Heading into Thursday’s NFL draft, the Minnesota Vikings will be looking to upgrade a flawed offensive line. Players like Isaiah Wynn and Connor Williams would fill an immediate need in the first round while bringing stability for the future. But the team has other needs in the not-so-distant future that could also bring immediate results.
Enter South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert, a redshirt senior who brings great size (6’5″, 256 pounds) and production (2,404 yards receiving in his final two seasons) to the next level. While the Vikings have been happy with veteran Kyle Rudolph, pulling the trigger on a tight end in the early rounds is still in the realm of possibility.
Getting Dallas Goedert Would Amplify the Minnesota Vikings Offense
Goedert has the tools to fit right into an offense that will be tailored around new quarterback Kirk Cousins. New offensive coordinator John DeFilippo learned in Philadelphia that there is no such thing as having too many weapons. While the selection of Goedert may confuse fans on the surface, it has the chance to pay dividends.
Cousins Loves His Tight Ends
While in Washington, Cousins spread the wealth among all of his targets. At tight end, he consistently found veteran Vernon Davis and talented young pass-catcher Jordan Reed, and not only as safety nets. Battling injuries in 2016, Reed played in 12 games, catching 66 passes and six touchdowns. Davis had 59 passes thrown his way that season, bringing 44 in for 583 yards and two scores in 16 games. Either stat line would be healthy for a stand-alone tight end, which shows that Cousins doesn’t discriminate if a guy can get open.
Despite Rudolph snagging 57 receptions in 2017 for 532 yards and eight touchdowns, there wasn’t much production behind him on the depth chart. This is noteworthy because the Vikings used role players David Morgan and Blake Bell often in heavy offensive sets. The two combined for only 13 catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. This minimal production provided no threat to opposing defenses. In the Football Championship Subdivision, Goedert was the center of attention, fighting past multiple defenders to get downfield. In Minnesota, Goedert would have many favorable match-ups on an offense featuring Rudolph, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook.
DeFilippo Brings a Tight End-Friendly Offense to Minnesota
DeFilippo spent the past two seasons as the quarterbacks coach for the Philadelphia Eagles, so he will likely bring their tight end-heavy principles with him. Zach Ertz was targeted 110 times for 74 catches, 824 yards, and eight touchdowns. Behind him, Trey Burton still found 23 passes for a respectable 248 yards and five touchdowns. Even third string tight end Brent Celek added 13 receptions for 130 yards and a score. In other words, everyone was getting their share.
This offense is a perfect marriage with Cousins, which means it shapes up to be an ideal situation for Goedert. He can be used as a pass catcher and can stretch the field, forcing defenses to account for another playmaker.
Rudolph Isn’t Getting Any Younger
Rudolph, the longtime reliable tight end, will be turning 29 in November. While that doesn’t mean the end is near, the Vikings could begin to look for a long-term replacement.
While being the Vikings all-time leader in touchdown receptions (37) among tight ends, Rudolph has a somewhat limited game. He isn’t a mauler in the running attack. Plus, unlike the league’s elite tight ends, Rudolph doesn’t have the skill set that makes him a match-up nightmare through the air. He has great hands and a feel for getting open, but lacks top-end speed and isn’t a threat after making the catch.
Goedert brings a big, fast, explosive threat to burn defenses downfield. With his size, he can shield off defenders down the seam. His ability to adjust to off-target passes (one-handed and over-the-shoulder catches) is special for a player his size. A year behind Rudolph could prime him to take over the starting spot in 2019 as the Vikings continue into the second year of the Cousins era.
So Where Would the Vikings Make a Move on Goedert?
While Goedert’s accomplishments and production in college are impossible to ignore, he did it against lower competition. This will likely make teams think a little harder before making a move on him at the top of the draft. That said, however, his measurables will be coveted by many as the draft wears on. He’s been projected anywhere from the middle of the first round to as late as the end of the second round. If he is on the board when the Vikings pick at 30, they could pull the trigger there.
However, general manager Rick Spielman likes to accumulate at least 10 draft picks when all is said and done, so the team could elect to trade down into the second round, draft Goedert, and possibly get back the fourth-round pick they lost in the Sam Bradford trade. It may not be the expected move, but it could take an already-dangerous offense to the next level.
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