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Lunchbreak: 3 Vikings Crack ESPN's Top 25 Undrafted Rookies List

The conclusion of the NFL Draft doesn't mean the end of roster activity.

Every year, there's a flurry of action immediately following the draft, as teams work to sign undrafted free agents. And every year, there are some hidden gems unmined during the process.

Will Ragatz of Sports Illustrated delved into ESPN’s list of top 25 UDFAs, and he highlighted the three new Vikings included in the rankings: inside linebacker Ivan Pace, Jr., outside linebacker Andre Carter II and receiver Malik Knowles.

Ragatz called Pace the "biggest standout" in Minnesota's UDFA class, pointing out that ESPN analyst Todd McShay listed him as the second-best player to go undrafted this year. Ragatz wrote:

The Athletic's Dane Brugler gave Pace a fourth-round grade, ranking him as his ninth-best off-ball linebacker. By the analyst consensus board, he should've been a fifth-round pick.


He was PFF's highest-graded linebacker in the country. Pace is notably undersized at 5-foot-10, 231 pounds, making him a bit of a positional "tweener," which is undoubtedly why he went undrafted. He can also get out of position at times by being over-aggressive. Still, Pace has 4.6 speed, good instincts, and a ton of power for his size.

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

Ragatz said that because the Vikings didn't draft a linebacker this year, Pace will have an opportunity to make the roster and maybe even see the field as a rookie.

He'll be competing with Troy Reeder, Troy Dye, and William Kwenkeu for reps behind projected starters Jordan Hicks and Brian Asamoah [II]. If there's a coach who knows how to use a versatile player like Pace, it's new Vikings defensive coordinator and former linebackers coach Brian Flores.

In looking at Carter, Ragatz noted that the consensus board had him at 101, "making him easily the highest-ranked player by that measure to not get drafted." Brugler had projected Carter to be drafted in the fifth or sixth round.

Carter is a 6-foot-6 edge rusher with long arms, good agility, and solid burst off the line. He just needs to bulk up and get stronger; he weighed in at 256 pounds and only managed 11 bench press reps at the combine. With a 6-foot-6 frame, there's room for plenty of additional muscle mass and power. In college, Carter's lack of power hurt him in the run game and prevented him from effectively countering the double-teams he faced last season.

Ragatz said Knowles, who spent five years at Kansas State, is "another player to keep an eye on" throughout the Vikings offseason.

CBS Sports opines Vikings best, worst & most interesting draft picks

Jordan Dajani of CBS Sports recently looked at all 32 teams and talked to colleagues to name teams' best, worst and most interesting picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.

For the Vikings, Pete Prisco called wide receiver Jordan Addison, whom Minnesota drafted 23rd overall, the team's best selection. Prisco wrote:

He is my favorite receiver in this class. He will be a perfect complement to Justin Jefferson. He is a great route runner. Needs to get a little bigger since he weighs 175 pounds, but that will happen.

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.

Chris Trapasso opined that Minnesota's worst pick of the draft was LSU cornerback Jay Ward, who was taken 134th overall.

Trapasso called Ward a "skinny, slot-safety hybrid."

Click-and-close ability is special. Coverage skill a little iffy, because his stiffness appears then. He isn't the most consistent tackler. Versatility is his key attribute.

And as far as most interesting? Dajani spotlighted the Vikings final pick of the draft, UAB running back DeWayne McBride 222nd overall.

According to Dajani, Trapasso called McBride "one of the biggest steals of the draft."