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Lunchbreak: Draft Analysts Say Vikings Had 'Best Night,' Give High Grades for 1st-Round Picks

EAGAN, Minn. — By the time the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft came to a close Thursday night, the Vikings were one of six teams that ended up with multiple picks.

And multiple analysts who cover the NFL liked what Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and his staff pulled off.

The Vikings used the 22nd pick acquired in the trade with Buffalo for Stefon Diggs to draft LSU receiver Justin Jefferson. Minnesota then traded down from 25 to 31, netting two additional picks to increase its 2020 total to 14 (at the time of this post) and drafting cornerback Jeff Gladney out of TCU.

Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic wrote that the Vikings had the ‘best night’ of all 32 NFL teams.

Kapadia wrote:

They now have a whopping 14 picks in the draft. Missing on evaluations and making picks that don't work out are parts of the process for every team, but the Vikings are giving themselves plenty of opportunities with so many picks and they did a great job of maximizing their resources in the first round.

And count CBS Sports' Pete Prisco among the fans of Minnesota's night, as he handed out high marks to Minnesota for Day 1.

Prisco said the Vikings nailed their first pick at No. 22, giving the team an 'A' grade for selecting LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson.

Prisco wrote:

I love this pick … I thought he would go before this.

Jefferson had one of the best receiving seasons in LSU history in 2019. He tied for the national lead with 111 catches and finished second in the country overall with 18 touchdown receptions, which trailed only Tigers teammate Ja'Marr Chase's 20.

He was third in FBS with 1,540 receiving yards and helped the Tigers win the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Minnesota was slated to pick at No. 25, but Spielman moved back to No. 31 in a trade with San Francisco, adding a fourth-round pick (No. 117) and a fifth-rounder (No. 176) in the process.

Prisco handed Minnesota a 'B' grade after its selection of Gladney with the 31st overall pick.

Gladney was a First-Team All-Big 12 selection in 2019, when his 15 passes defensed led the conference.

The Vikings are scheduled to have a trio of Day 2 selections, including the 58th overall pick in the second round. Minnesota also has picks No. 89 and 105 in the third round.

Winfield, Jr., among ESPN's best players still available

Only 32 players heard their names called Thursday night, leaving dozens more to wait until Friday and Saturday for a life-changing moment.

There is still plenty of talent left on the board, as ESPN listed its best remaining players available heading into Day 2 of the draft.

ESPN's Steve Muench has Alabama safety Xavier McKinney as the best player available, followed by Georgia running back D'Andre Swift, Boise State tackle Ezra Cleveland and TCU defensive tackle Ross Blacklock.

Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins was fifth, followed by Minnesota safety Antoine Winfield, Jr., whose father was a three-time Pro Bowl cornerback with the Vikings.

Muench wrote that Winfield, Jr., reminds him of watching his father play.

Just like his father, Antoine Winfield, a first-round pick by the Bills in 1999, Winfield is an instinctive defensive back with excellent toughness for his size. He's a ball hawk, is competitive when the ball is in the air and has above-average hands. Winfield is an aggressive run defender who looks for contact and has good stopping power.

Muench's top 10 is rounded out by Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins, Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa, Penn State defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos and Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor.

Day 2 of the 2020 draft begins at 6 p.m. (CT) with a singular broadcast on ESPN and NFL Network, as well as a unique broadcast on ABC.