View the Vikings roster as the front office made the final cuts to open the 2017 season.
There are multiple times at which a draft class is graded these days.
The first evaluation usually happens while players are wearing a ball cap instead of a helmet.
This week's transition from the preseason to the regular season allows time for another round of grading that has the benefit of a full offseason program of practices, training camp and exhibition games.
Matthew Coller of 1500ESPN.com used this window to assess the 2017 Vikings draft class* *and identified four players that he thinks are likely to be "potential impact players" in their rookie seasons. The four were also Minnesota's first four picks of the draft, starting with second-round selection Dalvin Cook and continuing with third-round pick Pat Elflein and fourth rounders Jaleel Johnson and Ben Gedeon.
Of Cook, Coller wrote:
*Heading into the season, Cook looks like an A pick. From the moment he stepped on the field at camp, the former Florida State star impressed the Vikings, grasping the offense quickly and showing that his patient and explosive running style can quickly translate to the highest level. Not only did he win the RB1 job, but Cook has looked like he could become the centerpiece of the offense. You can't do better than that in the second round. *
Elflein is likely positioned to start at center and be flanked by the two players who started at the position last year, Nick Easton, who is sliding over to right guard, and Nick Easton, who is likely to start at left guard. The Vikings used that combination at Seattle in the second preseason game.
Coller wrote that Johnson "raised his stock significantly from the start of training camp until the end of the preseason. When camp began, he was in a battle with Datone Jones and others for a spot on the defensive line. When preseason ended, he was a 100 percent lock for a roster spot and will likely have a role on defense."
Gedeon emerged with the first-team defense at the weakside linebacker spot for the final three preseason games. The Vikings opened against the Seahawks in their nickel defense, but Gedeon started both home preseason games.
Gedeon is one of six linebackers the Vikings retained during cuts, joining Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr, as well as Emmanuel Lamur, Kentrell Brothers and Eric Wilson.
Offensive line overhaul
The Vikings talked about overhauling the offensive line and have proceeded to do so. In addition to sliding Easton and Berger to the guard spots and inserting Elflein at center, Minnesota also will be starting new tackles in 2017.
The Vikings opened free agency by signing Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers, who are poised to open Monday's game against the New Orleans Saints.
Minnesota kept nine total offensive linemen on the 53-man roster, retaining Rashod Hill and Jeremiah Sirles, as well as rookies Danny Isidora, a fifth-round pick, and undrafted rookie Aviante Collins.
John Holler of Viking Update wrote about the importance of continuity on the offensive line for a team's overall success but added that "change seemed inevitable" for the Vikings after an injury-plagued 2016.
*It's one thing to tweak a position. It's another to completely overhaul it. Of the nine offensive linemen who made the final 53-man roster in 2016, only three of them remain – Berger, Easton and Jeremiah Sirles. Berger and Easton were Nos. 1 and 2 at center in 2016. They're the starting guards this year. *
*The other six linemen on the roster – Reiff, Elflein, Remmers, Aviante Collins, Rashod Hill and Danny Isidora – have combined to play one game for the Vikings to date. That will change. *