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Monday Morning Mailbag: Final Strategy as 2024 NFL Draft Arrives; Well-Deserved Recognition for Scott Studwell

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Happy draft week, everyone.

After months of mocks, piles of predictions and streams of speculations, the anticipation is almost over.

Minnesota enters 2024 NFL Draft Week with nine selections, including the 11th and 23rd overall picks, and fans are geared up for the third draft for Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Head Coach Kevin O'Connell.

The Miller Lite Vikings Draft Party (April 25 at U.S. Bank Stadium) reached sell-out status, so it should be quite a festive atmosphere this week.

Before we get to fans' questions, I'd like to congratulate this year's Minnesota Football Honors award winners. Recipients gathered on April 14 at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center for a program led by the Minnesota Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.


Vikings Ring of Honor linebacker Scott Studwell was presented the Bud Grant Distinguished Minnesotan Award. Studwell grew up in Southern Indiana and played college football at Illinois before he was drafted in the ninth round of the 1977 NFL Draft.

That selection began Studwell's relationship with the Hall of Fame head coach that lasted until Grant passed away in March 2023 at the age of 95 and launched a 42-year run with the Vikings by Studwell, who played from 1977-90, setting multiple franchise tackling records before transitioning to a successful career in the personnel department.

Studwell participated in an interview that was recorded and will air this summer (scheduling will be determined) and was asked about his relationship with Bud.

"It's hard to find words that really define Bud because he was such an incredible person," Studwell said. "He was wise beyond his years. He was terrifying at times. He was a friend at times. He was always the coach. You always knew where you stood with Bud, and he's obviously an icon for the state of Minnesota and the Minnesota Vikings. I was just so privileged to call him my friend, to have played for him as long as I did. He's a remarkable person."

Having seen highlights from Studwell's playing days and hearing him say "terrifying" made me smile a little because I could see how Studwell may have been similarly described in his pads. But those fortunate enough to get to know Studwell (including myself in the lucky grouping) know how kind he is.

Asked to share a story from his playing days, Studwell revisited one that some have heard Mark Rosen tell from Studwell's first Vikings training camp in Mankato.

"[Grant] was always running the scout team, so I was standing over on the side, getting ready to go in and take reps," Studwell said. "He came over to me, and there was a Monarch butterfly that flew up over our head. He started telling me about how the migration of this Monarch butterfly takes place. I'm like, 'What the hell? I'm here trying to make this football team, and you're telling me about this Monarch butterfly,' and I really didn't care, but I had to sound interested or seem interested, but that's the kind of guy he was.

"He was a very complex, multifaceted person," Studwell added. "He had his way with people, and if somebody said a bad thing about Bud, I'm going to blame it on them."

In addition to Studwell, the following people received awards through this year's Minnesota Football Honors program:

John Gagliardi Legacy Award: Becker High School Head Coach Dwight Lundeen

Sid Hartman Media Award: KSTP’s Joe Schmit

Stein-Fallon College Scholar-Athlete: St. Thomas DB Johnson Fallah

Congrats to this year's winners and thank you to everyone at the Minnesota Chapter of the NFF for all they do to promote football.

Now, for the questions.

I believe Kwesi has put the Vikings in position to attack the draft from various angles. If the team loves "a" quarterback projected to go in the top 7 picks, he will attempt to move up — at his price, which I don't believe will include a future No. 1 pick. If that does not come to fruition, I believe he will balance BPA (best player available) against their next possible option at QB. If that involves moving down from the No. 11 pick, so be it. I feel the League will have to compensate the Vikings in the draft based on the verified tampering done by the Falcons. There virtually is no way they could not, based on previous tampering cases and how the league addressed them! The League's ruling could have a huge impact on what options are available to the Vikings in Round 1. Kwesi has added some impactful players in free agency. I believe he's looking to add at least two impactful players (2024 season) not including a QB. Drafting a QB is a move for the future. Selecting two additional picks that can have an impact immediately, will only serve to aid the future QB's success. This draft is top heavy at a couple of positions that the Vikings need to bolster. That is why I don't think Kwesi is going to mortgage the future on a QB that has less than a 50-percent chance of developing into a franchise player.

