Minnesota Vikings 2017 NFL Draft Grades and Review

0
745
Oct 3, 2015; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies tight end Bucky Hodges (7) runs the ball after a catch against Pittsburgh Panthers defensive back Dennis Briggs (20) during the second quarter at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 3, 2015; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies tight end Bucky Hodges (7) runs the ball after a catch against Pittsburgh Panthers defensive back Dennis Briggs (20) during the second quarter at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2017 NFL Draft officially in the books, the Minnesota Vikings turn their attention to OTA’s and getting ready for the training camp when it opens in July. Until then, the next set of days and weeks will be spent analyzing each of the new draftees and how to best utilize them starting out.

Despite not having a first round pick, the Vikings still managed to come away with a strong and talented draft class. In a draft that many believed to be critical to the team’s fortunes in returning to contention for the division crown in 2017, the Vikings came out with 11 rookies who will have various degrees of impact on just how much better or worse this team can get going forward.

With the new class established, the Vikings’ crew of cover32 took the opportunity to evaluate and grade each of the Vikings’ draft selections.


AROUND COVER32

2017 NFL Draft: Taking a look at the boldest moves of last week’s NFL Draft

Around the NFL: Comparing the trade for Jay Cutler to the one made for Mitch Trubisky

What’s Trending: Steelers are ready for Myles Garrett following his comments

Vikes’ Bite:  Spielman at it again as Vikings trade up to draft sliding Cook at 41st overall

Purple Update: Vikings make another big splash; draft Ohio State C/OG, Pat Elflein, 70th overall

Vikings’ Weekly:  Recapping the Minnesota Vikings’ 2017 NFL Free Agency signings


Round Two (41st Overall):  Dalvin Cook, RB — Florida State

Clayton Brooks  Arguably the most talented back in this class. Vikings made the right call to trade up for him when he fell into the second round.

Grade: A+

Miles Dittberner — Rick Spielman made yet another bold move come the draft, trading up to select Cook, who many analysts and experts had viewed as the best running back in the draft. Despite signing Latavius Murray during free agency, Cook is a huge upgrade at the running back position that the Vikings needed to fill the vacuum left by Adrian Peterson after declining to pick up his option. Cook very might well end up being the steal of the draft and gives Minnesota a first round talent for a second round pick.

Grade: A+

Justin Ekstrom — Although it was a splashy move and Cook is a perfect fit for the Vikings, trading up to get a guy that has troubles with the law, makes everything the organization says about getting quality characters a moot point.

Grade: B+

Austin Erwin — Minnesota managed to make a huge splash on day two of the NFL Draft. Dalvin Cook is the one of the most talented backs in his class with excellent vision and the ability to set up huge runs. Add that with a dynamic combination of speed and power, Cook’s explosive attributes are set to revitalize Minnesota’s offense.

Grade: A+

Round Three (70th Overall):  Pat Elflein, C/OG — Ohio State

Clayton Brooks  Another player many rated at the top of his position. Versatile. Experience playing both guard and center. Excellent find.

Grade: A

Miles Dittberner — Again the Vikings traded up and again they made the most of their pick. They got a second round caliber center in Elflein at a great value in the third round. Elflein improves an offensive line that was vastly in need of help after being one of the NFL’s worst performing groups last season. Elflein has the talent to be an opening day starter and can contribute immediately as either a center or guard.

Grade: A+

Justin Ekstrom — Finally a versatile offensive lineman the Vikings should be able to plug into the maligned unit immediately.

Grade: A

Austin Erwin — The Vikings trusted the depth on their board and came away with one of the better interior offensive line prospects in this year’s draft. Pat Elflein can provide capable, quality play at both center and guard with excellent pass protection and the ability to create holes for the run game. At the end of the day, Elflein is a great addition to a revamped Vikings offensive line.

Grade: A

Round Four (109th Overall):  Jaleel Johnson, DT — Iowa

Clayton Brooks  Another player with some versatility. Can play both the nose and three-technique. Could challenge early for reps at the latter if Sharrif Floyd is still down.

