The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports Columns

May 1, 2013

Rueda: Sun shines on Vikings' draft

This was going to be a column about the weather and the continual disruption of spring sports in the area, but as I look out the window at large flakes of snow falling to the ground, it’s just too depressing to write about.

Instead, I’ll give my two cents on the Vikings’ draft, which ended Saturday. The main question people seem to be asking is: Did the Vikings give up too much to get a third first-round pick to select wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson from Tennessee?

On paper, the answer to that question is most likely yes. How long it takes for Patterson to become a significant contributor to the offense/special teams and how big an impact he ends up having will determine if the price paid was too high or if he was a bargain.

Patterson certainly looks like a player with plenty of raw talent and a tremendous amount of upside. Even if he contributes only on special teams and is little more than a decoy at receiver in his first year, he should still make the offense better.

The real steal in the this year’s draft, however, was getting defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd of Florida with the 23rd overall pick. The 6-foot-2, 297-pound lineman was projected to go as high as pick No. 3 by many “draft experts.” Most had him in the top 10 and virtually all of them had him gone by pick 15.

He’s strong, he’s fast and he has the ability to play anywhere on the defensive front. With Minnesota getting older on the D-line, Floyd was a great choice.

Two picks later, Minnesota selected cornerback Xavier Rhodes from Florida State. The 6-1, 210-pounder was projected to go somewhere between the 15th to 25th pick so the Vikings did well to get him where they did.

Rhodes is tall for a cornerback, plays physical and is considered a great leaper. The Vikings’ secondary has been under siege the last few years so he’ll be a welcome addition.

After Patterson was selected four picks later, Minnesota didn’t pick again until the fourth round. Although the best-player-available philosophy was paramount the rest of the way, the team was able to draft for need as well.

Linebackers Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti of Penn State; guards Jeff Baca of UCLA and Travis Bond of North Carolina; defensive tackle Everett Dawkins of Florida State and punter Jeff Locke from UCLA were added to the roster.

While the fifth round might seem early for a punter, Locke was a nice selection. He is considered the best of the class of 2013, and there’s no doubt incumbent Chris Kluwe took a step backward last season.

With the three picks in the first round, there’s a good chance the Vikings’ 2013 draft will be viewed, at the very least, as a strong one. If either Hodges or Mauti pans out at linebacker, the potential is there for the critics to judge it much higher.

Jim Rueda is the Free Press sports editor. To contact him, call 344-6381 or

email him at jrueda@mankatofreepress.com.

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