— Dale Kruse in Decorah, Iowa

Quite a bit covered by Dale to start us off this week, and I think he's been following what Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell have been saying on the way to the draft.

They have touted flexibility gained by adding the 23rd overall pick if they chose to move up the board, but they also can be disciplined in setting a walk-away price.

They haven't really commented on Cousins' proceedings with Atlanta during free agency. I'll follow their lead, which is following the NFL's lead, on that.

The Vikings were incredibly active in free agency, adding talent and depth at multiple positions, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, but there's still opportunities to improve the roster with players as early as this year or beyond.

If a move is made for a quarterback that involves a trade, but the Vikings opt to open the season with Sam Darnold, then it will likely be a case of trying to improve the roster in the long-term and going with the best chance to win while continuing to develop everyone in the quarterbacks room.

Are the Vikings still in line for a third-round compensatory pick due to Cousins signing with Atlanta? If so, would that occur in 2024 or 2025? Is there still a possibility for an additional third-round comp pick, and if so, which year?

— Paul Ryals in Stanchfield, Minnesota

According to projections from the fine folks at, Minnesota is still in line to be awarded a compensatory selection (third round in 2025) to offset the departure of Cousins in free agency. The site put together "cancellation charts" for every team to project the picks for 2025 that can be viewed here. These are projections, and things can continue to change, depending on activity with other free agents who could be signed after the draft.

I've been mock drafting in my head for a couple of weeks now. I have an all-in scenario I'd like your opinion on.

The Vikings trade the No. 11, 23 and if need be, next year's No. 1 to New England to get them to move off the No. 3. I think they bite. I know it's jumping in with both feet, but hey, we get our choice of [Drake] Maye or [J.J.] McCarthy and our QB of the future.

I'm not done. Now we trade Justin Jefferson (man, I hate the thought of this) to the Arizona Cardinals for the No. 4 pick. The Cardinals are looking to draft a WR anyway. We may even get another pick with the No. 4. Now we take Marvin Harrison, Jr., and reset the QB and the WR salary. Saving $180 million with Cousins and probably $140 million on Jefferson. Not sure what kind of number that gives us in cap space for 2025, but it's gotta be north of $150 million. This scenario gives us four years to sign any FA we choose to and build a roster that gets us back to the dance.

— Mike McGee in Belvidere, Illinois

Packaging multiple first-round selections would be jumping in with both feet. That Vikings-Patriots scenario matches some that have been proposed in mock drafts that have been published (we'll have our seventh and final Mock Draft Tracker of 2024 posted tomorrow). Last week, there was one on ESPN that involved sending Jefferson to the Patriots.

The Vikings, again, have said they envision Jefferson being with the team for years to come. I don't think that's trying to inflate any prospective offers. I also understand how some would lean toward trying to capitalize on a strong rookie receiver class instead of the substantial financial commitment Jefferson has earned.

I've already referenced once today, but I'll also link to this projection for 2025 salary cap space for all teams and has the Vikings at $102M, which is likely to change if the Vikings re-sign Jefferson but should still be substantial enough for Minnesota to be active in free agency next year.

One of the reasons (but not the only) for Minnesota being declared a top landing spot for a young QB is Jefferson, along with Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson as receiving options, and even though this year's class of receivers is highly touted again, Jefferson is a unique talent.

I was reading [last week's] Mailbag, and the person that mentioned drafting Marvin Harrison, Jr., was also a thought. This means we would have to ride with Sam Darnold for the season. However if the fairytale of the league swapping draft order with the Falcons for tampering we could at least get [Malik Nabers] without giving up selection 23. Hopefully [Bo] Nix is still available. However a no-risk draft would be [Michael] Penix, Jr., at 8 or 11 and a defensive player like Chop Robinson or Byron Murphy II at 23. New idea is give up a fourth-round selection to move from 23 to 20. Thanks again for listening to our madness.

