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Minnesota Vikings 2023 NFL Draft Grades

What do the Really Smart Football People™ think of the Vikings’ draft class?

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NFL: APR 28 2023 Draft Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As we say every year, there’s a certain level of futility in attempting to assign a grade to a draftee or a draft class before any of the young men selected have even gotten an opportunity to set foot on an NFL field. Despite that, there are a lot of people that still do it and there are plenty of people that enjoy talking about it, so we’re going to facilitate that.

Here’s a quick roundup of some of the draft grades that the Minnesota Vikings have received from Really Smart Football People™ around the internet after what happened this past weekend. If there are grades that you’ve seen on the internet that we don’t have as part of our roundup here, feel free to drop them in the comments and we’ll add them here.

Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN - B grade

The Vikings got just two defensive snaps from rookie safety Lewis Cine, last year’s first-round pick, and they entered this draft without a second-rounder because it was dealt for tight end T.J. Hockenson last fall. So while I thought for a little bit on Thursday that they might go for quarterback Will Levis at No. 23, they opted for a prospect who can make an immediate impact. Jordan Addison will fit well as the No. 2 wideout behind Justin Jefferson. Addison can run any route, and he can line up all across the formation. He just knows how to get open.

Minnesota went back to USC for cornerback Mekhi Blackmon (102) in Round 3. I had that one as a little bit of a reach with better corners on the board. I liked defensive tackle Jaquelin Roy (141) in Round 5; he can be solid nose tackle. I don’t see NFL starter traits for quarterback Jaren Hall, but he was extremely productive over the past two years. I never mind a Day 3 quarterback selection too much. Running back DeWayne McBride (222) is my favorite selection for Minnesota; he is a top-100 prospect on my board. He averaged 155.7 rushing yards per game last season, and he can break tackles in the open field. He isn’t likely to be a third-down back as a rookie, but he’s a natural runner once he gets the ball.

This is a small class, but Addison fills a massive need. I’m just curious to see how much Blackmon can play as a rookie, because Minnesota has available snaps for him.

Chad Reuter, - A- grade

Addison will complement star receiver Justin Jefferson so well from the slot that it seemed the marriage was fate. Tight end T.J. Hockenson cost the team its second-rounder, which may prove wise if the Vikings are able to extend or re-sign him next offseason. Blackmon’s competitiveness and sticky coverage met a crucial need.

Ward is a tough-minded safety who can play some nickel for the Vikings, picking him after gaining a 2024 fifth-round pick when trading down. Roy was an excellent value in the fifth as an active interior defender. Hall is a developmental passer but flashed the velocity and accuracy of an NFL starter as often as some other quarterbacks selected before him. McBride went two rounds later than I expected.

Pro Football Focus: B- grade

Day 1: The Vikings stick at No. 23 overall and come away with a talented wide receiver to pair with Justin Jefferson. Addison was the Biletnikoff Award winner with Pittsburgh in 2021 before transferring to USC. He finished the past two seasons with 25 touchdowns from 159 receptions.

Day 2: One of PFF analyst Sam Monson’s favorite players in the draft, Blackmon is coming off by far the best season of his college career. On the field for 907 snaps, he produced a 90.6 PFF grade and allowed just 47.6% of the passes thrown into his coverage to be caught. He missed only two tackles in 2022.

Day 3: Ward failed to grade above 61.0 in both seasons in which he played 600 or more snaps. His 53.6 coverage grade and 65.9% completion rate allowed don’t inspire much confidence, but he does offer some versatility in that he can play outside, in the slot and at safety.

Roy addresses a need as an interior lineman with the strength to hold up at the point of attack, frequently battling with SEC offensive linemen. While he isn’t the quickest player off the line, Roy can bull over interior offensive linemen and produced a 10.1% pass-rush win rate in 2022, which is solid on the interior for a 300-pounder.

Hall performed very well in a cozy situation at BYU the past two years. He is an excellent athlete who is undersized with mediocre arm strength. He has the luxury of sitting behind Kirk Cousins, who wins with smarts and moxie. Hall will need to show the same traits against NFL pass rushes if he hopes to succeed long-term.

McBride earned an elite 94.1 grade in 2022 with 4.6 yards after contact per carry, 25 carries of 15-plus yards, which ranked seventh, and 76 missed tackles forced. We haven’t seen much receiving from McBride, but it may just be a lack of opportunity. He could be a perfect fit in Minnesota’s zone scheme.

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News - B+ grade

The Vikings started off with a bang taking Addison to pair with Justin Jefferson. They lost their way with shaky consecutive selections for corner, but quickly rebounded with a steal of Roy. Hall and McBride may not be the late-round answers, but their developmental plan put the Vikings on track to think more about life with Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook, likely in 2024.

DraftKings - B grade

The Vikings started strong with Jordan Addison, who had showed up in several mocks as the perfect guy to pair with Justin Jefferson. They filled some major needs in the secondary with Blackmon and Ward, grabbed a solid Kirk Cousins backup in Jaren Hall, and may have gotten Roy and McBride at a steal in these later rounds. They may not have gotten any stars, but they grabbed some solid options to fill in some struggling positions and added to their depth chart.

Nate Davis, USA Today - B grade

Different kind of player, but first-round WR Jordan Addison should make hay as he steps into departed Adam Thielen’s role opposite Jefferson. And, remember, the Round 2 choice was used last year to get TE T.J. Hockenson. The Vikes’ most interesting picks might be fifth-round QB Jaren Hall and seventh-round RB DeWayne McBride given the uncertain futures of Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook, respectively. Also, admittedly rooting for undrafted free agent OLB Andre Carter II, who played at West Point.

Associated Press - A grade

WR Jordan Addison (23) replaces Adam Thielen. CBs Mekhi Blackmon and Jay Ward upgrade secondary. - B grade

To start the draft, the Vikings passed on adding a future replacement for Kirk Cousins and found help for Justin Jefferson. Addison has the speed to be a downfield threat, but he can also help in the intermediate game because of his smooth route running. Addison has the skillset to punish teams that decide to double Jefferson. Blackmon is a competitive cornerback, and one who pushed Addison during USC practices. After a disastrous season defending the pass, Minnesota suddenly has an intriguing secondary with Blackmon, Ward and free-agent addition Byron Murphy Jr. Later in the draft, Minnesota found Hall to be Cousins’s backup, and maybe as a potential replacement.

Overall, all of the grades that the Vikings received for their draft haul were above average, which I suppose is pretty good considering that they only made six picks. It’s not one of the 10, 12, or 15-pick draft classes we got used to during the Spielman era, but we’ll see if Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has gotten quality rather than quantity.

We’ll know for sure in. . .oh, I don’t know. . .three or four years, I’m guessing.