Four trades and 10 picks: Recapping the Vikings' 2014 draft
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Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman maneuvered four draft-day trades to turn eight picks into 10 players in the 2014 NFL Draft that wrapped up Saturday.
The first big splash game just before 11 p.m. CT on Thursday night when Spielman, for the third consecutive year, traded back into the first round. The Vikings took the next stab at a franchise quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater at 32.
But the focus was all defense.
For a team that has averaged just eight wins per season since 2009-10 - and coming off the NFL's worst scoring defense in 2013 - Minnesota used seven of the team's 10 picks on defense, including the final five. Nine of the team's 12 free agent signings this offseason were also on the defensive side of the football.
(1) No. 9 LB Anthony Barr
(1) No. 32 QB Teddy Bridgewater
(3) No. 72 DE Scott Crichton
(3) No. 96 RB Jerick McKinnon
(5) No. 145 G David Yankey
(6) No. 182 S Antone Exum
(6) No. 184 CB Kendall James
(7) No. 220 DT Shamar Stephen
(7) No. 223 LB Brandon Watts
(7) No. 225 CB Jabari Price
Spielman made two trades on Saturday to turn five picks into six, three of those in the seventh round.
The Vikings added multiple players at each level of the defense with a pair of linebackers (Barr, Watts), three defensive backs (Exum, James, Price) and two defensive linemen (Stephen, Crichton).
Thursday: Minnesota traded No. 8 overall to the Browns in exchange for No. 9 overall and a fifth-round pick at No. 145.
Players: LB Anthony Barr at 9, OG David Yankey at 145
Thursday: Minnesota gave Seattle a second-round (40th) pick and a fourth-round (108th) pick for the Seahawks' 32nd overall pick in the first round.
Players: QB Teddy Bridgewater at 32
Saturday: Minnesota sent the 148th pick to Carolina for the 168th pick and a seventh-round selection at 225.
Players: Traded 168 to ATL, CB Jabari Price at 225.
Saturday: Minnesota traded the 168th pick to the Falcons for the 182nd and 220th picks.
Players: DB Antone Exum at 182, DT Shamar Stephen at 220
Most of the Vikings' added depth on defense came in later rounds: five of seven selections came in the sixth and seventh.
Plenty of players have excelled after receiving little to no draft attention, but here's a look at how many of Minnesota's sixth and seventh round picks are still on the Vikings' roster.
Sixth, seventh round selections still on roster
Since 2011: 6 of 13 [46%]
Since 2008: 8 of 19 [42%]
The new impact players the Vikings seek will likely come through their numerous free agency pickups and/or early-round picks. Linebacker Anthony Barr should be slotted as the starting strongside linebacker, while Jasper Brinkley, Michael Mauti and Audie Cole jockey for the middle between Barr and Chad Greenway in Mike Zimmer's 4-3 scheme.
Minnesota's third-round selection in defensive end Scott Crichton should provide stable depth on the edges of the Vikings' pass rush to accompany Brian Robison, Everson Griffen and Corey Wootton. Safety Antone Exum could also play cornerback, but should provide competition for Jamarca Sanford and Andrew Sendejo to start alongside Harrison Smith.
Cornerbacks Kendall James and Jabari Price join a contingent that now boasts 10 cornerbacks, headed by Xavier Rhodes and Captain Munnerlyn, heading into summer workouts. Spielman's next step is to sign undrafted free agents and extend invites to those voluntary workouts.
Bottom line: Spielman says he doesn't draft by need, but by best player available. While the Vikings waited to take a defensive back (36 drafted before they took Antone Exum at 182), Minnesota still filled major areas of need at QB, LB, OG and RB, electing to go quantity over quality with three DBs in later rounds. Spielman has hit on nearly every first round pick in his brief tenure as general manager, but none of them will matter unless Bridgewater pans out as an effective NFL starter.