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Vikings 2023 Draft Report Card: Experts Say ABCs

Reese's Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy may have issued the best grade of any NFL expert.

Nagy, who spent 18 seasons in NFL personnel departments and helped teams win four Super Bowls, tweeted a gigantic I for incomplete.

It's a reminder that draft classes need time to be completely evaluated with a full picture.

We're also in an instant analysis world on the web.

With that in mind, here are grades from 18 experts around the NFL world about Minnesota's 2023 draft class, which included the following six players:

Round 1, 23rd overall: Jordan Addison, WR, USC

Round 3, 102nd overall: Mekhi Blackmon, CB, USC

Round 4, 134th overall: Jay Ward, DB, LSU

Round 5, 141st overall: Jaquelin Roy, DL, LSU

Round 5, 164th overall: Jaren Hall, QB, BYU

Round 7, 222nd overall: DeWayne McBride, RB, UAB

Chad Reuter,

Overall Grade: A-

Day 1: A

Day 2: B+

Day 3: A

Analysis: 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.

Click here for Reuter's full grades.

ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr.

Overall Grade: B

Analysis: 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.

Click here for Kiper's full grades.

View college action photos of every Vikings pick from the 2023 NFL Draft.

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News

Overall Grade: B+ (ranked 15/32)

Analysis: 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.

Click here for Iyer's full grades.

Nate Davis, USA TODAY

Overall Grade: B (ranked 13/32)

Analysis: 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.

Click here for Davis' full grades.

Dane Brugler, The Athletic

Note: Brugler posted draft class rankings instead of grades.

Ranking: 31 out of 32

Favorite pick: Addison

"One of the best wide receivers in this class, Addison has the twitched-up athleticism and dynamic route-running skills to be a true three-level threat. He is undersized and will need to prove he has the physicality to match NFL defensive backs, but his ball skills improved each season in college. Whether he lines up inside or outside, Addison's presence will only help make Justin Jefferson more dangerous."

Day 3 pick who could surprise: McBride

"It is never a good sign when a running back has more career fumbles than catches in college, but McBride is still a really unique talent with some of the most fun tape in this running back class. His contact balance is special, and he could have easily went in the top-100 picks. However, some of the question marks created doubt with teams and dropped him to the final round. But the talent isn't a concern."

Click here for Brugler's full rankings.

View photos of WR Jordan Addison's first day in Minnesota after being drafted by the Vikings in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Scott Dochterman, The Athletic

Note: Dochterman issued grades for the usage of each pick from Rounds 1-3 and then one grade for Rounds 4-7.

Grade for Addison pick: C

Analysis: With only five overall picks, a tough salary cap situation and the 31st-ranked defense, the Vikings seemed set to improve that side of the ball. Or, with quarterback Kirk Cousins under contract for only one more year, Minnesota could have selected his replacement. Instead, the Vikings chose a prolific receiver in Addison to combine with Justin Jefferson and take their chances.

In some ways, it's understandable. In two seasons, Addison (5-11, 173) caught passes from first-round quarterback Kenny Pickett at Pitt, then from Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams at USC. In 2021, Addison was a first-team All-American and Biletnikoff Award winner with 100 catches for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns for the ACC champion Panthers. Then, in a move that garnered plenty of attention, Addison entered the transfer portal and ended up at USC.

He's the only three-year receiver in the draft with more than 3,000 career receiving yards. Most of his targets — 57.8 percent, according to Brugler — came within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Addison played more outside snaps in 2022 but was primarily a slot receiver over his career.

The Vikings offense gets more explosive with this move, but it comes at the risk of exposing an already challenged defense.

Click here for Dochterman's grades for Round 1.

Grade for Blackmon pick: B-

Analysis: The Vikings entered the draft with only five selections and worked the third round to their favor by trading down and ending up with a quality cornerback in Blackmon (5-11 178). Last season he was a First-Team All-Pac-12 corner with 15 passes defensed, three interceptions and 66 tackles. He has good speed (4.47 in the 40) and has decent strength (11 reps of 225 in the bench press) but needs to avoid penalties (five pass interference calls).

But Minnesota needs defensive backs for the No. 31-ranked defense, and Blackmon has the capability to play right away.

Click here for Dochterman's grades for picks in Rounds 2-3.

Grade for picks made in Rounds 4-7: B+

Analysis: If nothing else, it was an A for effort. The Vikings had needs throughout their defense and addressed them the best they could. In defensive back Jay Ward (fourth round) and defensive tackle Jaquelin Roy (fifth), the Vikings picked up physical defenders capable of making an early impact. BYU quarterback Jaren Hall can be a solid backup for a long time, and UAB running back DeWayne McBride provided tremendous value in the seventh. The Vikings just needed a few more picks.

Click here for Dochterman's full grades for Rounds 4-7.

View photos from inside the Thomson Reuters Vikings Draft Room during the 2023 NFL Draft.

Gilberto Manzano, Sports Illustrated

Overall Grade: B

Analysis: 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 skill set 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' backup, and maybe as a potential replacement.

Click here for the full grades by Manzano and Matt Verderame.

Pete Prisco,

Overall Grade: C-

Best Pick: It's first-round receiver Jordan Addison. I think he was the best receiver in this class, so they got value after three others were taken before him. He will be a nice 1-2 complement to Justin Jefferson.

Worst Pick: I didn't like the pick of USC corner Mekhi Blackmon in the third round. There were a lot better options on the board when they picked Blackmon, even though corner is a major need.

