Sunday, April 30, 2023

Minnesota Vikings 2023 NFL Draft Grades Roundup

The 2023 NFL Draft is now in the rearview mirror, and we have compiled a consensus ranking using NFL draft grades from a variety of sites.

What draft grades have the media given to the Minnesota Vikings? What are they saying about the Vikings' 2023 draft haul?

MORE: 2023 NFL Strength of Schedule - Grade: A-

Addison will complement star receiver Justin Jefferson so well from the slot that it seemed the marriage was fate. Tight end T.J. Hockenson cost the team its second-rounder, which may prove wise if the Vikings are able to extend or re-sign him next offseason. Blackmon's competitiveness and sticky coverage met a crucial need.

Ward is a tough-minded safety who can play some nickel for the Vikings, picking him after gaining a 2024 fifth-round pick when trading down. Roy was an excellent value in the fifth as an active interior defender. Hall is a developmental passer but flashed the velocity and accuracy of an NFL starter as often as some other quarterbacks selected before him. McBride went two rounds later than I expected.

ESPN - Grade: B

The Vikings got just two defensive snaps from rookie safety Lewis Cine, last year's first-round pick, and they entered this draft without a second-rounder because it was dealt for tight end T.J. Hockenson last fall. So while I thought for a little bit on Thursday that they might go for quarterback Will Levis at No. 23, they opted for a prospect who can make an immediate impact. Jordan Addison will fit well as the No. 2 wideout behind Justin Jefferson. Addison can run any route, and he can line up all across the formation. He just knows how to get open.

Minnesota went back to USC for cornerback Mekhi Blackmon (102) in Round 3. I had that one as a little bit of a reach with better corners on the board. I liked defensive tackle Jaquelin Roy (141) in Round 5; he can be solid nose tackle. I don't see NFL starter traits for quarterback Jaren Hall, but he was extremely productive over the past two years. I never mind a Day 3 quarterback selection too much. Running back DeWayne McBride (222) is my favorite selection for Minnesota; he is a top-100 prospect on my board. He averaged 155.7 rushing yards per game last season, and he can break tackles in the open field. He isn't likely to be a third-down back as a rookie, but he's a natural runner once he gets the ball.

This is a small class, but Addison fills a massive need. I'm just curious to see how much Blackmon can play as a rookie, because Minnesota has available snaps for him.

SI - Grade: B

To start the draft, the Vikings passed on adding a future replacement for Kirk Cousins and found help for Justin Jefferson. Addison has the speed to be a downfield threat, but he can also help in the intermediate game because of his smooth route running. Addison has the skillset to punish teams that decide to double Jefferson. Blackmon is a competitive cornerback, and one who pushed Addison during USC practices. After a disastrous season defending the pass, Minnesota suddenly has an intriguing secondary with Blackmon, Ward and free-agent addition Byron Murphy Jr. Later in the draft, Minnesota found Hall to be Cousins's backup, and maybe as a potential replacement.

PFF - Grade: B-

Day 1: The Vikings stick at No. 23 overall and come away with a talented wide receiver to pair with Justin Jefferson. Addison was the Biletnikoff Award winner with Pittsburgh in 2021 before transferring to USC. He finished the past two seasons with 25 touchdowns from 159 receptions.

Day 2: One of PFF analyst Sam Monson's favorite players in the draft, Blackmon is coming off by far the best season of his college career. On the field for 907 snaps, he produced a 90.6 PFF grade and allowed just 47.6% of the passes thrown into his coverage to be caught. He missed only two tackles in 2022.

Day 3: Ward failed to grade above 61.0 in both seasons in which he played 600 or more snaps. His 53.6 coverage grade and 65.9% completion rate allowed don't inspire much confidence, but he does offer some versatility in that he can play outside, in the slot and at safety.

Roy addresses a need as an interior lineman with the strength to hold up at the point of attack, frequently battling with SEC offensive linemen. While he isn't the quickest player off the line, Roy can bull over interior offensive linemen and produced a 10.1% pass-rush win rate in 2022, which is solid on the interior for a 300-pounder.