What if after we select Penix, Jr., at 11, we select [Brian] Thomas at 23 or trade back no further than 27 and take [Xavier] Worthy. We do need someone to replace K.J. Osborn. Thanks for listening.

— Rodger Wilmore in Sacramento, California (fan since 1965)

Under the presumption of Jefferson, Addison and Hockenson being together for multiple seasons, it seems like there could be other priorities for the Vikings (instead of a receiver) in the first round. The Vikings were able to select Osborn in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. After a year of not playing offense, he really blossomed. Minnesota did bring back Brandon Powell, who answered the bell with increased opportunities last year and also has 2022 pick Jalen Nailor, whose second season was derailed by multiple injuries.

There's probably quite a few people out there who would be happy if the Vikings could somehow add a QB and a defensive player by retaining both picks.

It's time to either get Jefferson to sign BEFORE the draft, OR (unfortunately) trade him to Arizona or [the L.A. Chargers] for their first-round pick. It's possible that we could even get them to throw in a second- or third-round pick this year for him. We NEED help at many positions, so a Jefferson trade could solve some "other" concerns. For example, get our QB at No. 4 or 5 (w/trade), get our DT at 11, pick up the great depth at WR at 23, and maybe even have a second- or third-round pick for another CB. That sounds MUCH better than giving Arizona or L.A. THREE first-round picks to get a QB.

— Dan at White Bear Lake, Minnesota


In today's NFL, how many teams have both Hall of Fame receivers and quarterbacks? I mean I would trade Justin for a haul of draft picks, and grab quarterback, defensive line, cornerback, and build a team. Trust me, I love Justin, but realistically we can't afford him and others. It takes 53 men to win — some great and some good, but if you look at the salary cap, we can't afford not to trade him and build a Super Bowl team.

— Toby S. in Alaska

I understand if people — whether in White Bear Lake or Alaska — are worried about Jefferson not signing a long-term contract, they'd want to try to trade while current draft capital could be acquired to maximize the return and fill multiple gaps with talented players likely to make quick impacts.

Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes obviously benefited from future Hall of Fame tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce, but so far, it doesn't appear they'll have overlapped with a bevy of HOF receivers. Brady did have Randy Moss in New England (2007-10) and Mike Evans (he's probably got a good case for the Canton conversation) while with Tampa Bay.

To everyone saying to trade J.J., that would be very unwise. One of the biggest advantages a team can have in today's NFL is to have a quarterback on his rookie deal be an absolute stud, and remember that can be for 5 years!!!.

Paying J.J. and taking a shot on a rookie QB with Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson would be worth it. Even if we had to trade away three or even four first round picks.

Next year (2025), the Vikings are slated to have over $100 million in cap space. That's a lot of money to go out and sign some superstars and fill some holes, maybe even convince another big-name QB to come to Minnesota if the coaching staff doesn't like the rookie.

So I say take a shot on the QB you love, regardless of the cost, as long as you love him enough.

— Jesse A. from Cokato, Minnesota

The Vikings have not had that much salary cap space in quite some time. That could leave room for adding proven NFL players through free agency (which does have the financial cost and could impact roster moves elsewhere) instead of relying on having as many selections as possible.

One would hope if a move up the board was made (after two years of study on this group of quarterbacks) that the timeline and circumstances would not place the drafting team in the conversation for free agent QBs next year, even if the development track determined to be best for the player this year is not starting in Week 1.

Gidday from Downunder,

I've been a Vikings tragic for 50 years — in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Time to believe! Coach O'Connell can turn Darnold into the QB everyone thought he could be when he was drafted at No. 3. This is Darnold's big opportunity, too — after a tough few years with little support, then a year sitting behind Mr. Irrelevant (Brock Purdy). The guy has got to be motivated!

Grab two defensive demons with No. 11 and No. 23. Give Brian Flores something to work with.

If they really want to grab a QB in the draft, see if Penix or Nix is available at No. 23, but don't trade away the house to get the fourth-best QB!