Grade: A

Miles Dittberner — The Vikings continued their trend of finding great value in the draft and got a much more talented defensive lineman than his fourth round tender suggests in Johnson, who put together a strong showing at the senior bowl and led the Iowa Hawkeyes with 7.5 sacks last season. He is athletic for a big man and posses an impressive skill set, highlighted by his balance and power. He should fit nicely along the Vikings’ defensive front either backing up nose tackle, Linval Joseph or sliding in next to him at defensive tackle.

Grade: A

Justin Ekstrom — Floyd’s days are numbered if Johnson is allowed in the rotation immediately; his pass-rushing numbers will only get better with reps.

Grade A

Austin Erwin — Jaleel Johnson could be one of the steals of the 2017 NFL Draft. His talent is far better than where he was selected. Johnson enamors with eye-opening strength and pass rushing capability from the inside. He’ll also provide plentiful run support, an area of need for the Vikings defense. Depending on Sharrif Floyd’s rehabilitation, Johnson could very well end up starting early and often. He has an enormously high ceiling.

Grade: A

Round Four (120th Overall):  Ben Gedeon, LB — Michigan

Clayton Brooks — An ok pick. Looks like a solid, two-down linebacker who can play the run but may struggle in coverage.

Grade: C

Miles Dittberner — The Vikings hope to have found a hidden gem in Gedeon. Despite shining at the Senior Bowl, recording a game-high nine tackles along with a forced fumble, many still viewed the Michigan linebacker as merely a backup and special teams performer in the NFL. Gedeon has a lot to prove and is an underrated linebacker that could step-up big for the Vikings at the next level.

Grade: C+

Justin Ekstrom — Not exactly the direction most were thinking to fill the linebacker depth chart; yet, Gedeon could be a diamond in the rough once the team finds where to put him in the rotation.

Grade: B-

Austin Erwin — Ben Gedeon is better than given credit for. While he’ll have to come off the field in sub-packages and passing situations, Gedeon is a solid downhill, gap-filling linebacker. His talents will be used to stop the run.

Grade: B

Round Five (170th Overall):  Rodney Adams, WR — South Florida

Clayton Brooks  Adds another explosive option to both offense and special teams. Will be a likely option to replace Cordarrelle Patterson particularly for kickoff returns.

Grade: B+

Miles Dittberner — Recently, the Vikings have found greater success and production at the wide receiver position from late-round and undrafted selections than they have in the earlier rounds of the draft. Minnesota’s top wideouts last season, Stefon Diggs (fifth round pick) and Adam Thielen (UDFA), both fit this bill. The Vikings hope to have struck paydirt again with Adams, who excelled as both a receiver and kick returner at South Florida and turned heads at the Vikings’ rookie minicamp.

Grade: B-

Justin Ekstrom — Adams seemingly fits the mold to replace Cordarrelle Patterson as a kick returner and his run-after-the-catch ability is remarkable.

Grade: B

Austin Erwin — Rodney Adams is a jack of all trades type of talent. His versatility and effectiveness as both a receiver and a ball carrier can provide a unique gadget for offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. He’ll be able to replace Cordarrelle Patterson as a kick returner as well.

Grade: B

Round Five (180th Overall):  Danny Isidora, OG — Miami

Clayton Brooks  Value pick that is capable of winning a starting job on an o-line that needs upgrades. May struggle versus power rushers, but otherwise solid.

Grade: B

Miles Dittberner — With all the help the Vikings’ need along the offensive line, they can’t be content to merely focus on immediate needs and must look to the future. Isidora gives them greater depth at the guard position and has the potential to develop into a solid contributor down the road. He has good footwork for a big with plus mobility as a pulling guard. With work could very well be a starting guard in the NFL.

Grade: C+

Justin Ekstrom — Isidora is a solid pick, just not a guy that can start immediately along the offensive line. The team could and should have addressed this need earlier or they could have waited for Isidora or someone just as good later.

Grade: C+

Austin Erwin — This pick goes under the radar to the untrained eye. Danny Isidora contains starter traits and has the upside general managers like to see late in the draft. Isidora excels in pass protection, having the ability to adjust to stunts and shield his man. There is room to improve as a run blocker but Rick Spielman has to like the extra offensive line talent he picked up on day three.

