I say this every year on this site, and I'm going to go ahead and say it again. . .I think that the concept of "grading" a draft class a) less than 24 hours after the draft is completed and b) before any of those players have even participated in an NFL mini-camp, let alone a game, is ridiculous. Nobody has any idea how these draftees are going to turn out, and anyone that says they do is a liar.
However, I understand that there are a lot of people that do enjoy that sort of thing, and I'm going to attempt to put as many of them in one place as I can. I know it gives people something to discuss in the wake of the NFL Draft, and in a few years we can either look back at these and laugh like hell or say that somebody actually got it right. So, let's take a look around the interwebs and see what we can see about their opinions on the Minnesota Vikings' 2015 draft class.
We'll start, as we generally do with these things, with Dan Kadar over at the mothership. Dan seemed to like our draft quite a bit, from his commentary.
Best pick: Clemmings - If he's healthy, Clemmings will push for playing time at right tackle or guard early in his career.
Questionable pick: Pruitt - This is only questionable because Pruitt's place in the NFL - likely as an H-back or fullback - is so undervalued those players can be found late in the draft.
Few teams did as well early in the draft as the Vikings. Waynes is the second corner head coach Mike Zimmer needed on his defense, and the pick is understandable. Kendricks was a great choice in the second round. He should be slated into starting spot for the Vikings. Minnesota needed another pass rusher and got a good developmental one in Hunter. Clemmings is a steal if his foot injury doesn't hamper his career. Diggs was a good choice in the fifth round. He's talented, but never quite lived up to expectations in college.
Overall grade: B+
Next, we head on over to NFL.com, where they graded each separate day of the draft before giving an overall grade.
Day 1 grade: B+
Day 2 grade: A-
Day 3 grade: B
Overall grade: B+
The skinny: There will be no Louisville reunion in the Twin Cities between Teddy Bridgewater and DeVante Parker after the Vikings went defense yet again with their top pick. There are question marks about Waynes in off-coverage, but he has the ability to be a top-tier cornerback. Kendricks reunites with former UCLA teammate Anthony Barr and lands in a perfect spot. Hunter flashed plenty of potential at LSU but is a bit of a project; he could develop nicely in Minnesota. Medical issues pushed Clemmings down the board, but he's a highly regarded tackle who has great upside as a fourth-round pick. Diggs adds some much needed help for Bridgewater.
Bottom line: The defense was certainly improved, but the Vikings might not have done enough to help out Bridgewater if the offensive linemen don't pan out.
With all due respect to our Louisville friends, people are going to have to get over the Vikings not taking DeVante Parker. I'm sure that Parker will be a nice player in the NFL, but they were both available when the Vikings picked, and the team decided that Waynes was the better choice. Until there's a performance-based reason to not trust Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman any more, I'll go ahead and side with them.
Over at ESPN, behind the great In$ider paywall, Mel Kiper sort of likes the Vikings' draft class, but doesn't seem to be too excited about it.
Minnesota Vikings: B
Top needs: CB, LB, WR, RB
Trae Waynes brings about a lot of debate among my colleagues on the draft. We know he can cover in a straight line, and I love the speed, but the detractors point out Waynes really struggles when wide receivers aren't running in a straight line. As well, Jon Gruden is concerned Waynes isn't good in run support. I had him at No. 22 on my final Big Board, but my sense is the Vikings felt he was a clear need fit at No. 11, and they wouldn't be able to get a CB at his level later on. If it were me, I'm going with DeVante Parker right there, reuniting him with college teammate Teddy Bridgewater. They had one of the best picks in Round 2 when they added a potential immediate starter in Eric Kendricks. This kid can really run sideline to sideline and is the best cover linebacker in the draft. He doesn't just cover -- he actually makes plays. Danielle Hunter is a good developmental pick as a pass-rusher with great physical tools -- he was quietly more productive than people think. T.J. Clemmings has a foot issue that threatens his long-term potential, but that's a reasonable value bet in Round 4, especially after the disastrous situation the Vikings saw at left tackle the past season. Stefon Diggs was a good addition late because he's a guy who can turn short passes into big plays, though I would have liked a wide receiver pick a bit earlier. Mycole Pruitt and Tyrus Thompson both have the potential to stick -- I once saw Thompson as a potential Round 2 guy. The Vikes hit needs pretty well, and if Waynes cleans up aspects of his game, they might have really helped the defense with him and Kendricks. Good draft, but Waynes still has some "we'll see" aspects.
And again with the Parker thing. Yeesh.
Moving on to SI.com, Doug Farrar has more positive things to say about the draft class.
