EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings front office did months and months of homework in preparation for its biggest exam of the year.
And when it came time for the 2016 NFL Draft, many had the Vikings near the top of the class.
Minnesota selected eight players in this past weekend's draft, four coming on offense and four being used on defensive players.
It was all in an effort to help improve a roster that was already in good shape as the Vikings are attempting to follow an 11-5 season by defending their NFC North crown.
Here are the grades eight experts handed out to the Vikings for their recent performance:
Draft Grade: A
Lindsay H. Jones gave the Vikings rave reviews as the Vikings were just one of two teams to earn an 'A' from the writer.
Analysis:It's hard to find fault with any of the early draft picks. Mississippi WR Laquon Treadwell fills a need on offense and should be a nice complement to Stefon Diggs, while Clemson CB Mackensie Alexander could contribute immediately in nickel packages. The most surprising pick came Saturday afternoon in German WR Moritz Boehringer, who is the first European player drafted into the NFL without playing in the NCAA.
Draft Grade: A
Chad Reuter liked Minnesota’s 2016 picks but also noted the trade that netted them two of Miami's selections next year was an important move.
Analysis:General manager Rick Spielman got the most physical receiver in the draft in Treadwell. There's no reason he won't be a to-go guy for Teddy Bridgewater. Alexander is an excellent defender, even without the turnover production. Then Spielman picked up two 2017 mid-round selections from Miami. That's building draft capital. Spielman found quality players in [Willie] Beavers, [Kentrell] Brothers, [Stepen] Weatherly, and [David] Morgan. [Jayron] Kearse was worth a shot in the seventh round. Boehringer's upside is highly intriguing.
Draft Grade: A-
Dan Kadar praised the Vikings first two selections and said Treadwell was the best receiver in the draft. He also noted Minnesota’s late-round picks could surprise some people.
Analysis:Laquon Treadwell is a big and physical receiver who can be a top target for Teddy Bridgewater. Getting the draft's best wide out even though he was the third one picked was a coup. They got another steal in the second round with Alexander. He can be a Jason Verrett-like corner for the Vikings. Brothers is a thumper of a middle linebacker who can make a ton of tackles, assuming he gets on the field. Boehringer is interesting because of his size and athleticism. Frankly, I know about him as much as you do. Stephen Weatherly was a sneaky good seventh-round pick. He's a size and athleticism prospect for Mike Zimmer to mold.
Draft Grade: A-
Rob Rang said the Vikings made all the right moves during the draft, bringing in players who fit their system and can thrive under the coaching staff.
Analysis:Full disclosure: Laquon Treadwell was my top-rated wideout entering the draft (and all year long) and his insertion into an offense that will feed him the ball while surrounded by exciting talent only reinforces my appreciation of his game. Strong, competitive and a better athlete than most give him credit for (perhaps due to his 4.65 time in the 40-yard dash), Treadwell will prove a star at split end in Norv Turner's offense.* *
Mackensie Alexander needs some polish, but who better to do it than Mike Zimmer? Alexander will prove a steal at No. 54 overall. Fourth-round pick Willie Beavers played left tackle at Western Michigan but projects best inside and, while athletic and possessing legitimate size for this role at 6-foot-5 and 321 pounds, is understandably a bit of a project.
Gambling on athletic upside was a theme for Minnesota throughout Day 3 with lottery tickets spent on former German league standout Moritz Boehringer, Vanderbilt edge rusher Stephen Weatherly and Clemson safety Jayron Kearse, the nephew of "The Freak" Jevon Kearse.
Draft Grade: A-, B
The website only graded Minnesota's first two selections but still gave the Vikings solid marks. Minnesota's pick of Treadwell received an 'A-' while the Vikings were given a 'B ' for nabbing Alexander.
Analysis (Treadwell):This makes too much sense. Teddy Bridgewater doesn't need a deep threat — he needs a chain mover, and a physical one, such as Treadwell. This is an inspired choice that could reshape the Vikings' offense. He'll be a great No. 1 option in the red zone and is also the best blocking receiver in the draft by a mile. A great choice at this point of the draft.
Analysis (Alexander):Seeing him fall out of Round 1 was not stunning, but this is a bit farther than imagined. This is interesting because the Vikings have two big corners on the outside, and Alexander hasn't played a lot in the slot. Another thing: ball skills. The next interception he gets will be his first since high school. But he's a highly confident, physical corner who will support the run and get in receivers' faces, no matter the size. Mike Zimmer could get the best out of him.
Draft Grade: B
Doug Farrar liked what the Vikings did, noting the talent of Treadwell and Alexander. He also said the selection of Boehringer was more than a feel good story.
Analysis:The addition of Laquon Treadwell in the first round gives Teddy Briddgewater the kind of big, aggressive receiver he hasn't yet had with his NFL team. … And second-round cornerback Mackensie Alexander is a great value with the ability to play outside and in the slot. Of course, the big story of the Vikings' class is the [sixth]-round selection of Moritz Boehringer, who previously played with the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns of the German Football League. Boehringer, who's the first draft pick to come from straight out of Europe, got into football a few years back after watching new teammate Adrian Peterson on YouTube. He has the base athleticism to make it in the NFL, and now comes the task of learning advanced routes and dealing with NFL competition. Western Michigan tackle Willie Beavers could also be a standout in this class in time. Like T.J. Clemmings, last year's developmental offensive lineman, Beavers has a lot of talent, and a lot of learning to do. Also, keep an eye on Vanderbilt end Stephen Weatherly.
Draft Grade: B-
Mel Kiper Jr. noted that the Vikings had "a pretty good draft," and was especially high on the fifth-round pick of linebacker Kentrell Brothers.
Analysis:The Vikings absolutely had to get a wide receiver in this draft, another weapon to take pressure of Stefon Diggs, who is a talent but not exactly an established veteran. Laquon Treadwell was my No. 17 overall player and the Vikes got him at No. 23, so I'm a fan of the value. I also think he's more of the big, strong-handed, possession receiver Teddy Bridgewater needs. What'll be interesting is seeing what the three other wide receivers drafted before him end up doing. You can make a case for almost any of them as the best for one reason or another.* *
I'm less of a Mackensie Alexander fan than other analysts because of poor ball skills (zero career interceptions), but he's a good fit here at a need position, where Terence Newman is 38. I think Willie Beavers in Round 4 works for value and my guess is he goes to guard from tackle. Kentrell Brothers is a total steal for me. The guy is a tackling machine and is great depth for them at linebacker. He's a future starter. Moritz Boehringer is a great story with good size, but that's a long incubation process to get him on the field. Extreme leap in competition from the German league he was in. They have a need at safety, and Jayron Kearse has a chance to stick on the roster to help out. A pretty good draft, with Treadwell's early impact an important part of the equation for 2016.
Go behind-the-scenes with these exclusive photos of Laquon Treadwell arriving at Winter Park and visiting U.S. Bank Stadium.
Draft Grade: C
Peter Schrager gave the Vikings the lowest grade in his report as Minnesota was one of three teams to receive a 'C'. Schrager disagreed with many of the Vikings picks throughout the draft.
Analysis:I'm not nearly as high on Laquon Treadwell as others and actually think the Vikings were probably a little frustrated to see the run on receivers right before them in the draft. Treadwell could work well alongside Stefon Diggs, but I'm not sure he was worthy of the 23rd overall pick when there may have been some value had the team looked to trade back a few slots. I'm also not as high on Mackensie Alexander, the second-round cornerback who didn't record a single interception during his college career. Moritz Boehringer, the German project, was a cute story. But is he helping you get over the hump next year? Then again, if any coach can get the most of his players, it's Mike Zimmer.