The initial grades are in, and Minnesota's selection of N.C. State center Garrett Bradbury with the 18th overall pick is being called a win.
NFL.com analyst Chad Reuter gave the Vikings an "A" grade for their first-round move. He wrote:
Bradbury is athletic and tough, considered one of the best center prospects to be picked in some time. Minnesota's offensive line was in dire need of improvement, so this selection will make quarterback Kirk Cousins and running back Dalvin Cook extremely happy.
The Vikings weren't the only NFC North team to be graded well; in fact, all four teams were spoken highly of. The Packers received an "A" for their pair of picks: Michigan edge rusher Rashan Gary (No. 12) and Maryland safety Darnell Savage (No. 21).
Gary's production wasn't what you would have liked at Michigan, and his off-field business interest turned off some teams. However, he has great athletic upside as a defender in the Packers scheme. Announced as a linebacker at the draft on Thursday, Gary can play outside or inside and gives consistent full effort. Green Bay had an extra first-round pick from a 2018 draft-day trade with New Orleans (No. 30 overall). The Packers traded up, though, and selected Savage, who fills an immediate need at safety. He will be an effective nickel defender and will pop ball-carriers whenever possible. Trading away two fourth-round selections (one of which was gained from Washington for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix) was fine given their multiple early picks this year.
Although Chicago did not have a first-round pick, Reuter gave the team an "A" for the trade that brought Khalil Mack to the Windy City last year.
The Lions were the lowest-graded team in the division but still earned a "B+" for their pick of Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson at No. 8. Reuter lauded Hockenson but said that Detroit left another prospect on the board.
I love Hockenson as a two-way tight end prospect. He will be a strong target for Matthew Stafford and a nice blocker in the run game. But he wasn't the top player available: it was defensive tackle Ed Oliver. Time will tell which way they should have gone with that pick.
View photos of the Vikings first round draft pick N.C. State C Garrett Bradbury.
Krammer: Vikings could 'go lots of ways' on Day 2 of the Draft
Round 1 now in the rearview mirror, the Vikings are slated to make two picks today – No. 50 and No. 81 – in Rounds 2 and 3.
Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune tackled a few of the directions Minnesota could go on the second day of the NFL Draft, including pursuing a defensive lineman. He wrote:
Expect [Vikings General Manager Rick] Spielman to jump on that train eventually, especially after losing defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson to Cleveland in free agency.
View photos of Minnesota Vikings fans in Nashville for the 2019 NFL Draft.
One of the most compelling fits left on the board is Ohio State defensive tackle Dre'Mont Jones, an athletic freak for his size (6-3, 281 pounds) who had 13.5 tackles for a loss and [8.5] sacks last fall. Spielman and [Head Coach] Mike Zimmer got an up-close look at him during the Buckeyes' pro day in March. Defensive end, where Texas' Charles Omenihu and Texas A&M's Kingsley Keke could be fits, is also a potential need for the Vikings.
Krammer also opined that the Vikings could draft a tight end or "turn their attention back to the offensive line" after netting Bradbury.
[Among] the remaining prospects are tackles Jawaan Taylor (Florida), Dalton Risner (Kansas State) and Greg Little (Mississippi). The pick of Bradbury likely signals Riley Reiff remaining at left tackle, but a long-term option to protect quarterback Kirk Cousins' blindside wouldn't hurt.
Coller says 'mission accomplished' for Minnesota on Day 1
According to SKOR North's Matthew Coller, the draft board "fell perfectly" for the Vikings Thursday night, allowing Minnesota to add Bradbury and bolster its offensive line.
Having started out this year's NFL Draft with an offensive linemen, the first on the interior selected by the Vikings in a first round since Hall of Famer Randall McDaniel, the Vikings can feel good about heading into Friday and Saturday, Coller said. He wrote:
Now they head into the second round with options galore. The middle rounds are chalk full of wide receivers like Deebo Samuel and J.J Arcega-Whiteside, tight ends like Dawson Knox and Jace Sternberger and corners like Trayvon Mullen and Justin Layne.
From this point forward, there almost isn't a wrong direction the Vikings could take. Even if they selected another offensive lineman, they would be addressing a need.
They had to come away with a Day 1 starter on the offensive line that would immediately improve the team's run blocking and pass protection. Mission accomplished. Anything else they come away with is a cherry on top, and that's largely thanks to the teams ahead of the Vikings, who went in some surprising directions and gave Bradbury to Minnesota on a silver platter.