As the NFL Draft is set to take up the entire sports calendar this weekend, there will be plenty of instant analysis surrounding every decision the Minnesota Vikings make. The real fun will begin once the selections are finalized, however, as draft gurus from across the nation will release their draft grades to see who will be the paper champions of this year’s draft.
If those draft grades automatically resulted in Super Bowl titles, the Vikings might actually have a couple by now. But as we know, draft classes are not decided on draft night. It takes years of development to see if the first-round lock turned into one of the biggest busts in franchise history or the fourth-round gem turned into a blossoming superstar.
To look at how accurate these grades are on draft night, we took a look at the cumulative GPA of each class from 2010 to 2017 thanks to Football Outsiders. From there, we can see what everyone thought of those classes on draft night and just how these grades come to fruition.
Picks: CB Chris Cook (34th overall), RB Toby Gerhart (51st), DE Everson Griffen (100th), G Chris DeGeare (161), LB Nate Triplett (167th), QB Joe Webb (199th), TE Mickey Shuler Jr. (214th) and FB Ryan D’Imperio (237th overall)
Football Outsiders Cumulative GPA: 2.4 (C+)
Looking to go for one last run with Brett Favre, the Vikings flopped spectacularly with their 2010 draft class. Without a first-round pick due to a trade with Detroit, the Vikings selected Cook, who finished his career without a single interception in 40 games. The Vikings then took Gerhart even though they had prime Adrian Peterson on the roster and the only real contributor — unless you note Webb started a playoff game in 2012 — of note was Griffen who ranks fourth on the Vikings’ all-time list in career sacks.
Actual Grade: D
Picks: QB Christian Ponder (12th overall), TE Kyle Rudolph (43rd), DT Christian Ballard (106th), DB Brandon Burton (139th), OL Demarcus Love (168th), DB Mistral Raymond (170th), C Brandon Fusco (172nd), LB Ross Homan (200th), DE D’Aundre Reed (215th), Stephen Burton (236th)
Football Outsiders Cumulative GPA: 2.47 (C+)
This class turned out a little better than the 2010 group, but not by much. The Vikings whiffed on Ponder but gave him a quality target in the second round in Rudolph, who is first in franchise history in receiving touchdowns by a tight end (47) and second in yardage (4,154). After that, the only real contributor was sixth-round pick Fusco, who served as the Vikings’ right guard for four seasons.
Actual Grade: D+
Picks: OT Matt Kalil (fourth overall), DB Harrison Smith (29th), DB Josh Robinson (66th), WR Jarius Wright (118th), FB Rhett Ellison (128th), WR Greg Childs (134th), DB Robert Blanton (139th), K Blair Walsh (175th), LB Audie Cole (210th), DE Trevor Guyton (219th)
Football Outsiders Cumulative GPA: 3.11 (B)
The first draft of the Rick Spielman era was a solid one for the Vikings as they landed franchise pillar Smith and a solid role player in Wright later on. But the biggest question is how good this class could have been. Kalil bowed out of the league after six seasons and Childs was an intriguing prospect before tearing both patellar tendons on a single play in training camp. Walsh was also solid earning All-Pro honors as a rookie, but things went downhill following his miss in the 2015 Wild Card game.
Actual Grade: C+
Picks: DT Sharrif Floyd (23rd overall), DB Xavier Rhodes (25th), WR Cordarrelle Patterson (29th), LB Gerald Hodges (120th overall), P Jeff Locke (155th), G Jeff Baca (196th), LB Michael Mauti (213th), G Travis Bond (214th), DT Everett Dawkins (229th)
Football Outsiders Cumulative GPA: 3.38 (B+)
This class was always going to be defined by the three first-round selections the Vikings made between Floyd, Rhodes and Patterson. With those big splashes, the Vikings tied with Arizona for the fifth-highest GPA in this year’s draft, but the class didn’t live up to that hype.
Rhodes was the best selection of the three, locking down one of the cornerback spots in Minnesota throughout the remainder of the decade, but the other two left much to be desired. Floyd started his career well, but his career was cut short due to a botched surgery to fix a knee injury. Patterson also had loads of potential and playmaking ability, but never developed to be a wide receiver. His development as a returner salvages the pick, but not enough to justify giving four selections to New England to acquire him.
Outside of Hodges and Locke, the class didn’t have much after the first round.