— Craig in New Zealand

Thanks for repping the North in the Southern Hemisphere.

I definitely haven't had time to get to know Darnold yet, but he strikes me as highly self-motivated and well-aware of the opportunity here.

He sounded super excited during his introductory press conference and for plenty of good reasons, including what many believe could be the best environment and supporting offensive cast he's had in the NFL.

It's such a juxtaposition to have a player who was selected at No. 3 join a team at a time when so many prospects are highly touted and history telling us that not all the QBs drafted in the first round are likely to have immediate success or even become franchise QBs.

I'm so glad to hear someone with common sense talk about staying with our picks. The last several top QB picks haven't been worth the cost. I'm a fan since 1971 and the only franchise QB we've had was Fran! I also remember the Cowboys fleecing us on the [Herschel] Walker trade, which cost us dearly. Trading two first rounders for any of these QBs isn't worth it, as there are no guarantees. I believe taking a chance on Penix or Nix makes sense on value, experience, football knowledge and the mentoring of both Kevin and Josh [McCown]. Thanks Much for your time. Skol forever!

— Marty G.

A younger colleague was working on a project recently and became more acquainted with the Walker trade. We had a talk about that one, and Adofo-Mensah obviously wasn't involved in that deal, but the way he's talked about the pitfalls of a team thinking it is only one player away means that knowledge was gained and will be applied in his approach to roster building.

It's kind of wild to draft a Hall of Fame quarterback with the third pick in franchise history (in the 1961 NFL Draft) and still be trying to duplicate that result. It's also wild that Minnesota was able to trade Tarkenton for a haul and then bring him back to the Vikings to close his career after building a much better team than what existed in the franchise's first few seasons.

I do think the information that would go into a decision involving a move up would be made because of a conviction in the player being one that Vikings leadership envisions building around for years.

But I also think there's ways leadership can design the team around a couple of different players at the position.

Feeling nervous tension as the draft gets closer. How will it shake out for the Vikes? Will we get our QB, edge rusher or both, OR will we roll the dice on Darnold, whose stats are not that bad. Whatever happens, it will define what our coach and GM are all about and their subsequent future. Like to see them draft a TE or big bodied WR in the third or fourth round.


— Nicholas Balkou

It's a weighty draft, and the Vikings haven't shied away from the importance of this year. Here was an excerpt from Adofo-Mensah's pre-draft press conference on April 11.

"Just because something's risky doesn't mean you have to stay away from it. It's something that is hard to grasp but if you grasp it, you know what the rewards are, right? And that's something you have to weigh and measure. You can't look at these decisions in a vacuum. You know, you look at the whole portfolio of decisions that go around it, the things you have to do. And, you know, you can look at countless examples of other teams who have made decisions, but maybe the decision you thought was going to be the decision, it was the different decision that ended up being right, and the outcomes were good. But it's, you know, look, I think the last couple of years, obviously, it's out there, the results of the quarterbacks that were drafted and different things like that. I think we look at those things and we obviously honor them and respect them, but we also look at the environment. And are we setting the person up to succeed? So, when we talk about these players, it's not just how good are they, it's how do we get the best version of themselves if they come to the Minnesota Vikings? We set up plans before they walk in the building. I think our odds will be better than the margins. How good are those odds? Obviously, it's still a pretty risky thing. But just because something's risky doesn't mean you're scared of it."

Reminder that this year's third-round pick was sent to Detroit as part of the trade for Hockenson. That was another example of a risk, but the Vikings have reaped an agreeable reward for that. After the first round, the next scheduled Vikings pick is at 108 in the fourth round as part of seven Day 3 picks as of right now.

If recent history tells us anything, we can't keep using retreads from other teams. Why don't we try to draft a quarterback, coach him up and shore up our defense. We can't just keep doing the same thing over and over and over again expecting different results. We really blew it when we let Cousins just waltz away with nothing in return. Imagine if we had him for another two years to coach up a guy like Drake Maye? But here we go again…

— Paul Christiansen in Chaska, Minnesota

The Vikings made an offer to bring Cousins back, but the Falcons offered a deal Cousins could not refuse.

