For those of you that might be a little newer to the site, allow me to state my position on "draft grades."
Personally, I don't care much for them. I think that grading a draft less than 24 hours after it's taken place and months before any of the players even participate in an NFL Training Camp is a bit on the silly side, and to this end I simply have to cite Mel Kiper, Jr. giving a "B+" grade to the Minnesota Vikings' 2005 draft class, a group that may have been the worst in the history of the franchise.
So, while you won't catch me grading the 2014 Minnesota Vikings' draft, that doesn't mean I won't help organize some of the feelings of other "experts" out there for your reading pleasure. That's the purpose of this post, so let's get to it.
We'll start with CBS Sports curmudgeon Pete Prisco, who was doing grades for each pick as they came off the board on Thursday Night. Prisco seemed to like the pick of Anthony Barr at #9, giving the pick a B+ grade having this to say about it.
I like this pick for a team that needed to get faster at linebacker. He will amp up the blitz package.
On the other hand, he didn't seem to like the move up to get quarterback Teddy Bridgewater at #32, giving it a B- mark despite his commentary on it.
I like the Vikings going up to get Bridgewater. It makes sense when you don't have a quarterback.
The Vikings could have gone a number of directions, but they shored up both sides of the ball in the best way possible. They landed a perfect Jared Allen replacement in the athletic Barr and only had to give up a fourth-round pick (outside the top 100, too) to move up and grab a polished passer. Norv Turner will really like what he's getting in Bridgewater.
Over at SI.com, Chris Burke did pretty extensive write-ups of each of the pick, along with a grade. He gave the Barr pick a B+ mark. I won't include his entire commentary, but rather just a highlight here.
This grade could change drastically in the coming years, depending on how quickly Barr develops from something of a one-trick pony rusher to a complete player. Minnesota found itself a little thin on the edge, especially with Jared Allen's departure to Chicago. It also wanted to upgrade its linebacking corps somewhere in this draft - Alabama's C.J. Mosley was considered a possibility, given the Vikings' 4-3 base defense.
Barr will provide Minnesota with a definite extra punch around the corner. At the very least he'll be a terrific asset on passing downs. In the perfect scenario, Barr develops into a three-down player that has as much sideline-to-sideline ability as any linebacker in the league.
And he really liked the Bridgewater selection, giving it the elusive A+ grade.
The more I go back and rewatch Bridgewater tape, the less willing I am to drop into the seemingly common perception that he has some abnormally low ceiling, and that he'll top off pretty quickly in the NFL. Most of his deep ball issues can be fixed by the kinds of coaching and strength training that all kinds of quarterbacks (Drew Brees and Tom Brady come immediately to mind) have benefited from in obvious ways. And yes, he played at about 190 pounds through the final bit of his 2013 season, but showing up weighing 214 pounds at the combine was a definite statement. And yes, he really blew it at his pro day ... but let's be real here: Any NFL executive who will throw multiple scouted games out the window based on a shirt-and-shorts session, whether positive or negative, is probably on his way out the door. Kudos to the Vikings for moving past it.
Couldn't agree more with the bolded part myself. Here's hoping that Bridgewater works out to the point where Rick Spielman doesn't have to worry about his job for a long, long time.
Over at Walter Football, they also liked the Barr selection, grading it as a solid B.
This is a pretty decent pick. The Vikings needed someone to replace Jared Allen, and Anthony Barr is the top pass-rusher available. Some even considered Barr to be superior to Khalil Mack. If you're wondering about Barr's fit in a 4-3 defense, Mike Zimmer's scheme calls for a pass-rushing linebacker. Minnesota will use Barr like Von Miller. I don't have as big of a problem for Minnesota passing on Johnny Manziel because he doesn't really fit Norv Turner's offense. The Vikings can get Derek Carr later.
Well, they didn't get Derek Carr later. They got Teddy Bridgewater later, and while they also gave the selection the same B grade as Barr, the praise isn't quite as glowing.
Many of Teddy Bridgewater's fan base on Twitter will praise this pick, but I'm not in love with it. It's solid, but remember that there's a reason nearly every single team in the NFL passed on him. Bridgewater doesn't have any great traits. He doesn't have any glaring negative ones either, but this all just means that he's going to be an average starter at best, and I'm concerned about him playing outdoors over the next couple of years. Having said that, "average starter at best" is a big upgrade over what the Vikings have had at quarterback since Brett Favre.
On the upside, none of the teams that passed on him have Norv Turner to work with him after he gets to town, either.
EDIT: The SB Nation Mothership has released their grades for the first round as well, looking at each pick from a "risk/reward" perspective. They gave the Barr pick a B grade, saying the following:
The risk: Anthony Barr is an incomplete pass rusher and needs to develop some counter moves. He's an incredible athlete, but he is still learning how to play linebacker.
The reward: Barr is a high upside player with the potential to develop into an impact pass rusher for the Vikings. With what Minnesota will ask him to do, Barr could find success early. He's going to be a handful off the edge. Plus, the Vikings got an extra pick by trading down with the Browns. And they were just getting started.
The selection of Bridgewater received another A+ from these guys as well.
The risk: There is a reason Bridgewater fell this far, though the greater NFL Draft coverage community has no idea why.
The reward: The Vikings only had to give up a second- and fourth-round pick to get Bridgewater, the draft's top quarterback. For us, Bridgewater is the draft's top quarterback and a true franchise player. To get him at No. 32 is sort of ridiculous.
And those are some of the early returns from the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft for the Minnesota Vikings. What do you think? Who's right? Who's all wet on this one?