I still remember my head slumping over in disgust during the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft as the Minnesota Vikings made Adrian Peterson the seventh overall selection. More than a decade and 11,747 regular season Viking rushing yards later, I still shake my head at Minnesota’s first round luck when Peterson very well could have been selected in the top three picks if not for a freak collarbone injury.
Peterson is just one of a number of first round draft prospects that have unexpectedly dropped to the Vikings over the past 11 years. A few impact players such as Anthony Barr, Sharrif Floyd (prior to injury), Eric Kendricks, and even Dalvin Cook have been first day talents that have slipped from where they were initially projected to the Vikings in rounds one and two. Give Minnesota credit, it has also traded up to acquire talent (Harrison Smith, 2012) or found third-day jewels (Everson Griffen, 2010 fourth round; Stefan Diggs, 2015 fifth round) in this timeframe. Value picks have been routine for the Vikings in the early rounds and, with a few exceptions, they have hit home runs.
On the flip side, Green Bay landed one of the most popular draft day sliders of all time in Aaron Rodgers to even out many years of divisional luck. If history is any indication, there could be a few more high-ceiling players that fall into the laps of NFC North foes this Thursday night. Here are a few of those more dreaded scenarios.
Minnesota Vikings - Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa
Picking at number 30 in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Vikings will be on the clock much later than they have been in the past. I almost went with Mike McGlinchey here, as my top tackle on the board could potentially slip into the latter half of the first round depending on positional runs. In that case, Minnesota would be fortunate to add an immediate starting-caliber tackle at a less-than-premium pick.
Instead, I am going with Joshua Jackson, a one-year wonder with tremendous upside who could become an impact starter alongside Xavier Rhodes. I personally do not think Jackson would fall to 30th overall, but after watching a recent mock draft special from Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr., there is a path for the Vikings to land Jackson like they did on the show. Jackson was the Hawkeyes’ ballhawk, pun intended, last season as the former wide receiver posted eight interceptions and 27 passes defended. The ball skills and length are there for Jackson to become a quality NFL corner and late in the first round, he could eventually prove to be a major steal. Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander have been inconsistent early round picks and Jackson would have the potential to earn snaps quickly with Terence Newman still unsigned.
Chicago Bears - Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
Picking Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson eighth overall might be a downer in itself for Packers fans, as he would bolster an offensive line that allowed five sacks to Green Bay defenders last November. Described by some as a potential Hall of Famer without flaws, Nelson could realistically drop to Chicago based on positional value, not talent.
For the purposes of this article, I’m going with Chubb. It’s probable that four quarterbacks could make up the first seven picks. If three teams value Saquon Barkley, Roquan Smith, and any one of the trio of secondary players earmarked for the top ten, Chubb could very well fall. Unrealistic as it may sound because of his talent at a position of relative weakness in this draft, Chubb would be a possible day one edge rush starter on the side opposite Leonard Floyd. The Bears are beginning to add a nice blend of talent on the back end of their defense, but the pass rush could stand to be improved. Chubb would give Rodgers and the Packers’ offensive line nightmares for many moons.
Detroit Lions - Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UT-San Antonio
A descending Da’Ron Payne would be a little bit of a surprise to me here and help create a formidable Lions interior line. Detroit drafted one Alabama defensive tackle in A’Shawn Robinson two years ago and added a run-stuffer in Sylvester Williams this offseason. I could see a lot of comparisons between Robinson, Williams, and Payne in Detroit and Minnesota’s former dynamic duo of Kevin and Pat Williams. The unit would blend a strong run defense with a more than occasional pass rush.
For me, Marcus Davenport of UT-San Antonio would hold the most game-changing card here, however. Pick 20 might be well-within the draft range for Davenport, but falling past a Packers organization looking for pass rushers would be a storyline to watch for years to come. Davenport has been compared to current Lion Ezekiel Ansah more than once and could be another high-risk, high-reward pass rusher that parlays his freak size and athleticism into NFL production. The Lions remain a consistent playoff contender, but need to pressure the quarterback more frequently. If Davenport pans out, he could be that missing piece.