Minnesota Vikings 2014 Draft: Aggregating Report Card Grades from Around the Web
The Minnesota Vikings found themselves walking away with multiple players in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft, marking the third straight year that general manager Rick Spielman has traded back up into the Day 1 festivities.
In 2012, the Vikings moved back into the first round for safety Harrison Smith at pick No. 29, and last year, the team maneuvered up to the same position for wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.
This year's excitement involved Teddy Bridgewater, one of the top prospects in a highly contentious quarterback class. Minnesota was able to round out the evening with the Louisville junior at pick No. 32, after drafting defensive end Anthony Barr out of UCLA with the ninth overall selection.
Those two players will drastically impact any analyst's evaluation, but the value the Vikings were able to get in later rounds also plays into the overall equation.
We've rounded up the final grades from experts across the Web to see how well Minnesota fared in the three-day event. To be clear, these marks are an indication of perceived value for each player and the needs addressed.
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN: B-
One of the lower grades handed out to the Vikings, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. (subscription required) wasn't sold by the early Barr selection or the lack of attention to inside linebacker and wide receiver.
Nabbing Bridgewater helped keep Minnesota out of the "average" category, but the longtime ESPN draft expert clearly had higher expectations:
Summary: The first round of this draft has me pretty split. I thought Anthony Barr was a pretty big reach based on my evaluations; he's a talented but raw player who lacks instincts on defense. On the other hand, moving decisively to get Teddy Bridgewater made sense, and they have the pieces around him to help him succeed. Plus, as Trent Dilfer noted, the culture in that locker room could be good for Teddy as well. While I really liked the David Yankey pick and also am a fan of Jerick McKinnon based on his tape and his exceptional workout numbers, not taking an inside linebacker anywhere is questionable given what they currently have on the roster, and I'm surprised they didn't add another wide receiver given the talent available. They took some shots at cornerback, and I think Kendall James could be a pretty good late value. The Vikings did a pretty good job overall, and if Barr develops more and Bridgewater really becomes the answer, this draft will look really good.
To be fair, the Vikings did agree to terms with Kain Colter in free agency after the draft, a promising wide receiver prospect out of Northwestern. However, that didn't come into play in Kiper's grade.
Also, current roster linebackers Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti could both make a push to start at inside linebacker for the Vikings, as well as Chad Greenway, depending on how the coaching staff positions the defense.
Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com: A
While Kiper was hedging his final evaluation of the Vikings' draft, Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com had high praise for Spielman and the front office:
Best Pick: I love the decision to move back into the first round to get quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. They don't have a legitimate starter, so it made sense.
Questionable move: Using a third-round pick on Georgia Southern quarterback Jerick McKinnon to make him a backup running back to Adrian Peterson. That's risky -- and high for that type of move.
Third-day gem: Sixth-round corner Antone Exum has the size where he could move inside to safety. He might not run well enough to stay on the corner.
Analysis: The Vikings had another good draft under Rick Spielman, and they hope they found their quarterback. First-round pick Anthony Barr will upgrade the speed at linebacker.
Admittedly, I wasn't high on Barr heading into the first round of the draft. My evaluation was that he was a better fit as a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme or outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
But as head coach Mike Zimmer continues to lay out his plan on defense for the Vikings, the more I'm realizing how well Barr can fit in multiple defensive packages.
This grade makes sense. And if the only question mark is Jerick McKinnon, the very athletic running back who was in the top three in nearly every event at the NFL Scouting Combine according to NFL.com, that's minor squabbling.
Rob Rang, CBSSports.com: A
Rob Rang continues the love for the Vikings over at CBSSports.com, handing the Vikings a full A for their efforts in the NFL draft.
Rang was most impressed with the Bridgewater pick, an absolute steal at the bottom of the first round given his assessment of the signal-caller:
Despite all of the knocks on his slight frame and poor Pro Day workout, Teddy Bridgewater remained my top-rated quarterback. He doesn't possess the ideal accuracy on the deep ball to be a perfect match in Norv Turner's offense but given the presence of Adrian Peterson, steady route-runners Greg Jennings and Kyle Rudolph and burgeoning playmaker Cordarrelle Patterson, he enters a nice situation and will eventually overtake Matt Cassel.
After the praise for Bridgewater, Rang had little in the way of anything negative to say for Minnesota. He was even sold on the upside of McKinnon out of Georgia Southern:
As a quarterback, Bridgewater will, of course, earn most of the attention from this class but the Vikings led things off with pass rusher Anthony Barr, whose speed off the edge will be utilized well by defensive-minded head coach Mike Zimmer. Blue-collar defensive end Scott Crichton also is a quality addition. Watch out for middle round selections Jerick McKinnon (a phenomenal athlete who could play any number of roles), David Yankey and Antone Exum to also make this roster. This was an especially strong draft for the Vikings considering that it is general manager Rick Spielman and Zimmer's first year working together.
Vikings fans will certainly be banging the drum in unison to this evaluation, one that appears to be in the majority as we continue down the line.
Doug Farrar, Sports Illustrated: A+
Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated goes one step further in stroking the ego of the front office and awards Minnesota the highest possible mark of an A-plus.
The grade appears rooted in the amazing value the Vikings received after the selection of Barr at No. 9:
On paper at least, the Vikings had one of the top drafts in 2014. UCLA's Anthony Barr was a slight reach as a pass rusher under development, but the team really scored by trading back into the end of the first round and grabbing Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Their third-round picks — Oregon State defensive lineman Scott Crichton and Georgia Southern do-it-all back Jerick McKinnon — should provide valuable depth right away. And grabbing Stanford guard David Yankey in the fifth round could amount to highway robbery in a few years. An outstanding haul for first-year head coach Mike Zimmer and his staff.
Only time will tell if each selection can come to fruition given a player's potential and corresponding value in each round of the draft. But in the eyes of Farrar, the Vikings walked away on top.
Chris Simms, Bleacher Report: A-
Bleacher Report's Chris Simms is on record as being very critical of Bridgewater, a player the former quarterback didn't see as a first-round pick.
Simms points out that Bridgewater has some mechanical flaws, especially as it relates to the deep ball.
With that said, the B/R analyst was extremely high on Barr, more so than the consensus among other media personalities.
He also really liked third-round pick Scott Crichton out of Oregon State and offensive guard David Yankee out of Stanford.
In the end, Simms gave the Vikings an overall grade of A-minus, an objective evaluation despite his negative outlook on Bridgewater.
Matthew Stensrud is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+.
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