Grade: B+

Round Six (201st Overall):  Bucky Hodges, TE — Virginia Tech

Clayton Brooks  Another good find. A little raw in areas but if used right, could make a lethal pairing with Kyle Rudolph.

Grade: B+

Miles Dittberner — Hodges will provide the Vikings with another vertical threat in their passing game, which should help take the pressure off and open up things for Kyle Rudolph. The former quarterback turned tight end has lots of versatility and can line up all across the field, creating mismatches for opposing defenses. Hodges was used more as a receiver than tight end while at Virginia Tech and will have to improve his blocking at the next level. Overall he should make a nice addition to this offense.

Grade: B

Justin Ekstrom — NFL.com has Hodges rated as a third or fourth round pick yet the Vikings get an absolute steal in the sixth. Hodges could be the perfect fit to push Kyle Rudolph to have another great year.

Grade: A

Austin Erwin — Bucky Hodges will be an extraordinary player to work with. The Vikings’ offensive coaching staff should have fun with this guy. Hodges is incredibly raw but exponentially gifted as a pass catcher. With his unique athleticism as a tight end, Minnesota could end up splitting him out and using his talents as a wide receiver. Hodges is a more than capable weapon in the red zone.

Grade: A

Round Seven (219th Overall):  Stacy Coley, WR — Miami

Clayton Brooks  Another kick return option. Could make the roster as a fifth or sixth receiver, but likely a practice squad or special teams player in year one.

Grade: C

Miles Dittberner — Coley showed big play ability in college as his speed makes him a home run threat. He could potentially fill a vertical-slot role with the Vikings, but will need to improve his route running if he is going to carve out a role on offense. There is a good chance Coley finds a spot as a special teams contributor and could eventually work his way onto the field as a rotational guy on offense.

Grade: C

Justin Ekstrom — Coley needs to work on his upper body strength but so did Adam Thielen once-upon-a-time. Coley could eventually find his way on to the 53-man roster and push the other receivers for playing time.

Grade: B-

Austin Erwin — Stacey Coley has hidden potential that needs to be unlocked. The Miami wideout could be a stellar deep threat given his athletic traits and ball tracking abilities. While he is raw, mentoring could be the key to his success early on.

Grade: B-

Round Seven (220th Overall): Ifeadi Odenigbo, DE — Northwestern

Clayton Brooks  Likely a Zimmer pick. Can never have too many pass rushers to get after a quarterback.

Grade: B

Miles Dittberner — Odenigbo could be another late round steal for the Vikings. The defensive end racked up 12 tackles for loss and 10 sacks last year for Northwestern and finished second in school history with 23.5 career sacks. He is a well-developed pass rusher who knows how to get to opposing quarterbacks. Odenigbo has the tools to play both defensive end and outside linebacker and could see time at both with the Vikings as a rotational guy.

Grade: A-

Justin Ekstrom — About as strong and powerful as they come yet Odenigbo will need time to develop into a three-down defensive end.

Grade: B+

Austin Erwin — Ifeadi Odenigbo is intriguing. The Northwestern football alum put up plenty of production, most of it coming in his final collegiate season with 10 sacks. He is a raw pass rusher with a nice set of moves to get around the blocker. Minnesota could end up with great value.

Grade: B+

Round Seven (232nd Overall): Elijah Lee, LB — Kansas State

Clayton Brooks  Has the the ability to play in coverage. Could surprise people in camp and compete for a spot in the base defense. At worst, special teams player.

Grade: B

Miles Dittberner — The Vikings found another value pick in Lee, who some have labeled as a potential sleeper at the outside linebacker position. He was a productive defender last season for Kansas State, totalling 110 tackles. Lee has great length and athleticism to get himself in position to make plays and could come in and compete for playing time right away, while also finding a role on special teams.

Grade: B

Justin Ekstrom — This may be my favorite pick of the Vikings’ draft. Lee could fit in quite nicely with the rest of the Vikings’ versatile linebackers. I may be in the minority here but the film showed me a fourth or fifth round talent as far as linebackers go in this draft; getting him in the seventh is highway robbery.

