Vikings make big splash with three first-round picks in NFL draft
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - A busy first round for the Minnesota Vikings got even busier at a moment's notice.
Five minutes after Rick Spielman stepped to the podium and started to talk about Florida defensive tackle Shariff Floyd and Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes, the Vikings GM was sprinting back to the team's draft room to complete another deal. Moments later, the Vikings were on the clock again, landing Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson in a Thursday night binge that addressed needs at three of the team's thinnest positions.
"Sorry about that," Spielman said to a group of reporters he left in the lurch with a chuckle.
The Vikings grabbed Floyd with the 23rd pick, Rhodes with the 25th and then gave up second, third, fourth and seventh round picks to New England to get back into the first round and take Patterson at No. 29, capping a dizzying 30-minutes at the end of the first night of the draft.The Vikings entered the draft coming off a surprising playoff run last year and with major needs in the secondary, at receiver, linebacker and defensive tackle. They managed address three of those needs.
Floyd had 13 tackles for loss and 6½ sacks for the Gators as a junior last season. He was initially projected to go in the top 10 of the first round, but tumbled to No. 23. The Vikings have a history of taking Gators who tumbled after scoring big with receiver Percy Harvin in 2009.
With Kevin Williams aging and younger players like LeTroy Guion and Christian Ballard still relatively unproven, the Vikings jumped at the chance to stop Floyd's slide down the board.
"I went through 1,000 scenarios at the 23rd and 25th pick and honestly he was not in those scenarios," Spielman said.
After taking the big defensive tackle, the Vikings then went for a big cornerback in Rhodes to help them against some of the big receivers in the NFC North like Detroit's Calvin Johnson and Chicago's Brandon Marshall. He had four interceptions and 12 pass breakups as a junior last season and will help atone for the loss of trusted veteran Antoine Winfield, who signed with Seattle after being released due to salary cap concerns.
Then came the biggest move the night, when the Vikings paid a hefty to price to jump back into the first round for Patterson, a raw receiver with only one season of major college experience. He was a junior college transfer at Tennessee, but his ability to make plays after the catch and in the return game proved too much for the Vikings to pass up.
"We were very, very aggressive to go do that because I know what he can do as a receiver, but especially what he can do as a potential punt and kickoff returner," Spielman said. "Because he is magic in that area as well."
Patterson had 46 catches for 778 yards and five touchdowns last year and said he feels a sense of responsibility to the Vikings after they gave up so much to draft him.