Minnesota Vikings 2017 NFL Draft retrospective

(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

How should the Minnesota Vikings feel about their 2017 NFL Draft class after three years? We take a deep dive into it.

In 2017 free agency, the Minnesota Vikings made moves to address needs at both offensive tackle spots (Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers) and added Latavius Murry to a running back mix that was without Adrian Peterson. One seemingly inconsequential signing wound up paying off nicely, as quarterback Case Keenum was pressed into action and had a career year up until the NFC Championship Game.

But heading into the draft, the offensive line still stood as a need and the team was without its first-round pick. That pick was sent it to the Philadelphia Eagles for quarterback Sam Bradford late in the 2016 preseason after Teddy Bridgewater suffered a career-altering knee injury. The Eagles would take defensive end Derek Barnett with that 14th overall pick in the 2017 draft.

Here’s a look at the Vikings’ 2017 draft class.

Original Grade

FanSided: B+

"The Vikings lost their first round pick in the Sam Bradford trade, and still wound up with the player that many would have mocked to the team in the first round. Granted, they did have to trade up in order to secure the selection of Cook. Still, the got quite possibly the top running back in the class and they got him 37 picks after the first running back fell off of the board."

Draft Class

Round 2 (No. 41)

Seminoles . Dalvin Cook. 1. player. 804. . RB

CURRENT TEAM: Minnesota Vikings

Off-field concerns took a first-round talent in Dalvin Cook and dropped him into the second round. He added a diverse skill set to the backfield that included Jerick McKinnon along with free agent signing Murray.

A torn ACL cost Cook all but four games of his rookie season, and a lingering hamstring issue cost him five full games while limiting him in others during the 2018 campaign.

But the Gary Kubiak influenced offensive schemed proved to be a great fit for Cook last season. He finished with 1,135 rushing yards (10th in the league) and 13 touchdowns along with 53 catches for 519 yards. But he also missed two games at the end of the regular season with a shoulder injury, and a chest injury clearly diminished him in a few games before that.

Cook is in line for a contract extension this offseason, and the Vikings have a big decision to make on one of the best running backs in the NFL

Round 3 (No. 70)

OL. Buckeyes . Pat Elflein. 2. player. 812.

CURRENT TEAM: Minnesota Vikings

Pat Elflein brought the ability to play guard with him from college, but he stepped right in as the Vikings’ starting center as a rookie and acquitted himself nicely.

An ankle injury in that year’s NFC Championship Game ended things on a sour note though, and along with offseason shoulder surgery Elflein struggled to the tune of Pro Football Focus grading him out as the league’s worst starting center for the 2018 season. Then, with the drafting of Garret Bradbury in the first round last year, Elflein was shifted to left guard to ideally fortify that spot.

But he was not good at that position either, as the interior of Minnesota’s offensive line was regularly overmatched against good opposing defensive lines.

It’s worth wondering if Elflein somehow still isn’t fully healthy, but a position switch probably didn’t do him any favors either. For better or worse, he’s unlikely to be supplanted at left guard next season.

Round 4 (No. 109)

878. . DT. Hawkeyes . Jaleel Johnson. 3. player

CURRENT TEAM: Minnesota Vikings

With Shariff Floyd’s future in doubt, the Vikings needed to add some depth along the defensive line in the 2017 draft and picking Johnson made sense.

Jaleel Johnson has played all 16 games in each of the last two seasons, starting a total of four, and in 2019 he set a career-high with 3.5 sacks while playing 37 percent of the Vikings’ defensive snaps. He also plays some on special teams.

Potential is still a prominent word when speaking of Johnson, but the time for him to reach it fully may have passed.

Round 4 (No. 120)

4. player. 811. . LB. Wolverines . Ben Gedeon

CURRENT TEAM: Minnesota Vikings

With Chad Greenway’s retirement and Audie Cole leaving in free agency, the Vikings needed depth at linebacker and took one in the fourth round of the 2017 draft.

Gedeon is a limited athlete and as such is strictly a base defense player. But he was a core special teamer over his first two seasons — playing 82 and 75 percent of Minnesota’s special team snaps respectively — before a concussion limited him to eight games last season.

Gedeon is a quintessential JAG (Just A Guy). But those type of players can find a place on an NFL roster, and the Vikings may keep him past the end of his rookie contract

Round 5 (No. 170) 


Rodney Adams was drafted, cut and added back to the Vikings’ practice squad during his rookie season, appearing in one regular-season game along the way during his lone season in Minnesota.

He signed a futures contract with the Indianapolis Colts in February of 2018, but he suddenly retired in April of that year, with some indication he was going to pursue a modeling career.

Expectations for a fifth-round pick are never high. But the Vikings surely wanted more than one meaningful game with no stats, and Adams retiring from football at 23 years old somehow felt appropriate.

