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Lunchbreak: ESPN Tabs Vikings 2020 Draft Class in Top 10

The countdown is on to the 2021 NFL Draft, as the seven-round spectacle is scheduled for April 29 to May 1.

The Vikings currently have 10 picks at their disposal (not including compensatory picks), including the 14th overall selection.

And while that seems like a haul, keep in mind that Minnesota ended up with 15 total picks in 2020, which was a seven-round record for any team.

With the 2020 season nearly complete, ESPN recently took another look at how each team's draft class fared in its first season in the league.

ESPN, which partnered with analytics website Pro Football Focus to compile the rankings, had the Vikings with the No. 7 overall class.

The star of Minnesota's rookie class is wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who was also the first of the 15 picks at No. 22 overall.

ESPN wrote:

While Jefferson was a first-round pick, no one quite expected him to end up as the best-performing rookie of the 2020 class. He finished the regular season with an elite 90.5 receiving grade that trailed only Davante Adams for the best in the NFL and was just shy of the rookie record set by Odell Beckham, Jr., in 2014 (91.2).

Jefferson proved to be a standout right away, catching 88 passes for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns. He set a Super Bowl-era record for the most receiving yards by a rookie, a stat that also surpassed Randy Moss' rookie yardage record.

The 21-year-old was the league's only offensive rookie named to the 2021 Pro Bowl.

ESPN noted that Minnesota's best value pick came in the third round with cornerback Cameron Dantzler.

Dantzler, like every rookie corner, endured a bit of a roller-coaster season but still provided more high-end play than any other rookie corner this year. Dantzler's Week 13 performance against Jacksonville and his Week 15 showing against Chicago were the two best single-game PFF grades we saw from a rookie corner this year.

Dantzler played in 11 games with 10 starts in 2020, recording a pair of interceptions with a forced fumble and fumble recovery.

Other contributors from Minnesota's rookie class include first-round cornerback Jeff Gladney, who played 958 defensive snaps (89.2 percent) and made 15 starts.

Second-rounder Ezra Cleveland started nine games at right guard, while the a trio of fourth-round picks — D.J. Wonnum, James Lynch and Troy Dye — all contributed on both defense and special teams. Kendricks is Vikings under-the-radar stud

It was another strong season for Eric Kendricks, even if he did miss the final five games of 2020 with a calf injury.

Perhaps the best and most consistent player on Minnesota's defense this past season, Kendricks was likely on his way to another Pro Bowl (and All-Pro) season through 11 games.

And even though Kendricks didn't garner the same honors he did in 2019, Nick Shook of recently included the Vikings linebacker among his list of NFC players who are under-the-radar studs.

Shook wrote:

In 2019, Kendricks was named a first-team All-Pro and made his first Pro Bowl. In 2020, Kendricks was blanked in both categories as part of a Vikings team that underachieved — but that doesn't mean Kendricks disappointed. The linebacker was again stellar, allowing a passer rating as the nearest defender of just 53.9, the second best rate among all linebackers with a minimum of 20 targets. His -8.1 targeted EPA was the 10th best among linebackers, and he added 107 tackles (four for loss), six passes defended and three interceptions.

His ball-hawk rate (the percentage of targets where the nearest defender made a play on the football) of 16.2 percent landed him fifth among all linebackers — in other words, he embodied the ideal, complete linebacker any team would want. Had Minnesota performed better during a 7-9 season, Kendricks likely would've received too much attention to make this list. But, hey, silver linings.

Kendricks' stellar pass coverage was a key reason why the Vikings led the NFL in interceptions by linebackers.

Kendricks and Eric Wilson had three interceptions apiece, and Hardy Nickerson added one for a total of seven picks.