Following the conclusion of the 2017 NFL Draft, a number of analysts and reporters have put out initial draft grades and reactions for each team.
Rob Rang of CBS Sports on Sunday posted a **breakdown of the NFC North** draft weekends and graded each team based on the moves and additions it made. He gave the Vikings a 'B-' grade, tied with the Lions for the highest in the division. Rang wrote:
*The Vikings did not have a first-round pick in 2017 but got a top-32 talent nonetheless, when Florida State running back Dalvin Cook slid to No. 41 overall. *
Head Coach Mike Zimmer has a well-earned reputation for grit, which could make classic Big Ten standouts Pat Elflein (center) and Ben Gedeon (linebacker) immediate favorites of his among this rookie class. Perhaps Zimmer's personality will rub off a bit on Iowa defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson and Day 3 pass-catchers Stacy Coley and Bucky Hodges, who have each flashed exciting playmaking ability but have struggled with consistency over their respective collegiate careers.
Rang gave the Packers a C overall for a draft that added cornerback Kevin King, safety Josh Jones and three running backs to their roster.
The Bears were given the lowest grade of a division, a C-, after they traded their third, 67th and 111th picks in 2017, plus a third-rounder in 2018, to move up one spot and snag quarterback Mitchell Trubisky at No. 2 overall. The move came shortly after signing Mike Glennon as a free agent in March. Chicago later added running back Tarik Cohen and safety Eddie Jackson.
Minnesota's 'best' and 'riskiest' draft move
In a post-draft roundtable that involved reporters for each team, ESPN **rolled out an analysis** of each NFL squad's "best" pick in addition to the "riskiest" move for the team.
Ben Goessling said the Vikings best move was adding Cook.
Few expected Dalvin Cook to still be available with the 41st overall pick, and the Vikings' decision to move up in the second round could add an impressive playmaker to an offense that badly needs one. Cook can contribute as a running back and a receiver, and he'll fit well with Pat Shurmur's West Coast offense, provided he can leave behind the people that caused him to get into some trouble at Florida State.
Goessling didn't necessarily criticize any players the Vikings selected but said that they could have found a spot to draft an offensive tackle.
*Although the tackle position was thin in this draft, it's worth noting that the Vikings didn't take one in the first six rounds, using a fourth-round pick on Michigan linebacker Ben Gedeon instead of a tackle such as Bucknell's Julién Davenport or USC's Zach Banner. The Vikings improved the tackle position in free agency with Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers, but they're an injury away from [using a backup player] again in 2017. *
Early offensive focus in draft will benefit Vikings
The Vikings focused early on offense in this year's draft, using their first two picks to select Cook and Elflein.
While Zimmer is a defensive-minded coach, Chip Scoggins of the *Star Tribune *said the moves Minnesota made offensively will pay off and **help Zimmer reach his goals** for the Vikings – primarily running the ball more effectively. Scoggins wrote:
*The Vikings were the worst rushing team in the NFL last season, finishing last in average yards per game (75.3) and yards per carry (3.2). *
*The Vikings ranked 25th in the NFL last season when they ran the ball on third-and-2 or less, according to ESPN Stats and Information. They converted only 59.1 percent in those situations. *
*The result was Zimmer's defense finished the season on fumes. The defense wore down largely because of the offense's failures, particularly on the ground. *
Scoggins said the NFL has changed and become a "quarterback-driven league," but that a strong running game hasn't lost importance. He wrote that balance – or at least "establishing enough of a threat to prevent becoming predictable" – is key to a team's success.
In addition to likely being a better blocking team with Minnesota bolstering its offensive line this offseason, Scoggins said the running game should be improved.
*The Vikings no longer should feel constrained by an outdated template of relying on a bell-cow running back. Adrian Peterson reached 250 carries six times in his decade with the team, which included two seasons that he essentially missed because of suspension or injury. *
A committee approach with Cook, Jerick McKinnon and free-agent pickup Latavius Murray should make the offense less predictable under coordinator Pat Shurmur.