The Skinny: After Addison, I didn't love their draft. I do like fifth-round defensive tackle Jacquelin Roy from LSU. He has talent and he's strong. Seventh-round running back DeWayne McBride was on my Better-Than team, so I like him. He does have some health issues and he doesn't catch the football.

Click here for Prisco's full grades.

View photos WR Jordan Addison being selected as the Vikings 2023 first round draft pick in Kansas City.

Chris Trapasso,

Overall Grade: B

Analysis: Kwesi Adofo-Mensah pieced together a fine small class for the Vikings. Addison as the instant No. 2 wideout will work in Justin Jefferson's offense, and Blackmon was a favorite, natural ballhawk and sticky coverage type in the class. Ward and Roy were grabbed too early but were sensible position selections for Minnesota, and I liked Hall late. I loved McBride in Round 7. He can outperform Alexander Mattison early.

Click here for Trapasso's full grades.

Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire (USA TODAY)

Overall Grade: B

Analysis: Kudos to the Vikings for addressing their most prominent need with two cornerbacks in the second day of the draft, but the real star of this group is Addison, the best pure route-runner in this class. Pairing him with Justin Jefferson will tie opposing cornerbacks in knots. Mekhi Blackmon is an underrated defender who allowed an opponent passer rating of 46.1 last season, and while Jay Ward needs more finishing work, it's good to see progress at a position in need of legitimate island guys — because when Brian Flores is your defensive coordinator, you're going to play on islands.

I'm not sure how Jaquelin Roy lasted until the fifth round — his tape seemed more like second- or third-round stuff to me — and if UAB running back DeWayne McBride can solve his fumbling issues, his speed and contact balance will win out impressively.

Click here for Farrar's full grades.

View photos of Vikings WR Jordan Addison posing for photos after he was drafted in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Pro Football Focus

Overall Grade: B-

Analysis: 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 percent 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.

Click here for PFF's full grades.

Mark Maske, Washington Post

Overall Grade: B-

Analysis: The Vikings closed an opening-round run of four straight wide receivers by taking Jordan Addison at No. 23. That was well done; they needed a complement to Justin Jefferson. The fifth-round selection of QB Jaren Hall is intriguing, with some trade speculation about Kirk Cousins.

Click here for Maske's full grades.

Chinmay Vaidya, DraftKings Nation

Overall Grade: C+

Analysis: Maybe this grade is a bit harsh for Minnesota, since the Vikings did address the second receiver position by taking Addison. Using a fifth-round pick on a project quarterback is not the way to push Kirk Cousins, who remains a concern when the games start mattering more. The Vikings largely stayed put with their roster, which might have been disappointing for fans to see.

Click here for Vaidya's full breakdown.

Steven Cheah of Barstool Sports

Overall Grade: B

Analysis: USC WR Jordan Addison was a good pick that fit a need, but he was also the fourth WR taken in the run on receivers. They had a glaring need at cornerback and took USC CB Mekhi Blackmon and LSU CB Jay Ward. UAB RB Dewayne McBride was good value in the seventh round if he can hold onto the ball consistently.

Click here for Cheah's full grades.

Tim Bielik,

Overall Grade: B

Analysis: The Vikings made their first pick count by getting WR Jordan Addison, who should immediately step in as the second receiver and take some pressure off of Justin Jefferson. DT Jaquelin Roy in the fifth round was a better player in 2021 than in 2022. The rest of the draft they had was OK.

Click here for Bielik's full grades.

View photos of the 15 undrafted free agents the Vikings have agreed to terms with following the 2023 NFL Draft.

Jeff Diamond, The 33rd Team

Note: Diamond is a former executive with the Vikings and Titans.

Overall Grade: B+

Analysis: Addison is a top receiver who was the Biletnikoff Award winner at Pittsburgh in 2021 before transferring to USC, and he had 25 TD receptions over the past two seasons. He is an elite route runner with great hands who can play in the slot or outside. He will take some pressure off Justin Jefferson as another option for Coach Kevin O'Connell and QB Kirk Cousins in the team's three-receiver base offense after the departure of Adam Thielen. Addison is not a burner, but neither were Hall of Fame receivers Jerry Rice and Cris Carter among others.

The Minnesota Vikings corner situation is a concern for last year's 31st-ranked pass defense, and there were several departures in free agency. Blackmon is a good third-round value at corner due to his movement and ball skills plus instinctive play. Ward is a tough hitter who can play nickel or safety and has kick-blocking ability. It was a good trade-up to the fifth round to get Roy, who is an ascending player as an interior D-lineman and fills a need. Hall will be developed as a potential dual-threat QB, and McBride is a talented seventh-round back.

Click here for Diamond's full grades.

theScore Staff

Overall Grade: C-

Analysis: Minnesota had to come away from this draft with a running mate for Justin Jefferson, and Addison was always one of the more intriguing options to fill that need. A dynamic playmaker who dominated at both Pitt and USC, he should be a natural fit working alongside the NFL's premier pass-catcher. The Vikings mid-round picks didn't yield the most exciting returns, but keep an eye on Hall as Kirk Cousins heads into the last year of his contract. The BYU product is a talented passer who can also make plays with his legs. While he likely projects as a backup, there's some starter upside there.

Ian Cummings, Pro Football Network

Note: Cummings issued grades for each pick instead of an overall team grade.

Addison pick: B

Blackmon pick: D

Ward pick: A

Roy pick: B-

Hall pick: A

McBride pick: B

Click here for Cummings' full analysis of each pick.