Having had Cousins for six years was quite a departure from a couple of decades of Vikings football that usually involved signing veterans in the twilight of their careers, a couple of swings at high picks and a few darts later in drafts.

While it would probably be great for any young QB to learn under Cousins, the structure that the Vikings coaching staff has in place with so much experience at the quarterback position (O'Connell and McCown) lead the way, but Darnold has seen plenty during his career to also be a resource to teammates at the position.

Spencer Sanders is a sleeper after his junior year. I think he probably will not be drafted, but he would be a good choice for the practice team. He is a lot better than people give him credit.

— Eugene A.

For anyone unfamiliar with Sanders, he began his college career at Oklahoma State (2019-22) before transferring to Mississippi for 2023.

Sanders completed 765 of 1,254 passes for 9,553 yards and 67 touchdowns against 40 interceptions for the Cowboys. Last season, he was limited to 19-of-29 passing for 278 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

The Athletic's Dane Brugler ranked 86 quarterbacks and slotted Sanders at 30. I haven't seen his name mentioned much during this cycle, but each NFL team goes through its evaluations and sometimes has differences of opinion.

What can the Vikings do to become Super Bowl contenders, and what are the three main positions they need help on?

— Joe L.


Minimal selections in the early rounds. Again, sure hope we don't trade up on a hope. No. 11, the best defensive player to fill a need. No. 23, trade back for an early second and a third-round selection. Second round, a QB if McCarthy, Nix, Penix, or whoever the brain trust likes. Third round, again the best defensive player available to fill a need. Questions: what specific defensive positions need more depth? Assuming Coach Flores will want to stick around through at least the '25 season to develop the Purple People Eaters v. 2, defensive dynasty, fear or at least very significant concern by every OC. For this season? For the next season? Draft Fever, maybe draft delirium?


— Noel in Bayfield, Wisconsin

Protect the football, protect the football and protect the football.

There's obviously more to it than that, especially with another challenging schedule and a division that's only seemed to get better across the board, but that's an area where the 2024 Vikings can make an immediate improvement over the 2023 group.

The Vikings have been able to add experience at multiple positions, and I'm really looking forward to all that Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores cooks up with more ingredients for his second season with Minnesota. Players are fired up to have Flores back.

The team has had significant changes at edge rusher, with Danielle Hunter, D.J. Wonnum and Marcus Davenport departing in free agency, so the signings of Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel are designed to offset those, but some could see that position as a little thin on depth.

Flores himself said last week that a team can never have enough cornerbacks, so he's probably also been vigilant in assessing that position, even after adding Shaq Griffin against the backdrop of continuing to work with younger corners.

Depending on whether Dalton Risner returns, the Vikings could have a new starter at left guard. Will it be Blake Brandel, who has developed since his selection in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, veteran addition Dan Feeney or someone else?

The other component that Minnesota will likely need to offset early in the season is the production of Hockenson, who is recovering from a torn ACL. Hockenson provided a positive update on his progress last week, but the timeline of suffering that injury on Dec. 24 would be tough to be a full-go by Week 1.

That would be the same turnaround time that Adrian Peterson was able to execute from his torn ACL at Washington on Dec. 24, 2011, to opening his 2012 NFL MVP season with 84 yards and two scores on 17 carries against the Jaguars.

View photos of Vikings players during the first week of offseason workouts at the TCO Performance Center.

My thought with this draft is trade back from 11, acquire more picks, solidifying our OL with best available so our first two first-round picks are OL and use acquired picks to trade back into first with K.C. and draft Penix. Now you would have a beast of an OL to protect a rookie QB for years to come.

— Mike in Olivia, Minnesota


I think you guys should trade our two first-round picks with the Cardinals for the No. 4.

— Brennan in Montgomery, Minnesota

I wanted to group these together since they highlight two different schools of thought.

