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Mel Kiper Boosts Grade for Vikings 2015 Draft Class

ESPN Draft Analyst Mel Kiper initially graded the Vikings 2015 draft class a "B" but has issued an "A" for the group after the benefit of one season of hindsight.

The Vikings had nine players from their 10-member class on the active roster for their Wild Card game against the Seahawks.

That presence is a sign of a couple of factors: 1) Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman's navigation of turning six picks (before the draft) into 10 choices via trades yielded results; 2) many rookies had been instrumental in the Vikings winning their first NFC North title since 2009; 3) Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer expects players to be ready to make an impact at any age; 4) a group that was viewed as above average became even better after learning from coaches and veterans.

On the Vikings, Kiper wrote:

When you consider how much the Vikings improved, and that they should have at least one playoff win, this rookie class looks even more impressive. Trae Waynes had his share of struggles, but you expect that from a rookie corner, and he'll get better. Eric Kendricks is a stud, and Danielle Hunter looks like an absolute steal. Stefon Diggs is a player I couldn't imagine falling so far during his final year at Maryland, but there he was in Round 5 and the Vikes got a steal. We'll see what becomes of T.J. Clemmings, but he's got some ability to work with. Even Edmond Robinson played well on special teams. Just a fantastic start for a class — no way around it.

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Waynes opened behind first-round picks Terence Newman and Xavier Rhodes. He developed over the course of the season, filling in when Newman and Rhodes were sidelined by injuries and when the Vikings needed to shift Newman to safety at Arizona because of a bevy of injuries. Waynes also led the Vikings with 14 tackles on special teams.

Kendricks started 11 of the 14 games he played and became the first Vikings rookie to lead the team in tackles (105) since Rip Hawkins in Minnesota's inaugural 1961 season.

Hunter finished second on the Vikings with 6.0 sacks, and Diggs became the first Vikings rookie to lead the team in receptions (52). He also had 720 yards and four touchdowns.

Clemmings tied a franchise rookie record by starting all 16 games after the Vikings lost Phil Loadholt at right tackle for the entire season.

Robinson had eight tackles on special teams and filled in on defense, recording nine tackles and one pass defended.

Austin Shepherd filled in for a few snaps for Matt Kalil and also played as an extra tight end, including in the playoff game when the Vikings were without Rhett Ellison. B.J. DuBose spent most of the season on the practice squad. He was up for the playoff game but did not play.

The Vikings are scheduled to have the 23rd overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, which is scheduled from April 28-30.

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