6 bold predictions for the Vikings in the 2022 NFL Draft

(Photo by Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports) Jameson Williams
(Photo by Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports) Jameson Williams /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Kwesi Adofo-Mensah /

Minnesota will target more athletic prospects

One of the most exciting aspects of this year’s draft is a new strategy for the front office. The final years of the Spielman era produced little in terms of impact players and a recent study by Twitter user Felix Zurek gave us an idea why.

Zurek charted the age and relative athletic score (RAS) of each team’s draft picks since 2017. The study found that Spielman targeted advanced age players that had the lowest RAS across the entire NFL.

Why did this happen? Because the Vikings were desperate to make the playoffs after making it to the NFC Championship Game in 2017. By taking an older player, the Vikings believed that they would be ready to contribute right away – even if their upside wasn’t the same as younger players.

The results were disastrous. In 2018, the Vikings selected Mike Hughes, who had a 7.75 RAS. In 2019, they took Garrett Bradbury, who owned a 9.95 RAS but was also 24 at the time. The Vikings redeemed themselves by taking Justin Jefferson in 2020 but followed that up by taking 24-year-old Jeff Gladney, who had a RAS of 6.07.

By the time they took Christian Darrisaw, who did not test due to injury, the writing was on the wall.

There’s a good chance we’ll see something different with this regime. Adofo-Mensah’s previous stops with the San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns featured teams that drafted players with the highest average RAS since 2017. His most recent stop in Cleveland was also noted as taking the youngest players during that time frame.

This is not to say that the Vikings will shift to drafting hyper-athletic 20-year-olds. But it’s a guideline to keep in mind as we make our predictions.