Grade: A+

Austin Erwin — Elijah Lee is one of the most aggressive linebackers in this year’s class. What goes unnoticed is his relentless effort. Lee is consistently around the ball play in and play out. It is not normal for seventh round draft picks to challenge for playing time in their first year but Lee is plenty capable. He is an athlete and can cover ground sideline to sideline.

Grade: A

Round Seven (245th Overall): Jack Tocho, CB — North Carolina State 

Clayton Brooks  Likely a project. With the glut of talent already at corner, probably going to the practice squad.

Grade: C

Miles Dittberner — Tocho was a four-year starter at North Carolina State and is an experienced press coverage corner. He has good size with an ideal NFL frame and plays physically. Tocho has demonstrated the strength and awareness to play at the next level. He provides the Vikings with depth at the corner position and could transition into a safety, while likely being a special teams contributor.

Grade: C

Justin Ekstrom — This was the head scratcher for me. The plans for Tocho are not quite clear but he has the look of a safety more than a cornerback. The Vikings could have easily let Tocho slip and picked him up as an undrafted free agent.

Grade: C-

Austin Erwin — Jack Tocho is a motivated defensive back with a chip on his shoulder. That fits right in with Mike Zimmer’s usual preferences. He has the size and developmental abilities to build himself into a solid coverage asset.

Grade: B-

Overall Draft Grade

Clayton Brooks  The Vikings hit home runs on their top three needs in this draft in Cook, Elflein, and Johnson. Cook could potentially be the biggest steal in this draft. Adams, Isidora, and Hodges could also end up being dependable first-year contributors.

Grade: A-

Miles Dittberner — The Vikings proved that teams do not necessarily need a first round pick to have a successful draft. Instead they made the most of their selections, finding great value with their picks, round after round. Despite not having a first round pick, they were able to find a first round talent in the second round and a second round talent in the third round. In fact, most of the Vikings’ picks look to have talent above where they were selected. Not only did they fill many of their most pressing roster needs, but the Vikings were also able to upgrade their depth at many positions while looking ahead to the future. All in all, this was a very successful draft for a team that appeared to have come in with their hands tied.

Grade: A

Justin Ekstrom — The law of averages may not add up with my overall grade as most of the selections were given decent grades. I just wish Spielman would stop trading up and down and all around. One trade, great! Two trades, awesome! Seven freaking trades is borderline insanity. Not only did Spielman trade too much, he also allowed the Packers to get great value with their selections of top tier defensive backs. Sometimes, the players the competition selects is just as important as your own team’s selections. If this draft class sees little playing time, will Spielman be gone? I am once again in the minority on this one, yet something was left to be desired after this draft.

Grade: B-

Austin Erwin — Rick Spielman made nifty personnel decisions over the NFL Draft weekend. Trading seven times, the Vikings moved around the draft board to take advantage of the depth this draft had to offer. Even without a first round selection, Minnesota was able to come away with top tier talent in this year’s class. Starting with Dalvin Cook, the Vikings have added a playmaker who will be an explosive tool in the run and pass game. He will be dynamic in putting points on the scoreboard. Spielman also took care of a glaring hole on the offensive line. The additions of Pat Elflein and Danny Isidora will bring both starting capability and much needed depth to the position. At the end of the day, fans can expect the 2017 class to be very influential next season. Many of these prospects will see the field early and often.

Grade: A

— Clayton R. Brooks II writes for cover32 and covers the Minnesota Vikings. He can be followed on Twitter @ClaytonRBrooks2. Like and follow vikings32 on Facebook, and Twitter.

— Miles Dittberner, is the Editor in Chief of cover32 and covers the NFL and Minnesota Vikings. Like and follow on Facebook and Twitter.

— Justin Ekstrom is a managing editor at cover32 and covers the NFL, Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers. He can be followed on Twitter @thesportscrib21

— Austin Erwin writes for cover32 and covers the NFL and the Minnesota Vikings. He is the unofficial cover32 Teddy Bridgewater ambassador and can be followed on Twitter @austin_erwin. on Facebook and Twitter.

Previous articleThe Architect of Pain: Raiders OL Coach Mike Tice
Next articleMost Important Part of the 2017 Raiders Season: Health