Vikings coach Mike Zimmer had a solid, if under-the-radar free agency in 2016. The signing of former Bengals offensive tackle Andre Smith solidified a push by the team to get better up front in a hurry.
It also revealed a trait Zimmer seems to like in his free-agent acquisitions.
"I like having first-round draft picks that leave other places," Zimmer said, via 1500 ESPN in Minnesota. "Because they have pedigrees."
Zimmer also signed Michael Griffin, formerly the No. 19 overall pick by the Titans in the 2007 draft, in free agency this year.
Of course there is a difference between Zimmer's plan and those who just gobble up any first-rounder. Some flame out so quickly that their acquisitions are looked at more like reclamation projects (Trent Richardson). Zimmer added a two-time Pro Bowler in Griffin and a player in Smith who at least deserved one nod but didn't get it.
These players are also coming from franchises that haven't had any postseason success of late. The Titans haven't made the playoffs since Griffin's second year in the NFL, way back in 2008. The Bengals have made it each of the last five years, losing in the wild-card round every time. Perhaps that is the real reason he likes these guys. Not only are they first-round picks, but they are hungry first-round picks. And for a coach with a team on the verge of making the leap, that makes all the difference.