See, now this is a draft grade that actually makes sense. That's why it's going to the front page. -Chris
Edit: Thanks Chris! Since this made the front page, I fixed a ton of editing mistakes, and I also re-wrote the paragraph about the Jared Allen trade, just a little.
Now that it's been 4 years, it's time to look back and issue grades for the Vikings 2008 draft. What, you thought I was going to grade the 2012 draft less than 24 hours after it was finished? Really? We haven't even seen the 2012 Draft Class practice, let alone play in a game or anything. We simply have no idea what their real value is at this point. Furthermore, according to the NFLPA, the average length of an NFL career is 3.5 years. So, in order to truly gauge how well a particular draft was, we have to wait at least 3-4 years to find out which players are better than average, because those players will still be around making an impact 4 years later. So, with that in mind, here is my analysis and grades for the 2008 Draft. Read on after the jump.Let's flashback to April of 2008. Back then Brad Childress was beginning his 3rd season as our head coach. The Vikings had gone 6-10 in 2006, and 8-8 in 2007. 2007 wasn't a terrible season, but it was disappointing. We had 7 Pro Bowlers that year and just missed the playoffs, which resulted in us having the 17th pick in the 2008 draft. Fans were willing to give Childress a chance, but they wanted results heading into the 2008 season. Rick Spielman had been brought on as director of player personnel almost 2 years prior, but he was only 1/3 of the "Triangle of Authority." Also, he had only been directly involved in 1 prior draft (2007), since he was hired after the 2006 draft. Before we can begin to assess the draft choices from 2008, let's take a look back at the 2007 roster at the end of the season prior to the 2008 draft, shall we?
C: Matt Birk
Looking back in hindsight, our weaknesses on offense were pretty clearly QB and WR. There was some hope though at this point that Tarvaris Jackson could be the QB of the future (a lot of fans were calling for him to start heading into 2008, and fans affectionately referred to him as "T-Jack"). Adrian Peterson had just lit it up his rookie season and made us all forget Chester Taylor had a great year in 2006. The offensive line was solid, but even back then we were lacking some depth at guard, tackle, and especially at center. Our one weak point along the O-Line was right tackle as Marcus Johnson was proving to be a liability.
Our defense was definitely a strength heading into 2008. The only real weakness was at DE. We were lacking some depth at CB and S, but at the time Winfield was in his prime, and Griffen was developing into a solid CB (he hadn't blown out his knees yet). McCauley was expected to develop into a solid corner as well. While Darren Sharper was playing at a high level, there wasn't much behind him, and he was already over the age of 30.
P: Chris Kluwe
LS: Cullen Loeffler
This trio was performing well (and they have continued to perform at a high level for many years). The only weakness was Longwell's leg strength. He has just never been able to pin a kickoff deep in an opponent's endzone without some help from the wind, and 2008 was no different.
Free Agency and Pre-Draft Moves
Prior to the draft, we tweaked the roster by releasing S Dwight Smith, QB Kelly Holcomb and trading WR Troy Williamson to Jacksonville for a 6th round pick. We also resigned WR Robert Ferguson and LB Heath Farwell. Then we added a bunch of free agents, many of whom didn't make the final 53-man roster: QB Gus Frerotte, DB Benny Sapp, S Michael Boulware, DL Kendrick Allen, DL Ellis Wyms, LB Dallas Sartz, LB Derrick Pope, RB/KR Maurice Hicks, S Madieu Williams,WR Bernard Berrian, and FB Thomas Tapeh. In the lead-up to the 2008 draft, we made a block-buster trade giving up our 1st, two 3rds and swapping 6th round picks for DE Jared Allen.
2008 Draft Needs
So, we attempted to fill many needs on offense through free agency and trades by picking up journey-man veteran Gus Ferrotte and speedy Bernard Berrian. We also addressed the secondary with Sapp and Williams. And picked up a controversial defensive end in Jared Allen. He had previously been suspended in the 2007 season, and was publicly unhappy about his contract situation in KC. At the time, some questioned the move, but history has shown it to be worth it, for the most part. Allen has been a force along our D-Line, and has done nothing but good things for the MN community, including his nationwide charity Homes for Wounded Warriors. In terms of controversy, there really hasn't been any. So, our needs heading into the 2008 draft still included the O-Line, especially guard and center, further depth along the D-Line and the secondary, and even though we picked up Berrian, we needed improved depth at WR. So, what did we end up doing in this draft?
