Player No. 1
Mark Andrews - TE (Baltimore Ravens)
In 2017, Minnesota went 13-3 and defeated New Orleans in the Minneapolis Miracle before succumbing to the Philadelphia Eagles, 38-7, in the NFC Championship game. The season came out of nowhere as the Vikings went 8-8 the previous year.
Minnesota’s final team stats for the ‘17 season was 10th overall in offense and first overall in defense for points allowed. In the offseason, the franchise jettisoned the three headed hydra of Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford, and Case Keenum and signed former Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Cousins inherited Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, and Kyle Rudolph. Cousins was brought in to give the QB position more stability and help improve the Vikings offense. Still, it was a tad confusing on why the organization selected cornerback Mike Hughes from Central Florida with the 30th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Hughes was a standout for the Knights for one season in 2017 before forgoing his final year to enter the draft. He was a talented corner and even returned a pick-six in his first game with the Vikes. However, Hughes tore his ACL in Week 6 and was lost for the remainder of the year.
In the next two years, Hughes started only five combined games and Minnesota let him walk after 2020.
Meanwhile, when the Vikes selected Hughes in 2018, Oklahoma tight end Mark Andrews was still on the board. After his senior year for the Sooners, Andrews was voted the best tight end in the nation when he received the John Mackey Award. He was also a first-team All-American and All-Big 12.
It’s safe to say that Minnesota could have benefited greatly from the addition of Andrews. At the time, Rudolph was entering his eighth year. Minnesota was already thinking of tight end anyway when they took Tyler Conklin in the fifth round.
Conklin’s best season with Minnesota was in 2021 when he started 15 games and had 61 receptions. He is now a member of the New York Jets.
On the other hand, Andrews has emerged as one of the best tight ends in football. During his second year, Andrews caught 10 touchdown passes for Baltimore, and in 2021, he snagged 107 passes. Andrews has been voted to three Pro Bowls and been selected as an All-Pro once.