Actual Grade: C
Picks: LB Anthony Barr (ninth overall), QB Teddy Bridgewater (32nd), DE Scott Crichton (72nd), RB Jerick McKinnon (96th), OL David Yankey (145th), DB Antone Exum (182nd), DB Kendall James (184th), DT Shamar Stephen (220th), LB Brandon Watts (223rd), DB Jabari Price (225th)
Football Outsiders Cumulative GPA: 3.66 (A-)
The Vikings had the third-highest GPA in the league in this draft along with Houston and a lot of that had to do with the surprise of trading up for Bridgewater at the end of the first round. Throw in fleecing the Browns out of draft capital for the second time in three years to take Barr and the Vikings had a strong foundation for their draft.
Then Bridgewater’s knee exploded in a 2016 practice. The Vikings still got a pillar of their defense with the Barr selection and found a starter late in the draft by selecting Stephen. But this class also remains the biggest “What if” in franchise history if Bridgewater remains healthy.
Actual Grade: B-
Picks: CB Trae Waynes (11th overall), LB Eric Kendricks (45th), DE Danielle Hunter (88th overall), OT T.J. Clemmings (110th), TE MyCole Pruitt (143rd), WR Stefon Diggs (146th), T Tyrus Thompson (185th), DE B.J. Dubose (193rd), T Austin Shepherd (228th), LB Edmond Robinson (232nd overall)
Football Outsiders Cumulative GPA: 3.57 (B+)
This is the gold standard of Spielman’s drafts and what the Vikings are hoping to do with this year’s class. The Vikings hit home runs on their first three picks landing a long-term starter in Waynes, an All-Pro in Kendricks and a potential future Hall of Famer in Hunter. The Vikings draft would have looked great after this, but then they added a Pro Bowl wideout in the fifth round in Diggs to cap things off.
The draft looked even better at the time as Clemmings was regarded as a first-round talent who tumbled all the way to the fourth round, but that’s irrelevant. The Vikings absolutely nailed this draft and would be lucky to do half as well in this year’s draft.
Actual Grade: A+
Picks: WR Laquon Treadwell (23rd overall), CB Mackensie Alexander (54th), T Willie Beavers (121st), LB Kentrell Brothers (160th), WR Moritz Boehringer (180th), TE David Morgan (188th), LB Stephen Weatherly (227th), S Jayron Kearse (244th)
Football Outsiders Cumulative GPA: 3.26 (B)
At the time, this appeared to be another solid class for Spielman and Co. The Vikings got their big target for Bridgewater in Treadwell, added another talented corner in Alexander, beefed up the line with Beavers and had a nice sleeper target late in the draft by selecting the German import Boehringer…and then everything fell apart.
Not a single member of the 2016 Vikings’ draft class is still on the roster and Treadwell stands to be one of the biggest busts in franchise history. Although some of the departures — Alexander and Kearse — stem from disagreements with the coaching staff, the Vikings had a rare complete failure in this class, which explains their current situation heading into this year’s draft.
Actual Grade: F
Picks: RB Dalvin Cook (41st overall), C Pat Elflein (70th), DT Jaleel Johnson (109th), LB Ben Gedeon (120th), WR Rodney Adams (170th), G Danny Isidora (180th), TE Bucky Hodges (201st), WR Stacy Coley (219th), DL Ifeadi Odenigbo (220nd), LB Elijah Lee (232nd), CB Jack Tocho (245th)
Football Outsiders Cumulative GPA: 3.15 (B)
Stuck without a first-round pick due to the panicked Sam Bradford trade, the Vikings did well to restock the cupboard. Cook has evolved to be the centerpiece of the Vikings offense despite missing over one-third of his games due to injury and while his success didn’t last, Elflein had a solid rookie season before suffering multiple injuries in the 2017 NFC Championship Game. Gedeon was a solid, but not spectacular pickup for the defense as well.
This class could receive a boost in the next couple of years depending on how Odenigbo does if he is thrust to a starting role on the defensive line. That being said it could look worse if Cook winds back on the shelf after giving him a pricey extension. The jury is partially out, but we have a pretty good idea that it’s not a best or worst-case scenario.
Actual Grade: B-
It might not be a surprise, but some years the grades that are given to teams are far off and others they seem to be in the same vein. In four of the seven seasons examined, the grades were within a letter grade of what we actually deemed them to be once they played out.
Like any year, the draft figures to be a crapshoot and with a deep and talented class, it will be interesting to see what the initial reaction is compared to the cash-in down the road.