2008 Draft Picks:
Round 2, Pick #43: Tyrell Johnson, Safety from Arkansas State
Grade: D, 65/100. The only thing preventing this from being an all-out F, is the fact that he was signed as a free agent this off-season with the Dolphins. He never developed into a reliable starter on our team, and the only fair assessment of this pick is that of a bust. Maybe he proves me wrong in Miami, but I doubt it.
EDIT (4/30/2012): MarkSP18 corrected me on this one. We traded our 4th round pick to move up in order to select Tyrell Johnson. I don't know about you, but that just makes this whole thing a lot worse. That may make this an F.
Round 5, Pick #137: John David Booty, QB from USC
Grade: F, 35/100. We traded a 5th and 7th round pick to move up in the 5th round to draft Booty. Many were hoping he would maybe develop into the next Carson Palmer. Yeah, he didn't. He survived on our roster as the 3rd QB for a couple of seasons and then after landing on a few practice squads, he fell out of the league altogether. Even though it was only a 5th round pick, we still moved up to get him, so therefore this grade has to be an F.
EDIT (4/30/2012): MarkSP18 corrected me on this one too. We traded an extra 5th rounder (not sure where it came from) and a 7th rounder to move up in the 5th to draft Booty.
Round 5, Pick #157: Letroy Guion, DT from Florida State
Grade: B, 85/100.. Guion is penciled in as the starter alongside Kevin Williams this year. For a 5th round pick, Guion has carved out a nice role on the team as a rotational DT, and has developed into the starter heading into the 2012 season. IMO, the jury is still out since he hasn't been a true starter before, hence a grade of B, rather than A.
EDIT (4/30/2012): Not sure where this extra 5th came from, and I'm too lazy to spend anymore time researching to figure it out.
Round 6, Pick #187: John Sullivan, C from Notre Dame
Grade: A, 95/100. This was the best pick of the 2008 draft. While we traded our own 6th round pick to KC, we got theirs in return and used it to draft Sullivan. He was able to learn behind Birk for a year, and then took over the starting duties in 2009. He earned a contract extension last year and is regarded as a good starting center in the league.
Round 6, Pick #193: Jaymar Johnson, WR from Jackson State
Grade: C-, 70/100. With the pick from Jacksonville for Troy Williamson, we drafted Jaymar Johnson who is (to quote MarkSP18), a Pro Bowl Practice Squad player. He showed a ton of potential, and every year looked like he was ready to crack the starting 53-man roster, but he has been hampered with injuries. As a 6th round pick, there aren't a lot of expectations here, and technically he's still a member of the Arizona Cardinals. But, he's never developed into a starter, so a grade of C- is maybe being generous. Whatever Arizona does with him this season may end up changing this grade in one direction or the other.
Overall Grade: D
We addressed most of our major needs, with the exception of guard. Grading just the players we picked up, it could be as high as a C-, but since we didn't address *every* need, and we busted our single high-round pick, I can't justifiably give this draft a passing grade. Yes, we got a couple of longer-term starters out of this draft in Sullivan and Guion, and we also got Jared Allen out of the deal. That said, of the 5 picks we had in this draft, 2 of them remain on the team, 2 are in backup roles at best with other teams, and 1 is not in the league anymore.
What did the experts say at the time?
USA Today actually gave us a B, saying:
• Minnesota Vikings: Count DE Jaren Allen as their No. 1 pick (and two No. 3s). He had 15½ sacks last year to lead the NFL and he brings a missing element to this defense, which ranked first in the NFL against the run. So even minus an influx of young talent, they used choices well. QB John David Booty in the fifth round is a great value play for a team with issues at the position. Also like S Tyrell Johnson.
ESPN gave us a B too, saying:
They had only one pick in the first four rounds. I had safety Tyrell Johnson going in the first round, so to get him in Round 2 (43rd overall) is a great pick because Johnson has big-time skills. In the fifth round the Vikings took John David Booty, an accurate quarterback who is great at throwing on the move and sees the field extremely well. Letroy Guion is more of a developmental defensive tackle, and center John Sullivan was average in 2007, but at times looked very good in his career. Factor in the addition of DE Jared Allen, and this was a good draft for the Vikings.
So, the lesson here is to simply ignore what everyone is saying about how well the Vikings drafted in 2012. It is all meaningless until we see these guys on the field and give them a chance to develop over the course of the next several years.