I've always said that grading an NFL Draft Class within 24 hours after the completion of the draft is the height of absurdity. But, I get that there are people that get paid to do that sort of thing anyway. Over at ESPN, Mel Kiper. . .dramatic pause. . .Draft Expert is one of those people.
The first round of this draft has me pretty split. I thought Anthony Barr was a pretty big reach based on my evaluations; he's a talented but raw player who lacks instincts on defense. On the other hand, moving decisively to get Teddy Bridgewater made sense, and they have the pieces around him to help him succeed. Plus, as Trent Dilfer noted, the culture in that locker room could be good for Teddy as well. While I really liked the David Yankey pick and also am a fan of Jerick McKinnon based on his tape and his exceptional workout numbers, not taking an inside linebacker anywhere is questionable given what they currently have on the roster, and I'm surprised they didn't add another wide receiver given the talent available. They took some shots at cornerback, and I think Kendall James could be a pretty good late value. The Vikings did a pretty good job overall, and if Barr develops more and Bridgewater really becomes the answer, this draft will look really good.
Well, on one hand, Yankey didn't play (and was only active once, I think) and James didn't even make the team out of camp.
Overall, on draft weekend, Kiper gave the Vikings a B- grade.
So, what does he have to say now that the season is in the books?
I actually knocked this draft down a peg last spring because I simply wasn't as high on Anthony Barr as a player who could come in and provide early returns as a pass-rusher. The Vikings got him at No. 9, and I thought it was a reach. What happened? They took him off the line of scrimmage. The cynical side of me says that still made him somewhat of a reach, because I think you can get a player to succeed early there further down the board. But I am also impressed with Barr's transition -- he had moved from offense to defense at UCLA -- and it's clear the Vikings have a player.
They also have a player in Teddy Bridgewater, who was the top QB on my all-rookie team. Sure, you can question whether he'll become a star, but you can't question that he looked more ready for this level of competition than any other rookie QB, and that he's simply tough. I really like Bridgewater's chances, and as I said then, "moving decisively to get [him] made sense, and they have the pieces around him to help him succeed." Jerick McKinnon got called into action earlier than we thought and looked pretty good -- I do think if he gets a lot of carries, he's going to hit a lot of home runs. All in all, Minny has to be excited about this class. Barr was pretty good, and Bridgewater has a chance to be the answer at QB. Great start.
Kiper upgraded the Vikings' draft grade to a B+ after further review, which is probably just about right. I imagine it would have been higher if Yankey of Scott Crichton. . .who, you'll note, is not mentioned in either summary. . .had made any sort of an impact.
What do you think of Kiper's re-grading of the Minnesota Vikings' 2014 draft class?