Friday, May 15, 2009

2009 NFL Draft Grades: Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings eventually emerged out of the pack of teams fighting for the NFC North title. Chicago and Green Bay faded down the stretch and Minnesota did enough to take the division for the first time since the 2000 season. Whether or not the Vikings can repeat as division champs - which they haven't done since 1978, which was their sixth consecutive NFC North title - rests on the shoulders of whatever QB ultimately takes the first snap. Tarvaris Jackson, Sage Rosenfels, or Brett Favre? Yep, there's that name again.

The way people talk about the Vikings offense you'd think they actually were the best in The League. They were actually only a little above average, with a strong rushing game (5th) and a poor passing game (25th) equating to the 17th ranked offense in terms of total yards per game. Big plays helped bump their scoring average to a respectable 23.7 points per game, which was 12th in the NFL for 2008. The same can be said for the defense. The Vikings have an amazing run stopping ability, surrendering a mere 76.9 yards per game, easily the best in the NFL last season. However they gave up too much through the air and found themselves in the bottom half of the league (18th). An improvement in the secondary - even with no improvement on offense - could add another win or two and make Minnesota a true Super Bowl contender. If it wasn't bad enough having to face Aaron Rodgers twice in 2008, they now must face Jay Cutler two times a year as well.

This is head coach Brad Childress' fourth year on the job and his team has improved by two wins each season, which is great for a team. However with a divisional crown, the presence of Adrian Petersen and the stout run defense, coupled with the Favre flirtations, Childress could be on the hot seat to produce once again. As in win 12 games or at least a playoff game. No turnover is good for a team on the rise; if Childress wins less than 10 games he is certainly gone. And then they cycle restarts.

1/22/22 - Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
2/22/54 - Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma
3/22/86 - Asher Allen, CB, Georgia
5/14/150 - Jasper Brinkley, ILB, South Carolina
7/22/231 - Jamarca Sanford, FS, Mississippi

  • OL - Check!
  • WR - Check!
  • CB - Check!
  • LB - Check!
  • DL - Try again.
No DTs? Wow. The Vikings must be confident that The Williams Wall (Kevin and Pat) won't be suspended for any games to start the season. And that they can make it through the entire season healthy. And will play next year. Or they have a lot of faith in Jimmy Kennedy and Fred Evans (and others). They filled needs but totally overlooked the one everyone thought was their biggest. They did fine filling the others but not the big one, which should have been done in the first three picks.

GRADE: 85/100

Pick 1 - Percy Harvin's got talent. It's just not all there for a 1st round pick. Much like Reggie Bush. Like Bush, Harvin is a speedster but and incomplete player. He lacks ideal height and bulk to become a #1 WR and has a slew of off the field problems, including testing positive for marijuana at the combine in February. So yeah, he is STUPID. All the prospects know they'll be tested during the event and yet he still smoked at some point near the time of the test. Awesome guy the Vikings got. Grade: 6

Pick 2 - Now this was a good pick. The Vikings needed a new RT because Ryan Cook just wasn't cutting it. Loadholt is a beast that needs some technique work (he tends to overextend) but can easily become a great RT. In fact he has already impressed at mini camp. Grade: 9

Pick 3 - Despite signing Antoine Winfield, Madieu Williams, Karl Paymah, and Michael Boulware over the years along with drafting Cedric Griffin, Marcus McCauley, and Tyrell Johnson, the Vikings secondary is pretty weak. So they draft another CB (and a safety later) in Asher Allen. They have to find a good group to put back there someday right? Maybe Allen will help. He was good value but a DT here would have been nice... Grade: 7

Pick 4 - The beast of a LB was thought to be a better prospect before destroying his knee in 2007. He recovered but didn't look the same last season. He fell to the fifth where the Vikings scarfed him up. I honestly thought he'd only go to a 3-4 team who'd covet his size for the ILB spot but Minnesota took him for their MLB position. He may be only a run stuffer in short yardage situations for a year or two as he learns to better cover RBs and TEs. He could be an eventual successor to Napolean Harris. Grade: 7

Pick 5 - They got a possible SS last year in Johnson and now look to Sanford to develop into a possible FS. They continue to attempt at developing DBs and, based on their pass 'D' stats, I'd say they haven't quite succeeded. Again, a developmental DT would have been nice but this is still a good pick as they search for reliable secondary men. Grade: 7

GRADE: 36/50


This was a nice, solid draft that could develop into a bunch of starters. Actually each one has a chance to have a big role on the team by 2010. So, top to bottom, this was a good class. I just don't like Harvin and skipping on a DT.


WHY: They filled all needs but the big one. Harvin is too unreliable and unpredictable to believe they have a WR of the future. As always, time will tell. The clock is ticking on this class and the future of the Vikings franchise.

NOTE: My "final grade" is weighted and is not a simple combination of "needs" and "talent".

Best Pick: Loadholt
Worst Pick: Harvin
Sleeper: Brinkley
Instant Impact: Loadholt
Developmental: Sanford

OTHER DRAFT GRADES - Minnesota Vikings
CBS Sports (Prisco): B-
CBS Sports (Rang): A-
ESPN (Kiper): C+ (Brooks): C+ (Fan's): B
Walter: C



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