Round 5 (No. 180)

6. player. 834. . OL. Hurricanes . Danny Isidora

CURRENT TEAM: Miami Dolphins

In theory, with a need at one or both guard spots, Danny Isidora had an opportunity in front of him when he was drafted by the Vikings. Even a fairly raw prospect, the competition was not all that stiff.

Isidora played in 21 games over his two seasons for the Vikings, starting three. He was traded last August to the Miami Dolphins for a conditional seventh-round pick in this year’s draft and started three games at right guard this season before landing on IR with a foot injury.

The Vikings have continually failed to invest proper draft capital in the offensive line, and any reliance on Isidora to develop into a starter is a symptom of that. It’s not too surprising he’s already on his second team.

Round 6 (No. 201)

Hokies . Bucky Hodges. 7. player. 847. . TE


An intriguing athlete (6-foot-6, 257 pounds), and a converted quarterback who was still learning the tight end position, Bucky Hodges was a worthy sixth-round flier for the Vikings. He wore #84, as a sure sign of his overconfidence in personal comparison to Randy Moss.

Pro Football Reference’s transaction log filled up quickly for Hodges. He was waived, placed on IR, waived again and cut before mid-September of 2017, and he then landed on the Carolina Panthers’ practice squad until Halloween.

The New York Jets signed Hodges in April of 2018, but they cut him near the start of training camp. He eventually landed on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ practice squad and went back to them on a futures contract in January of 2019. But Pittsburgh cut him in April, and the Jets picked him back up and cut him by early October.

Hodges has yet to play a regular-season NFL snap, and it looks like he never will. Maybe he’ll land in the XFL.

Round 6 (No. 219)

834. . WR. Hurricanes . Stacy Coley. 8. player

CURRENT TEAM: Tampa Bay Vipers (XFL)

Stacy Coley ran a 4.45-second 40 at the NFL Combine, so he brought that speed with him as an early candidate to replace Cordarrelle Patterson as Minnesota’s primary kickoff returner.

Coley played seven games for the Vikings before being waived in September of 2018. He played three more games that season for the New York Giants after they picked him up, then the New York Jets signed him a reserve/futures contract in January of 2019 before waiving him in May.

Coley was taken by the Dallas Renegades in the XFL Draft, and he’s now on the roster of the Tampa Bay Vipers in the rebooted spring league. Maybe he’ll play well and will gain interest from the NFL.

Round 7 (No. 220)

. DE. Wildcats . Ifeadi Odenigbo. 9. player. 882

CURRENT TEAM: Minnesota Vikings

Ifeadi Odenigbo did not crack the Vikings’ roster as a rookie or second-year man, and he spent time with the Cleveland Browns and Arizona Cardinals (one regular-season game) during the 2018 season.

The Vikings signed Odenigbo back to the practice squad in October of 2018 and kept him on a futures contract. To say it paid off this season is an understatement.

Odenigbo made the team and played in all 16 games this season, with seven sacks and 13 quarterbacks while playing 34 percent of the defensive snaps. With Everson Griffen likely gone this offseason, Odenigno is in line for a bigger role next season.

General manager Rick Spielman’s laughable propensity to trade down and accumulate more draft picks rarely bears fruit. Getting Odenigbo with a seventh-round pick and now being able to see if he has more in him, even if it became a circuitous route to having him, can be marked as a win for a 2017 draft class that needs them desperately.

Round 7 (No. 232)

Elijah Lee. 10. player. 823. . LB. Wildcats

CURRENT TEAM: San Francisco 49ers

An undersized but speedy linebacker, Elijah Lee didn’t make it to Week 1 of 2017 with the Vikings. The 49ers signed him, he immediately became a prominent special teamer for them and he made five starts at middle linebacker in 2018. He didn’t play as much this past season, but he was on the team representing the NFC in the Super Bowl.

Getting anything of note from a seventh-round pick is a bonus. But the Vikings were not the team that has gotten what Lee had to offer.

Round 7 (No. 240)


Jack Tocho did the back-and-forth on-and-off the practice squad dance with the Vikings for a season-plus, before being signed by Washington, cut by them and then signed and cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers last spring.

The Vikings’ 2017 rookie class is somewhat salvaged by finding linebacker Eric Wilson as an undrafted free agent. He has become a contributor, usurping Gedeon in the linebacker pecking order.

Retrospective Grade

C-. . . Minnesota Vikings. 2020 RETROSPECTIVE GRADE

Bottom Line:

Outside of Dalvin Cook, the Vikings’ 2017 rookie class is somewhat salvaged by finding linebacker Eric Wilson as an undrafted free agent. He has become a contributor, usurping Gedeon in the linebacker pecking order.

by Brad Berreman

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