Diamond in the rough.
That’s the usual sayings when it comes to describing promising later round selections in the NFL Draft.
For the Minnesota Vikings, late round selections and their success could mean the difference between another disappointing season or the team finding a way back to the playoffs.
It all started with picking Samia in the fourth round.
A sometimes overly-aggressive guard from Oklahoma, Samia was a part of an Oklahoma offensive line that was one of the nation’s best in college football last season.
The Vikings had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL last year, and getting Samia in the fourth certainly helped at least from a depth standpoint.
Although the team picked Garrett Bradbury with the 18th overall selection, the Vikings should also count on getting quality production from Samia after he cleans up some technique issues in the preseason and training camp.
If Samia can harness his aggression and use it in the right way along with learning proper technique, he could be a quality offensive lineman for the Vikings for years to come.
The Vikings selected linebacker Cameron Smith from USC in the fifth round. Smith was a four-year starter and leader for the Trojans who finished with 81 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, and one sack in only nine games in his senior season.
Although Smith is not the most athletic specimen to come out of the draft in recent memory, he will provide the Vikings with solid depth, and quality special teams production. Smith could develop into being a starter for the Vikings in the next couple of years, but the Vikings will love his tackling ability.
Plus, Mike Zimmer has stated from the beginning that he sees Eric Kendricks as more of a “Will” linebacker anyway. It could be only a matter of time before Smith takes the Mike position.
The sixth round offered three draft picks, but none more promising than DT Armon Watts from Arkansas.
Losing Sheldon Richardson to the Browns in free agency was a big loss for the purpose. Enter in Watts.
Watts was a one-year starter for Arkansas where he recorded seven sacks in his senior year. Although he didn’t see much action in his first three years, Watts will provide the Vikings with a quality pass rusher in sub packages and could develop into a quality starter down the road.
Kris Boyd, a seventh-round selection out of Texas could prove to be a steal. Although Boyd’s got some work to do as far as technique, he’s got great speed and is as aggressive as just about anyone.
Working with Mike Zimmer will give Boyd a great advantage of working with one of the best defensive back coaches in the NFL.
Possible Steal of the Draft?
It’s may not seem like it, but Dillon Mitchell could be a steal for the Vikings in the seventh round.
Mitchell played three years at Oregon where he broke the Duck’s single-season receiving record (1184 yards) and scored 10 touchdowns in 2019.
Mitchell ran a 4.46 at the combine in the 40-yard dash and could provide the Vikings with a quality slot receiver that can produce quality numbers.
There’s just one problem. Mitchell will be behind superstars Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.
While Thielen and Diggs will call for the ball often, Mitchell could be a quality third receiver for Minnesota.
Mitchell’s obviously not perfect. His hands and work ethic and hands were in question at the combine, and he only had one season in which he put up decent numbers in college.
If Mitchell can fix his hands and with the help of Thielen and Diggs, he could be a great player for the Vikings for years to come.
The Vikings were a team that wasn’t far from the playoffs last year. They were a couple offensive lineman away and a quality third receiver away from going to the playoffs last year.
If these later round selections can live up to the hype, the Vikings could find themselves back in the playoffs in 2019.