MINNEAPOLIS -- Somehow, we're still six weeks away from the NFL draft, which kicks off on May 8 in New York, but while the Minnesota Vikings are still busy making preparations for general manager Rick Spielman's eighth draft in Minnesota, we thought it would be a good time to look back at how the Vikings fared in his first seven.
So this morning, we're kicking off a day-by-day review of the Vikings' 2007-13 drafts. We'll review how each one turned out for the Vikings, look back at a pivotal pick, and attempt to take a rough measurement of how the team stacked up against the rest of the league, with the help of Pro Football Reference's Approximate Value statistic. The metric gives a general idea of how productive a player has been, based on his years as a regular starter, Pro Bowl selections and statistics. In this case, we'll be using the Draft AV, which measures what a player did for the team that originally drafted him. It's far from a perfect assessment of the situation, but it will give us some sense of how the Vikings have done.
Without further ado, we'll begin our series with a look at the 2007 draft:
Vikings' first-round pick: No. 7 (Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma)
Number of picks: 8
Total Draft AV: 131 (5th in NFL; San Francisco was best with a 232 AV)
Highest player AV: Peterson, 77 (2nd; San Francisco's Patrick Willis was best with an 89 AV)
How they did: The Vikings' first draft under Spielman will be forever defined by their first pick; Peterson will go down as the greatest running back in franchise history, and one of the best of all time. The fact that Chester Taylor had run for more than 1,200 yards the year before made the Peterson pick seem a bit superfluous at the time, but when injury concerns kept the former Heisman Trophy runner-up on the board until the Vikings picked, they knew they had a rare opportunity. It was an early victory for Spielman's best-player-available strategy, and Peterson remains the team's franchise player as he heads into his eighth season.
Pivotal pick: When they were on the clock in the second round with the 44th overall pick, the Vikings had the option to take either South Carolina receiver Sidney Rice or USC receiver Dwayne Jarrett, who had had the more decorated college career but had also played in an offense designed to produce big numbers, and had raised concern by skipping the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine. Jarrett eventually ran a 4.62 at USC's pro day, and after being projected as a first-round pick, he was still there for the Vikings in the second round. They instead took Rice, who has been injury-prone, but had a Pro Bowl 2009 season with Brett Favre. Jarrett played 32 NFL games, caught 35 passes and has been out of the league since 2010.
Best pick: Peterson is the obvious choice, but for sheer value, we have to go with fourth-rounder Brian Robison, who became a starter in 2011 after four seasons as a rotational player and earned a four-year contract extension in the middle of last season. Robison had the best season of his career in 2013, and has seen his sack totals increase each year he's been a starter.
Worst pick: In need of a cornerback after allowing the second-most passing yards in the league the previous season, the Vikings used their third-rounder on Fresno State's Marcus McCauley, who was gone after two seasons and out of the league after three. McCauley stepped in for an injured Antoine Winfield late in his rookie year, and got burned in a pivotal Sunday night game against the Washington Redskins in December. He is currently playing in the United Football League.