Happy Post-Draft Day, everybody! Yes, the 2017 NFL Draft is officially in the books. If you need an update of all the action that happened for the Minnesota Vikings over the course of draft weekend, we have all of our stories in one convenient place for you. We’re also tracking all the reports of undrafted free agents that are coming to Minnesota here for you as well.
Anyone that’s read the site for any length of time knows that I find the idea of “grading” a draft before any of the players involved have even hit the field to be an exercise in futility. However, it is sort of fun to read what some of the “expert” types out there think of what the Vikings did in the recent draft, so we’re going to round up some of those opinions here for your reading and discussion pleasure. We’ll also add more grades to this group as we find them.
Luke Easterling, The Draft Wire - A grade
It’s not easy to earn a top grade when you don’t have a first-round pick, but the Vikes did just that. They traded up for the most complete back in the draft (Florida State’s Dalvin Cook), then added a versatile anchor for the interior of the offensive line (Ohio State’s Pat Elflein).
On Day 3, Minnesota loaded up on stellar value (Iowa defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson, Kansas State linebacker Elijah Lee) and explosive playmakers (USF’s Rodney Adams, Miami’s Stacy Coley and Virginia Tech’s Bucky Hodges) to round out an impressive haul.
Walter Cherepinsky, Walter Football - B grade
The Vikings didn't have a Thursday night pick, so they weren't able to partake in the first-round trading frenzy. That didn't stop them from making significant moves on Day 2, however. Minnesota started by moving up to No. 41, where it selected Dalvin Cook. This might go down as one of the best selections in the 2017 NFL Draft. Cook has top-10 talent, but fell because of a combination of questionable character concerns and poor testing at the combine. Cook has elite vision, however, and he was amazing at Florida State. It would be surprising if he failed to put together a terrific pro career, especially now that he has a giant chip on his shoulder.
The Vikings moved up for Pat Elflein in the third round as well. I wasn't as big of a fan because I didn't rate Elflein as a third-round prospect. However, given all of Minnesota's offensive line woes recently, I can understand why the team chose him. I just don't think the Vikings needed to surrender resources for Elflein.
Outside of the two receiver picks, I like what the Vikings did on Day 3. Some great value picks they obtained were Danny Isidora, who will provide more help on the offensive line, and Bucky Hodges, who has great athleticism and upside to perhaps one day be a productive tight end.
Despite not having a first-round pick, the Vikings did well in the 2017 NFL Draft. My one main gripe is the trade for Elflein, but they were still able to come away with a solid class.
Evan Silva, Rotoworld - B- grade
2016 NFL completion rate leader Sam Bradford deserves mention in this haul after the Vikings sent their first-round pick to Philadelphia in last year’s trade to acquire him. (The Eagles used it on Derek Barnett.) Seemingly impatient after taking Thursday night off, GM Rick Spielman traded up for Cook in a move with Cincinnati that cost Minnesota a fourth-round pick (No. 128) in exchange for a mere seven-slot climb. The Bengals then used the Vikings’ old second-rounder on Joe Mixon, a better talent than Cook at the same position. Spielman traded up again in round three for Elflein, giving his fifth-rounder to the Jets for a nine-spot climb. In a round-three deal with Kansas City, Spielman turned the No. 86 pick into Nos. 104, 132, and 245. In yet another move – this time with San Francisco -- Spielman turned No. 104 into Nos. 109 and 219. In the end, the Vikings added quality prospects at needy positions in Cook, Elflein, and Johnson. Hodges will be hailed as a value pick because everyone has heard of him, but he is a multi-year project with off-field concerns. Nevertheless, he was a solid late-round flier along with Coley and Lee. The Vikings took a lot of shots on low-probability prospects late in hopes one or a few will hit. I thought this was a decent draft overall, and the Bradford trade so far looks like a win.
Dan Kadar, SB Nation - A grade
Without a first-round pick, the Vikings were put in a tough spot in the draft this year. They still managed to get first-round value in running back Dalvin Cook. I think he can be a star in the NFL, and trading a fourth-round pick to get him was worth it. On the field, he’s a playmaker who runs with speed, shiftiness, and enough power.
The Vikings needed help on the offensive line, and they got it in Ohio State’s Pat Elflein. Whether it’s guard or center, he’s a starter on the line. He’s a tough and instinctive blocker who could become one of the leaders on the team.
Fourth-round pick Jaleel Johnson is good insurance if there are issues with defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd. He’s a good run-stopper and can split a gap. Inside linebacker Ben Gedeon, at worst, is a solid depth addition. He could push for playing time on the weak side and on special teams. Fifth-round pick Danny Isidora of Miami provides good depth on the offensive line. Sixth-round pick Bucky Hodges was a nice addition as a movable weapon on offense.
