EAGAN, Minn. – The picks are in, which means the draft grades are, too.
It's not realistic to accurately assess any team's rookie class the week after an NFL Draft; after all, as Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said, "You don't measure the success of the draft until three years down the road."
That doesn't stop experts and analysts around the league, however, from giving their initial reactions and grades to how each organization fared during the 2020 NFL Draft.
And according to the pundits that be, the Vikings put together a very successful three days.
Here's what those experts had to say:
Chad Reuter, NFL.com
GM Rick Spielman knew picking multiple cornerbacks … was a must, as was finding a receiver to replace Stefon Diggs and creating more competition on the offensive line. He hit all the notes in Rounds 1-3.
[D.J.] Wonnum was underappreciated at South Carolina, with Javon Kinlaw stealing the spotlight – but the edge defender is athletic, tough and worthy of an early fourth-round pick. Getting [James] Lynch in the fourth round was a steal – his character off the field and motor on it will help him stay in the league for a very long time. [Troy] Dye is a rare guy who led his college team in tackles for four years – his selection addresses a position of need, as well. [Harrison] Hand, [Blake] Brandel, [Kenny] Willekes, [Kyle] Hinton and [K.J.] Osborn will provide depth at minimum, but have the potential to have more of an impact. Getting [Nate] Stanley in the seventh round could pay major dividends down the line. [Josh] Metellus and [Brian] Cole are safeties who can play in the box, maybe even at linebacker instead of safety.
Click here for Reuter's full grades.
View images of all of the Minnesota Vikings 2020 NFL Draft picks.
Mel Kiper, Jr., ESPN
Grade: A –
Minnesota came into Thursday night with 12 picks and ended Saturday night with 15 picks, plus an extra fourth-rounder and two extra fifth-round picks in the 2021 draft. With that much capital, it takes a lot not to get at least an A- grade from me. And really, I like the value the Vikings got throughout, starting with extracting a first-round pick for wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who was disgruntled in Minnesota. General Manager Rick Spielman was able to get the No. 22 pick from the Bills, and he was able to directly address the hole at wideout, taking Justin Jefferson, who is a perfect fit. He's going to catch a ton of passes from Kirk Cousins out of the slot.
The Vikings also got a starting cornerback in Jeff Gladney (31), even if he was a little lower on my board. Teams reached for cornerbacks in Round 1, but I can live with this one; we know how much Mike Zimmer likes to mold defensive backs, and Gladney had an early Day 2 grade from me. Offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland (58) has a chance to start immediately. He was Boise State's left tackle this season, and he's an athlete. Cornerback Cameron Dantzler (89) ran slow at the combine, but Minnesota got good value in the third round. And again, let Zimmer get a chance to work with him.
Defensive tackle James Lynch (130) is a high-motor guy with some upside, while end D.J. Wonnum (117) should rotate in as a rookie. Safety Josh Metellus (205) and defensive end Kenny Willekes (225) are good values late in Day 3. It's going to be tough for all 15 of these picks to make the Vikings [roster], but I like the selections in the first two days and the depth on Day 3.
Click here for Kiper's full grades.
PFF Staff, Pro Football Focus
Day 2: "Tackle wasn't necessarily the biggest weakness on this team, but [selecting Ezra Cleveland] does give them some flexibility at the position and allow the line as a whole to creep back to, or even above, average going forward. Cleveland is a pick for the future but could potentially make an impact right away. … "[Cam Dantzler's] slight frame will be a concern and was what caused him to slip as far as he did, but at some point, you need to trust the tape. Dantzler's tape is as strong as any corner in this class outside of Jeffrey Okudah — to snag him as low as they did represents a relatively low risk with a potentially huge payoff." – Sam Monson
Click here to view PFF's breakdown of all three days and evaluation of each team's draft.
Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire
Trading Stefon Diggs to Buffalo and losing most of their cornerbacks in free agency made the Vikings draft needs very clear, and they addressed both very well in the first round. Justin Jefferson was LSU's top slot receiver last season, but he can be more than that in a pro passing game. He doesn't quite have the pure explosion Diggs provided, but he caught 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. And TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney is an ideal man and match cornerback with his outstanding footwork, spatial awareness and trail speed. To serve as Gladney's potential future bookend, Minnesota also grabbed Mississippi State's Cameron Dantzler, a favorite of most analysts, including this one. The guy to watch from the third day is fourth-round linebacker Troy Dye from Oregon. [Vikings Head Coach] Mike Zimmer values linebackers who can cover half the field, and Dye has that skill set all day. The Vikings held steady at receiver, and they upgraded a cornerback rotation that [struggled] in 2019.
Click here for Farrar's full grades.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
Best Pick: Second-round offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland was a player I thought the Vikings would take in the first round. To get him in the second round is big-time value. He will be a long-time starter.
The Skinny: The Vikings had 15 picks in this draft and did a nice job of using most of them. Rick Spielman knows how to use the draft to get what he needs. First-round receiver Justin Jefferson fills an immediate need and Gladney could be a star if he stays focused. Keep an eye on fourth-round linebacker Troy Dye, who can fly.
Click here for Prisco's full grades.
Andy Benoit, Monday Morning Quarterback
Grade: A –
This was a workmanlike job by the Vikings, filling their roster's myriad of holes one by one. … At first glance, Jefferson may not seem like an ideal style of replacement [for Diggs]. At LSU, 109 of his 111 catches came from the slot. The Vikings, however, often play with just two wide receivers on the field (which usually means no slot position to fill) and likely see Justin Jefferson as an outside weapon. The [6-foot-1], 202-pounder played with polish and a sound sense of tempo in LSU's offense and should transition effectively to a new role in a Vikings scheme that will make heavy use of in-breaking routes off play-action.
Mike Zimmer historically prefers to develop cornerbacks from the bench in Year One, but with so few quality corners on the roster, don't be surprised if Gladney starts in 2020 — perhaps in a nickel slot role, which plays to his skill set. Zimmer's corners are always sound tacklers. That, and blitzing, were two things Gladney did well at TCU. It's possible Dantzler could see significant playing time in 2020, as well. Ideally, though, he'll follow the traditional Zimmer route and develop from the bench early on, as his game needs some polish. Best-case scenario in 2020 is he plays outside in nickel situations, where he is physical and competitive.
Click here for Benoit's full grades.
Eric Edholm, YAHOO! Sports
Grade: B +
This class was like Rod Carew batting practice: one sharp line drive after another. In time there might be a discussion about the wisdom of the largest draft class in recent memory (15 picks!), especially given that they already own 10 picks in 2021 and could receive more in compensatory selections. … They landed talent and value throughout and left nary a stone unturned. [This is] a cast of middle- and upper-middle-class performers who give this roster some nice reinforcements at several positions — especially those that were considered needs.
Click here for Edholm's full grades.
Thor Nystrom, Rotoworld
Grade: A +
This is how it's done, folks. Rick Spielman badly needed a strong draft with his team in transition, and he enjoyed a banner three-day process. Things were going so well for the Vikings that Mike Zimmer's hunting lodge became a secondary star of the telecast. By my chart, the Vikes walked away from this draft with three first-round values, a second-rounder, two thirds, three fifths and a seventh. That they all happened to be awesome scheme fits at positions of need? Quarantine looked good on Minny.
Mark Maske, The Washington Post
Grade: B +
The Vikings clearly believe in quantity, stockpiling third-day picks and ending up with an immense draft class of 15 players. That's a bit unwieldy for roster management, and perhaps they should have traded up a few times. Even so, it's easy to like what they did early, using their first-round picks on WR Justin Jefferson and CB Jeff Gladney, then getting T Ezra Cleveland in the second round rather than trading for [Redskins tackle Trent] Williams.
Click here for Maske's full grades.
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News
Grade: A +
Congratulations to Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer. Not only did the Vikings maneuver to gain insane volume ( picks), they also knew they exactly what to do with them. They got their wideout to replace Stefon Diggs and corners to replace Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander. In true Zimmer fashion, they also reinforced their defensive front seven nicely and had room to get a potential left tackle of the near future. That's incredible.
Click here for Iyer's full grades.