|Photo: Boise State Athletics|
After trading back four times in the third-round, the Vikings finally made a selection at No. 102. Daniel House details the addition of Boise State running back Alexander Mattison.
After trading back four times in the third-round, the Vikings finally made a selection at No. 102. They decided to add offensive players with their first three picks for the first time since 1993. This time, it was about adding depth in the backfield.
Boise State running back Alexander Mattison gained momentum in the draft community after a strong Pro Day. A power back, Mattison won the Mountain West rushing title, piling up 1,415 yards and 17 touchdowns. His yardage total ranked eighth nationally among college running backs. He didn’t gain much pre-draft buzz, but the Vikings coaches and staff were drawn to him.
“Mattison is a big back that is very productive, can catch the ball very well out of the backfield,” General Manager Rick Spielman said after the pick. “I know when we went through our meetings, our scouts and our coaches felt very strongly about him and what he can bring to this team.”
After losing veteran running back Latavius Murray in free agency, the Vikings were searching for a powerful change of pace rusher. At 5-foot-10, 221 pounds, Mattison had the versatility and power traits Minnesota wanted to add in this draft class. After running backs started to fly off the board in round three, the war room knew they had to take Mattison before the end of day two. Many of his skills mirrored the style of back they were trying to replace.
“We wanted something that was similar to a Murray-type and we felt that Alexander can definitely do that,” Spielman said. “I think his in-line vision [stood out]. I know his ability to go forward on contact a lot like Latavius did for us, I know his ability to catch the ball, I know his ability in pass protection, and I know we have to have multiple backs in this offense.”
Mattison is prepared to handle more physical running, including goal-line touches in Minnesota. This type of style is something that helped him pile up numbers at Boise State. Mattison had back-to-back 200-yard rushing performances to end his final season with the Broncos.
“I love it. All last season I played with the mind set of playing fast and physical. That’s the first thing you’ll hear come out of my mouth after any game is if I played fast and physical or not,” Mattison said after the selection. “That’s the kind of style I look to play and hopefully can come and bring that there.”
After moving back four times, the Vikings now have nine draft picks for Saturday. It’s provided them with plenty of currency to move up and down the board during day three. Spielman said they have many players still sitting on their board in a very deep class.
“It should be a very active day tomorrow. By having all of [these picks], we’re going to have a lot of draft picks and draft currency to pretty much move up and down any way we want to go,” Spielman said. “We can move up in the fourth, up in the fifth, down, so we’ll see how it all unfolds, but I do know we have a lot of good football players on our board and a lot of players that can come in and help our football team.”
Spielman on the addition of Irv Smith Jr.: “That type of tight end we haven’t had here and I know that’s a very big part of Gary Kubiak and Kevin Stefanski offense right now. No one put him there yet, but he has a lot of Reed-type traits in Washington and that’s why he was very appealing to us.”
Is Kyle Rudolph’s role going to change with this decision? Spielman: “No, Kyle Rudolph is here. Two different styles. What Kyle does and what Irv can do, so just two totally two different types of tight ends.”
Spielman said several of the Vikings young defenders have made tremendous progress: “I think there was some defensive players there, but I also know we have some young guys that we took last year that we’re very excited to see and the progress they’ve made. I know Jalyn Holmes has had a tremendous offseason. I think he’s up to 300 pounds right now. We feel very confident about the guys we have. Since Ifeadi came back, he’s totally changed his body and what he has done, so we have a lot of guys – I think it’s going to be a very competitive roster on the defense. I think tomorrow we’ll be able to even add some more on the defensive side with what our board looks like right now.”
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