Mel Kiper. . .draft expert, ESPN - B+ grade (link goes to In$ider story)
I think everyone who watched the Vikings last season knows their offensive line was a disaster. They addressed that need in free agency at a premium price with tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers, and getting Pat Elflein, my No. 1 center, at pick No. 70 was solid. I wonder if he could play guard next to Joe Berger, too. Dalvin Cook dropped a little throughout the pre-draft process, but he's a home run threat and will help out in the passing game, too. He had 40 total touchdowns over the past two seasons. Those are big shoes to fill to replace future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson, and the Vikings now have the trio of Cook, Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon fill that hole. The only quibble with these is that Minnesota traded up for both, though it did pick up another fourth-rounder with the Chiefs.
Jaleel Johnson, an interior pass-rusher, and inside linebacker Ben Gedeon were both value picks in the fourth round. I liked 6-foot-6 tight end Bucky Hodges in the sixth round as a pass-catcher with upside. Stacy Coley and Rodney Adams both ran 4.45 40s at the combine.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports - C+ grade
They didn't have a first-round pick after trading it last year to get quarterback Sam Bradford, but they got a first-round talent in the second round in running back Dalvin Cook. If he can stay away from the issues that had many dropping him down, he will be a steal. Upgrading their offensive line with Ohio State center Pat Elflein in the third round was a good pick. They added some weapons with a chance to help the passing game in the later rounds, including fifth-round receiver Rodney Adams from South Florida.
Chris Burke, Sports Illustrated - B+ grade
The Vikings did not own a first-round pick because of the Sam Bradford trade. Things worked out anyway: In Round 2, they landed a Round 1 talent (RB Dalvin Cook); in Round 3, they landed a Round 2 talent (G/C Pat Elflein). Cook has the upside of a star back in the NFL, despite what his lackluster testing numbers showed. Together, he and Latavius Murray should be able to kickstart the run game. Elflein helps there, too—he’s a plug-and-play starter for the interior. DT Jaleel Johnson (No. 109) is a big-bodied penetrator, and he’ll benefit from playing under Mike Zimmer. The Vikings took some shots from there: hard-nosed LB Ben Gideon (No. 120), WR Rodney Adams (No. 170), TE Bucky Hodges (No. 201). The first two picks, though, all but made up for sitting out Round 1.
Nate Davis, USA Today - B grade
Last year's trade for QB Sam Bradford meant GM Rick Spielman only had two picks in the first three rounds. But both – RB Dalvin Cook and OL Pat Elflein – should be instant difference makers for a rushing game that ranked last in 2016. Cook has red flags to shed after suffering several injuries at Florida State along with questions about his off-field behavior. But he's got the ability to make newly signed RB Latavius Murray a second stringer in short order.
Mark Maske, Washington Post - B- grade
The Vikings had no first-round pick after last year’s Sam Bradford trade but went for a high-volume draft, with an 11-player class. Getting RB Dalvin Cook with the ninth choice of the second round was well worth it. This draft was deep in runners but he’d been projected as a first-rounder by some observers. Cook will team with Latavius Murray at tailback for the Adrian Peterson-less Vikings. The center taken in the third round, Pat Elflein, could be a very solid although far-from-glamorous pick.
Dieter Kurtenbach, Fox Sports - C grade
Dalvin Cook is an excellent player, but is he, a one-cut runner, going to be a seamless fit into the Vikings' offense? Pat Elflein is an excellent center, but did the Vikings need a center? They have two already, and I like them both. Great value from getting Jaleel Johnson in the fourth round — absurd value — and I like Danny Isidora in the fifth, Bucky Hodges in the sixth, and Stacy Coley in the seventh, but the top two picks shouldn't have that many question marks.
Chad Reuter, NFL.com - B+ grade
The Vikings traded their 2017 first-rounder for Sam Bradford last year. He didn't lead the team to the playoffs despite a pretty good defense, but he was a solid pickup considering the situation the team was in after Teddy Bridgewater's injury. With better weapons around him, Bradford could be even better -- if he stays healthy. Minnesota didn't have many picks to start with, and then they traded a fourth-round pick to move up to get Dalvin Cook. Cook's talent was worthy of a top pick, so it's hard to blame Rick Spielman for this move. Without Adrian Peterson, a bold move was needed. Hopefully, the concerns that dropped Cook to the second were much ado about nothing. Pat Elflein will provide strength in the middle of the offensive line for years to come.
Getting Jaleel Johnson early in the fourth is a smart move. He'll control the line of scrimmage -- just like fifth-round future starting guard Danny Isidora. Bucky Hodges is a receiver/tight end 'tweener, but his hands are great and he can win vs. linebackers; that's a good sixth-round pick. Elijah Lee presents inside and outside talents at linebacker, another excellent late-round selection.
Joseph Zucker, Bleacher Report - B grade
With some questions over whether Latavius Murray can be the long-term successor to Adrian Peterson, Dalvin Cook made a lot of sense in the second round.
Those are some of the grades that we’ve seen from around the internet in the wake of the 2017 NFL Draft. How would you grade what Rick Spielman and the Minnesota Vikings did over the course of the past three days?
How would you grade the Minnesota Vikings’ 2017 NFL Draft?
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