10 biggest NFL Draft steals for the Vikings over the past 10 years

(Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images) Stefon Diggs
(Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images) Stefon Diggs /
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(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Stephen Weatherly
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Stephen Weatherly /

9. Stephen Weatherly – DE

Seventh Round, 2016

Stephen Weatherly was drafted by the Vikings in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft with little expectations.

Many draft gurus had him projected in the sixth to seventh-round range, so when Minnesota pulled the trigger on this raw, big-bodied pass rusher, most people just nodded their heads in agreement that it was a decent pick for a seventh-round flier. Well, so far this seventh-round story has turned into a pretty happy ending.

Weatherly was released by the Vikings at the end of his rookie preseason, only to be brought back to the practice squad. He hung out there for the first 11 weeks of the season before being brought up to the active roster. Since then, he hasn’t looked back.

He has been a very important part of Minnesota’s defensive line and he really came onto the scene this past season to fill in for Everson Griffen during his absence. Weatherly was consistently in opposing offensive backfields in 2018 and he even managed to rack up three sacks.

He has more than proven he can be a starter in the NFL and at the young age of 24-years-old, he will continue to develop and he could even be the eventual replacement for Griffen on the Vikings’ starting defensive line.

8. Jayron Kearse – S

Seventh Round, 2016

Go look up some old Kearse draft profiles. You’ll see a quick theme to them. Freakish size (6-foot-4, 205 pounds), gifted athlete, but he just doesn’t wow you on the field.

Who better to take on a raw defensive back than Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer? During his time with the Vikings, we have watched Kearse go from a bubble player to a special teams demon who has proven he can also contribute on the defense when called upon.

With guys like Harrison Smith and the emergence of Anthony Harris, it will be tough for him to get a ton of playing time in 2019. But Kearse offers insurance at the position and he can come in on certain packages and hold his own. It’s not too far fetched to think that he could start on a handful of current NFL teams right now.