Hall performed very well in a cozy situation at BYU the past two years. He is an excellent athlete who is undersized with mediocre arm strength. He has the luxury of sitting behind Kirk Cousins, who wins with smarts and moxie. Hall will need to show the same traits against NFL pass rushes if he hopes to succeed long-term.

McBride earned an elite 94.1 grade in 2022 with 4.6 yards after contact per carry, 25 carries of 15-plus yards, which ranked seventh, and 76 missed tackles forced. We haven't seen much receiving from McBride, but it may just be a lack of opportunity. He could be a perfect fit in Minnesota's zone scheme.

Fox Sports - Grade: C+

Considering the Vikings came into the draft with just five total picks, this was never going to be a splashy draft. Through some maneuvering, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah ended up making six total selections, but only one of those came in the top 100. The Vikings did add a dynamic playmaker in USC wide receiver Jordan Addison at No. 23 overall to complete a wideout trifecta with Justin Jefferson and KJ Osborn. They have the benefit of T.J. Hockenson in the receiving game, as well.

The biggest indication of head coach Kevin O'Connell's confidence in Kirk Cousins came in the fact that Minnesota waited until pick No. 164 to take quarterback when they selected Jaren Hall out of BYU. Don't overlook the fact that they took LSU cornerback Jay Ward to kick Day 3 off. He gets to reunite with his former coach at LSU, Daronte Jones, who is now on Minnesota's staff. I wouldn't be shocked if they end up getting a starter out of the fourth round.

USA Today - Grade: B

Different kind of player, but first-round WR Jordan Addison should make hay as he steps into departed Adam Thielen's role opposite Jefferson. And, remember, the Round 2 choice was used last year to get TE T.J. Hockenson. The Vikes' most interesting picks might be fifth-round QB Jaren Hall and seventh-round RB DeWayne McBride given the uncertain futures of Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook, respectively. Also, admittedly rooting for undrafted free agent OLB Andre Carter II, who played at West Point.

The Ringer - Grade: C+

The Vikings selection of USC receiver Jordan Addison was one of my favorite player-team fits of the first round. The former Biletnikoff Award winner is the perfect complement to Justin Jefferson, and gives Kirk Cousins another reliable separator in high-leverage situations. The team was without a second-round pick thanks to the trade for T.J. Hockenson last season, but the Vikings added some solid depth players late on day two and throughout on day three. LSU defensive tackle Jaquelin Roy should be a rotational contributor early in his career and I'm very intrigued to see if former BYU quarterback Jaren Hall can secure the job as the team's backup over Nick Mullens. Hall is undersized but he throws a nice deep ball and offers some mobility to make plays out of structure—and he could be a perfect developmental project behind Cousins. Overall, a down-the-fairway draft for Minnesota after their excellent Addison pick.

Sporting News - Grade: B+

The Vikings started off with a bang taking Addison to pair with Justin Jefferson. They lost their way with shaky consecutive selections for corner, but quickly rebounded with a steal of Roy. Hall and McBride may not be the late-round answers, but their developmental plan put the Vikings on track to think more about life with Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook, likely in 2024.

Touchdown Wire - Grade: B

Kudos to the Vikings for addressing their most prominent need with two cornerbacks in the second day of the draft, but the real star of this group is Addison, the best pure route-runner in this class. Pairing him with Justin Jefferson will tie opposing cornerbacks in knots. Mekhi Blackmon is an underrated defender who allowed an opponent passer rating of 46.1 last season, and while Jay Ward needs more finishing work, it's good to see progress at a position in need of legitimate island guys — because when Brian Flores is your defensive coordinator, you're going to play on islands.

I'm not sure how Jaquelin Roy lasted until the fifth round — his tape seemed more like second- or third-round stuff to me — and if UAB running back DeWayne McBride can solve his fumbling issues, his speed and contact balance will win out impressively.

More: 2023 NFL Draft Grade Roundups

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