Minnesota Vikings: A
Minnesota's primary needs were at cornerback and offensive tackle. It dealt with the first issue at pick No. 11 by taking Michigan State's Trae Waynes, a highly physical and aggressive press cornerback. He'll be a perfect bookend for Xavier Rhodes if he learns to deal with crossing routes and avoids a heap of penalty flags. Pitt right tackle T.J. Clemmings dropped to the fourth round due to medical concerns, but if the converted defensive lineman can stay healthy, he might be the best tackle out of this class in a couple years. Second-round linebacker Eric Kendricks should be able to start right away in the middle of Mike Zimmer's defense, while third-round pass-rusher Danielle Hunter from LSU is both freakishly athletic and raw like sushi. He'll need some time with a line coach, but there's a lot to like there. In addition, the Vikings got two much-needed targets for Teddy Bridgewater: Southern Illinois tight end MyCole Pruitt (one of my favorite small-school guys this year) and Maryland speed receiver Stefon Diggs, who can line up all over the place. —DF
"Raw like sushi." I like that. And yes, Waynes' technique isn't 100% refined or anything, but that's what Mike Zimmer does. . .Rhodes is Exhibit A on that front.
Another pretty favorable review of this class comes from Josh Norris over at Rotoworld.
Overview: Fact is, I've "heard" of all of these prospects and seen a bunch of them play. This is usually how Rick Spielman's drafts go. More so than most GMs, Spielman tends to select players who've often been discussed inside the draft community. That isn't necessarily a good or bad thing, but Minnesota often gets positive "draft grades" as a result. When I look at this draft, I certainly lean toward believing Spielman did well. Waynes and Kendricks hit major needs and project as Opening Day starters. Hunter is a high-ceiling developmental pick. Clemmings has an outside chance to supplant struggling LT Matt Kalil in time, assuming his foot checks out. Pruitt is a highly athletic H-back type, while Diggs combines impact kickoff-return skills with slot receiver potential. Thompson is a boom-or-bust prospect, albeit with plenty of upside. Dubose, Shepherd, and Robinson all profile positively as role players. My belief is the Vikings emerged with at least two and as many as five year-one contributors, and as a significantly better team.
If the Vikings have five year-one contributors in this class, this team is going to be markedly better. I mean, they're going to be markedly better anyway, but getting that many contributors from this rookie class would just about guarantee that.
At CBS Sports, Pete Prisco doesn't show as much dislike towards the Vikings as he generally does, giving the Vikings the highest grade of any team in the division.
Best Pick: I love the choice of Eric Kendricks in the second round. He is a speed linebacker who will add to the already young defense. Nice pick.
Questionable move: I like third-round defensive end Danielle Hunter, but while he has talent he needs to flash it more. He could be a big-time hit or a bust.
Third-day gem: Getting tackle T.J. Clemmings in the fourth round is a major steal. I know he has some injury concerns, but this kid has a ton of raw talent. He has a chance to be a good starter down the road if healthy.
Analysis: General manager Rick Spielman had another good draft. He has done so the past couple of years and has a good, young team on the rise. This draft is littered with a lot of productive college players. First-round corner Trae Waynes will be a starter right away.
The guys over at Walter Football appear to be big fans of what Rick Spielman and company did this weekend, too.
Minnesota Vikings: A Grade
Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: Receiver and cornerback are the two positions of greatest need. They'll both have to be addressed early. Elsewhere, the Vikings will have to consider a running back to replace Adrian Peterson, a left tackle for insurance, and a linebacker to improve the middle of the defense.
2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Vikings emerged from this weekend with one of the top classes in the 2015 NFL Draft. To quote an e-mailer who is 100-percent correct, the Vikings, quite simply, "killed it."
Their initial selections were excellent. They obtained the top cornerback in the draft with the No. 11 pick, which seems like a theft, especially after hearing that he was drawing some consideration at the seventh pick. The Vikings also secured the best prospect at another position - inside linebacker. I don't know why Eric Kendricks was available in the middle of the second round, but Minnesota got a steal.
Speaking of steals, T.J. Clemmings in the fourth qualifies as one. Even the teams that were down on Clemmings listed him as a third-rounder before his injuries came to light, so he was definitely a bargain early on Day 3. He could eventually emerge as the Vikings' starting left tackle. Not bad for a third-day selection!
Other picks like Danielle Hunter and Stefon Diggs made a ton of sense, and Minnesota added lots of depth to its roster elsewhere. Viking fans have to be thrilled heading into what appears to be a promising 2015 campaign.
And let's throw in one more sources. . .because, in the words of the great American philosopher Dick van Patten, eight is enough. So, let's give ourselves another reminder that, yes, The Sporting News still exists. (Every year I'm surprised by this, for some reason.)
The grade: A
There's a lot to like about this class. They filled needs with arguably three first-round talents in Waynes, Kendricks and Clemmings. Hunter could end up being a freakish pass rusher, and Pruitt and Diggs give Teddy Bridgewater sneaky good help as versatile targets. Minnesota is itching to be back in the playoffs very soon.
And by "very soon," I think he means "this year." Because, at this point, that's where this team is headed.
So that's a look around the internet at the (way too early) grades for the Minnesota Vikings' draft class of 2015. What do you think? Do you think the Vikings came out as well as the consensus seems to believe?