The Vikings 12 picks during this year's NFL Draft led all teams and set a franchise record for the most in a seven-round draft.
Of those 12 selections, which player was the highest value for where he was grabbed? ESPN Media analyst Todd McShay recently **highlighted his “top value pick” for all 32 NFL teams**, highlighting tight end Irv Smith, Jr., for Minnesota. He wrote:
I really love that Minnesota identified offensive line as a huge problem and attacked it with three picks for the unit in the first six rounds. It was a priority. But that didn't stop the Vikings from getting a real matchup nightmare in the second round. Kirk Cousins likes to throw underneath and check down, so expect Smith to get plenty of work as a rookie. The run-heavy offense will set up the play-action, and Smith will be there waiting to rip off big plays.
Smith can separate vertically or pick up chunks after the catch with his speed and athleticism. His ball skills are above average, and he accelerates out of the catch very well. His blocking is improving, but Smith's value comes in his ability to create mismatches and take advantage.
For the rest of the NFC North, McShay praised Green Bay's pick of Maryland safety Darnell Savage, Jr., 21st overall, Detroit's selection of Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson (No. 8) and Chicago's addition of Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley, who was snagged with the 126th overall pick.
McShay wrote the following of Hockenson, whom the Vikings are scheduled to see in Week 7 and again in Week 14 this season.
Hockenson might just be the safest, most complete prospect in the entire draft class. Lions fans might have cringed to see their team take a first-round tight end, remembering the letdowns of Eric Ebron and Brandon Pettigrew, but this kid brings a different level of potential. He has 6-foot-5 size, 4.70 speed [in the 40-yard dash] and great strength. Detroit will be able to use him as a blocker or receiver inside, or bump him outside where his top-end route running and outstanding ball skills take over. His compete level is great, and he has a lot of toughness. Expect Matthew Stafford to use his rookie big man a ton with not a lot happening in the Lions' pass game.
Vikings Receive 'A' Grade for 2019 NFL Draft
The Vikings **received an “A” grade** last week from NFL.com's Chad Reuter for their first-round selection of N.C. State center Garrett Bradbury.
And now that all 12 of Minnesota's picks have been made? Reuter **once again gave the Vikings an A**, this time for their moves over all three days of the draft. He gave an A for Days 1 and 2 and a B+ for Day 3.
Reuter said that Smith "is a move tight end who has a nice value" and that running back Alexander Mattison "is a durable power back" to team with Dalvin Cook.
Reuter wrote the following of the Vikings action on Saturday, during which they made nine selections:
[Marcus] Epps is an athletic safety who likes to hit, something the Vikings needed to add in this draft. [Armon] Watts is a disruptive guy inside who is just scratching the surface of his potential. They hit the OL again with [tackle Oli] Udoh, a good value in the sixth round. The Spielman residence should be harmonious with a cornerback not being picked until Round 6 ([Kris] Boyd was also a good value). [Olabisi] Johnson was overshadowed by Preston Williams at Colorado State, but he has a chance to make the Vikings roster.
Vikings 7th-round draft pick nicknamed 'The Standard' by college teammates
Minnesota selected two receivers on Saturday, including Johnson with the 247th pick.
The pick was **covered by Kelly Lyell of the Fort Collins Coloradoan**, who said that Johnson "earned the right to make his own mark in the NFL" after biding time behind former Rams teammates Michael Gallup and Preston Williams. Lyell wrote:
He is the third receiver and fourth player overall from CSU to be selected in the NFL draft in the past four seasons. Gallup was picked in the third round of the 2017 draft by the Dallas Cowboys and Rashard Higgins in the fifth round of the 2016 draft by the Cleveland Browns. The only other CSU player drafted in the past four seasons was linebacker Cory James by the Oakland Raiders in the sixth round of the 2016 draft.
Johnson was nicknamed "The Standard" by his CSU teammates and coaches for his work ethic, precision route-running, consistency and blocking ability.
Lyell quoted McShay, who said the following of Johnson:
"When I studied Bisi, I wasn't sure what to expect. And I wound up liking him more than I expected going into the process. … I think he's a good route runner. I think he's tough. He makes plays contested.
"As we finished up our final rankings, I wound up giving him a higher grade than I expected to."