Regardless of what happens, I'm sure there will be some who will wish a different path had been taken.

Offensive line play is always important to the overall function of a quarterback and offense. Beyond the projections for quarterbacks and the depth at receiver, many draft gurus like the depth and talent among the tackles this year, and there are a couple that are projected to kick inside from tackle to guard.

Has our current GM/administration made one trade that has been deemed a success? And by that, I mean team has received more value than it's given away. I dread the upcoming draft. It becomes clearer and clearer the team will overreach for a QB who will be above average at best. And trading for Hockenson (making him highest-paid TE) instead of having the foresight to draft [Sam] LaPorta, shows you everything you need to know about this group.

— Justin Angeles

I'm not sure why "above average at best" would be the ceiling for a player the team was interested in trading up for, but consistently "above average" can win a lot of NFL games.

I guess deeming a trade a success, depends on each person's opinion.

There's been some out there who have lamented the Hockenson deal as giving up too much.

The Vikings sent a 2023 second-round pick and a 2024 third-round pick to the Lions in exchange for Hockenson and a 2023 fourth-round pick.

Detroit traded that second rounder to Kansas City (Chiefs drafted Rashee Rice at No. 55). Minnesota traded the fourth-rounder to Kansas City (Chiefs drafted Chamarri Conner at 119) in exchange for the pick that was used to add Jay Ward at 134 last year and a fifth-round pick this year.

The other component is when the Hockenson trade was executed (after Irv Smith, Jr., was injured and just before the 2022 trade deadline), Minnesota was 6-1. Hockenson played days after he was acquired and caught 60 passes, helping Minnesota win 13 or more games in a season for just the third time in the history of the franchise.

Waiting until 2023 for LaPorta, who definitely had a strong rookie season, was not going to help the 2022 team that won the NFC North. Unfortunately, that team didn't capitalize in the playoffs, but Hockenson caught 10 passes for 129 yards on 11 targets in that loss to the Giants.

The board fell nicely for the Lions last year. Detroit gained the 34th overall pick used to make LaPorta the second tight end drafted, as well as the selection used on Jahmyr Gibbs at 12 and a fifth-round pick in exchange for sliding down six spots in the first round so Arizona could draft Paris Johnson, Jr., and pick up a third-rounder that was later traded.

In looking back at the last five Vikings drafts, what letter grade would you assign to that effort? What was successful and what turned out to be disappointing?

— Ed Helinski in Auburn, New York

Kind of a complex question to close us out, and I feel like an entire Mailbag could be devoted to recapping the past five drafts. It's rare for a draft to be a complete success, and I think each one should be handled independently from any other because the talent pool (particularly at a team's position of need that year) can differ greatly. Number of selections at the start of the draft, as well as placement in the draft order also can make a big difference.

Independent of all those factors, there's usually a goal of getting a couple of blue-chip players who can contribute immediately and a couple of developmental players who may first be deployed on special teams.

2023: six selections — plus three undrafted free agents who made the team

Addison was tabbed in the first round with the 23rd overall pick, and I think folks feel pretty good about his first season. After that, Minnesota did not select again until 102 when it tabbed Mekhi Blackmon, who wound up appearing in 15 games as a rookie.

Jay Ward contributed on special teams, and Jaquelin Roy worked into the defensive line rotation last season. Jaren Hall looked good in limited action at Atlanta but then struggled against Green Bay. DeWayne McBride did not play as a rookie. Ivan Pace, Jr., made a mark as an undrafted free agent, and NaJee Thompson was impactful on special teams. The third rookie free agent, Andre Carter II, was on the developmental track last season.

After last year's draft, we put together a roundup of report cards from external media. The highest grade was an A- and the lowest grade was a C-. Those marks could continue to evolve based on what happens going forward.

2022: 10 selections

The first three players picked after wheeling and dealing — Lewis Cine, Andrew Booth, Jr., and Ed Ingram — haven't had the impact that a team would hope for from top-60 picks, but Ingram has started all 32 games he's played.

