2018 Draft Class
With only eight total selections, Minnesota’s 2018 draft class was small compared to some of Rick Spielman’s more recent classes. Fresh off of their best season since 2009, expectations were high in Minnesota, and this class plays a part in why the Vikings fell off soon after.
Mike Hughes was famously taken two picks before unanimous MVP Lamar Jackson and largely disappointed in Minnesota. After a pick-six in his first career game, Hughes battled a multitude of injuries over his three seasons in purple before being traded to Kansas City last offseason.
It’s hard to be upset at the Hughes selection, as the Vikings did end up needing cornerbacks, and you can never predict injuries. Unfortunately, it did not work out, and that will always weigh on the 2018 class.
On the bright side, 2018 brought the lone bright spot over the last few years along the Minnesota offensive line in Brian O’Neill. Selected at pick No. 62, O’Neill was regarded as a “project,” an incredible athlete but not ready for NFL defensive lines just yet.
Instead, O’Neill was forced into the lineup early, played 800 snaps as a rookie, and allowed zero sacks. Through four years, he has still only allowed six total sacks per PFF and was named to the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement.
While Jalyn Holmes never made much of an impact as a fourth-round pick, Tyler Conklin has been worth the fifth-round selection he was taken with. 2021 saw him forced into a role as a starter and he likely earned himself a solid payday this offseason.
The only other selection of note from the 2018 class was kicker Daniel Carlson, who is one of the best kickers in the NFL. The only problem is he has been nails as a Las Vegas Raider, not a Minnesota Viking. He was mistakenly cut after two games due to missing a couple of kicks at Lambeau Field in 2018 in a game that ended in a tie.
So while Carlson has amounted to a top kicker in the league, the Vikings get no credit for that. In fact, it should probably count as a negative for this draft class.
O’Neill single-handedly carries this class, and at this point, next year could easily see the 2021 class leapfrog this one.