squad fodder for most of his career, which is not what you’re looking for out of a fourth round pick. It’s not insane to think of a guy drafted here busting out, but when compounded with all of the Vikings other draft misses in recent years, it’s an extra dirty smudge on Mike Zimmer’s record.

Round 5 (Pick 160)

Kentrell Brothers

LB, Missouri

Current Team: Minnesota Vikings

Brothers has been a decent role player for the Vikings in the time he’s seen, but the depth that he provides is not the key takeaway here. Tyreek Hill was selected five picks later, and both numbs up the Brothers pick and makes the Treadwell selection in the first round look even worse. As bad as Kirk Cousins was in 2018, imagine the Vikings defense heading to Philadelphia for the NFC Championship Game in 2017 — with Case Keenum — knowing the offense had weapons like Diggs, Thielen, Kyle Rudolph and Tyreek Hill.

Round 6 (Pick 180)

Moritz Böhringer

WR/TE, Germany

Current Team: Cincinnati Bengals

This was as ceremonious a pick as it gets. Böhringer was a cool draft story and is the first ever European player to be plucked straight from Europe in the draft without having attended college. The sad part about this is that even though Böhringer didn’t do anything in Minnesota and now plays a new position in Cincinnati, he might have been more productive than the receiver the Vikings took in the first-round.

Round 6 (Pick 188)

David Morgan III

TE, UTSA

Current Team: Minnesota Vikings

Morgan may be a late-round pick and the forgotten man on the tight end depth chart, but he’s still on the team three years later. Special teams play is a part of this, but Morgan is one of a handful of guys to have found a way to make it work.

Round 7 (Pick 227)

Stephen Weatherly

LB, Vanderbilt

Current Team: Minnesota Vikings

Another late-round pick still kicking around Minnesota, Weatherly has provided the Vikings with some solid linebacker depth. It’s a strong position for Minnesota, and Weatherly is a part of that.

Round 7 (Pick 244)

Jevon Kearse

S, Clemson

Current Team: Minnesota Vikings

Kearse is behind starting free safety Anthony Williams on the depth chart, but this is another late-round value pick for depth. Zimmer has his moments, and Kearse is certainly one of them — interpret that as you will.

Retrospective Grade

Given what we know about the lack of return on Laquon Treadwell, it would be easy to look down on this draft class. However, the development of Alexander and contributions from Kearse, Weatherly, Brothers, and Morgan helps to make up for the misses on Treadwell, Boehringer, and Beavers.

The mid-to-late round bargains were nice surprises, but any time your first round selection doesn’t work out, the draft grade has to take a hit. Still, Minnesota could have done much worse with their selections while wishing they could have others back.

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