Akayleb Evans had some ups and downs. If he bounces back, then that could alter the group's grade. Ty Chandler is someone the Vikings want to involve more going forward, and Jalen Nailor could be in line for increased opportunities, as well.

Seventh-rounder Nick Muse should get plenty of quality reps while Hockenson is on the mend.

That immediate report card included a wide range from A- all the way to a D and an F.

2021: 11 selections

Minnesota effectively traded down and still landed a great player in Christian Darrisaw, but the payout for doing so (third-round picks used on Kellen Mond and Wyatt Davis that year) did not pan out. Mond, Davis and fellow third-rounder Chazz Surratt already are no longer with the team.

Pat Jones II, Kene Nwangwu and Camryn Bynum remain with Minnesota, but Janarius Robinson, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Zach Davidson and Jaylen Twyman have all moved on. Turnover of picks and the roster can happen when changes are made at the top, and that might have made it easier for Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell to cut bait.

Immediately after that draft, 15 of the 21 grades included in our roundup were B+ or better. A couple of years of hindsight could lower those opinions, but landing a left tackle like Darrisaw and correctly projecting Bynum from playing cornerback to safety (and Nwangwu's impact when he has a chance to return kickoffs) are all things that deserve kudos for former GM Rick Spielman and Head Coach Mike Zimmer.

2020: 15 selections, setting a Vikings record for the most in a seven-round draft

Selecting Jefferson in a pick obtained for trading away Stefon Diggs was a home run for Minnesota, but moving down and picking Jeff Gladney at 31 didn't work. Gladney tragically passed away in 2022 as he was trying to start fresh in Arizona.

Ezra Cleveland, D.J. Wonnum, Troy Dye, K.J. Osborn all were examples of landing picks, and James Lynch could have been lumped with that group a bit more commonly if he hadn't suffered a season-ending injury at camp last year.

Cameron Dantzler, Sr., (third round) and Harrison Hand (fifth) also didn't work out at cornerback, so the use of three picks on cornerbacks and not having one make it through a rookie deal would probably be among the bigger disappointments when evaluating usage of draft capital in the past five years.

The Vikings went for volume in a year where the NFL offseason was completely disrupted. Blake Brandel (203) and Josh Metellus (205) have been successful uses of sixth-round picks, but four seventh-rounders (Kenny Willekes, Nate Stanley, Brian Cole II and Kyle Hinton) made less impact. Willekes was an exciting proposition, but he suffered unfortunate injuries.

I don't know if external experts graded on a pandemic curve or not, but eight of 10 people included issued A- or higher, and the other two doled out went for a B+. I'd say those marks generally checked out for that year.

View photos of the Vikings 2024 coaching staff.

2019: 12 selections

Garrett Bradbury has started all 71 games he's played, but second-rounder Irv Smith, Jr., dealt with injuries that seemed to keep him from ever reaching his full potential. Losing Smith in the 2021 preseason finale after he tore up training camp was a sneaky bad break for Minnesota that year.

Alexander Mattison was solid in backing up Dalvin Cook, but Mattison's first season as a starter didn't go as planned in 2023. Fourth-rounder Dru Samia was another try at guard.

Linebacker Cameron Smith wound up playing only five games, but we're all grateful that a medical screening revealed a previously undetected condition that would have placed Smith at-risk if he continued to play. He retired from football and has become an awesome photographer.

Armon Watts helped on the defensive line's interior, and Olisaemeka Udoh developed into a swing tackle but got hurt early last season. Minnesota tried to sneak Marcus Epps through waivers as it added more experience at safety. The Eagles, however, claimed Epps, who started in Super Bowl LVII as a former sixth-round pick.

Kris Boyd was a stalwart on special teams and really fun for social media content. Bisi Johnson also was looking solid before being lost to an injury at Denver in the 2022 preseason.

Receiver Dillon Mitchell (no games) and long snapper Austin Cutting (25) were unable to shine as the other two seventh-round picks.

We didn't institute report card roundups until the following season.