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2011 NFL Draft Grades: Report Card for Minnesota Vikings' Entire Draft

Ray TannockSenior Analyst IMay 3, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Grades: Report Card for Minnesota Vikings' Entire Draft

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Quarterback Christian Ponder of Florida State looks on during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    The Minnesota Vikings wound up with one of the better drafts this year despite leaving a few holes unsettled—OLB to be more specific.

    Still, the organization feels it has enough players from a talent standpoint and a developmental standpoint to move forward in a very big way.

    Some of these draftees should fit right in—others perhaps not so well.

    Let’s take a look at the Vikings report card and see how they wound up with a final draft grade of B-minus.

QB Christian Ponder

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    TALLAHASSEE, FL - NOVEMBER 27:  Christian Ponder #7 of the Florida State Seminoles throws for a first down during a game against the Florida Gators at Doak Campbell Stadium on November 27, 2010 in Tallahassee, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The Vikings made quite a few of their fans do a 180 when they selected QB Christian Ponder, and that’s because players such as Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick were still on the board—just to name a few.

    But what it all came down to in the end was football IQ, and that’s what impressed the organization the most.

    Ponder comes from a sort of catch-and-shoot type of offense (a very quick, rhythmic style of play) so it will be interesting to see what Bill Musgrave does with this kid here.

    Ponder had a bit of an injury past and will need to adjust to how much any single NFL game can change within itself, but if the Vikings can readjust what they do with the ball and go with a more in your face, speedy approach, then the pick winds up making sense.

    Final Grade: B-minus

TE Kyle Rudolph

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    SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 03: Kyle Rudolph #9 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish breaks away from Quinton Rochardson #28 of the Washington Huskies after catching the ball on October 3, 2009 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Dan
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Arguably the best pick of the Vikings’ draft, Kyle Rudolph brings depth, youth and stability to one of the more pressing question marks on the offense for Minnesota.

    Having another young, athletic TE who is a proven athlete will obviously allow Musgrave to really cram those double-TE sets down people’s throats, but it will also allow him to really cram the ground game down their throats, which ironically will help out at QB as well.

    Final Grade: A-plus

DT Christian Ballard

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    IOWA CITY, IA - OCTOBER 30: Running back Larry Caper #22 of the Michigan State Spartans recovers his fumble as line backer James Morris #44, defensive line man Christian Ballard #46, and line backer Troy Johnson #48 of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes clos
    David Purdy/Getty Images

    The Vikings continued their excellent draft work after Rudolph was selected by nabbing Iowa’s Christian Ballard in an effort to shore up the tackle position and add some much-needed depth.

    Talk about a value pick! Ballard is the sort of interior lineman who is nearly pro-ready and will add another dimension to the defensive attack scheme the Vikings run—in time, of course.

    For now, the Vikings have a ton of time to spend on refining Ballard to their liking.

    Final Grade: A

CB Brandon Burton

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    SAN DIEGO - NOVEMBER 20:  Wide receiver DeMarco Sampson #1 of the San Diego State Aztecs makes a catch over cornerback Brandon Burton #27 of the Utah Utes at Qualcomm Stadium on November 20, 2010 in San Diego, California.  Utah won 38-34.  (Photo by Steph
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    I really would’ve liked to have seen the Vikings target a quality LB or safety here, but instead they went with Utah’s Brandon Burton.

    Burton is a bit undersized and has a slight history of being beat on the outside in one-on-one situations, but he does have good range and speed.

    His tackling abilities are considered average, but Burton as a whole is considered developable.

    I think it was a safe pick, but not the best available at the time due to needs and other issues, so hopefully for the Vikings' sake they prove me wrong in the end.

    Final Grade: C-plus

OL DeMarcus Love

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    I think the worst pick for the Vikings was Love considering he is more of a developmental player, not the type who will immediately solve some issues on the O-line.

    I know the Vikings couldn’t get every little detail solved in the draft, but I just feel that Love is nothing more than permanent depth chart material only.

    Love does have a nice consistent motor, but he is flat on his feet and often releases awkwardly. Also, at 6’4”, 315 pounds, he’s a bit smallish.

    Jah Reid would’ve made a better pick here.

    Final Grade: C-minus

DB Mistral Raymond

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    The Vikings again made a pretty good move here in selecting South Florida’s Mistral Raymond, who was actually a bit underrated.

    Raymond is a speedy defender with above-average hands who also impressed Leslie Frazier enough to have the club scoop him up.

    In the early going, Raymond will inevitably be a fill-in player and a special teams guy, but I have a feeling we’ll see him before year’s end.

    Final Grade: B-minus

OL Brandon Fusco

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    Players from small schools don’t usually turn out well in the pros, which made the pick of Brandon Fusco a little curious, to say the least.

    That and they already scoped up an offensive lineman and no linebacker.

    Fusco has nice size, an average skill set and the ability to develop into a quality player in the pros, but it wasn’t the best pick from the Vikes.

    Final Grade: D-plus

DE D’Aundre Reed

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    Reed comes in as a potential value pick from Arizona, and it will be interesting to see what the Vikings do with him—and get out of him, might I add—in camp.

    Reed has pretty good size, a nice release off the line and can stay level with the defender enough to win the battle.

    Reid will need to work on his overall technique in an effort to deal with the more brutish defenders in the league if he is to make a pro roster, though.

    Final Grade: C-plus

WR Steven Burton

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    Burton brings a ton of size at 6’1”, 221 pounds and is a great back-end pick for the Vikings.

    If Burton can hone his skills to the pro level, it gives the Vikings yet another weapon to utilize on the field, which could help them stay competitive with the division.

    But it will take some work.

    Aside from sound fundamentals, Burton still needs to work on his concentration when in the wide open, work on improving his hands consistently and clamp down his route-running skills—particularly on the quick cuts.

    Final Grade: C-minus

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