Football Minnesota Vikings 2020 NFL draft grades

Football Minnesota Vikings 2020 NFL draft grades

Football

The 2020 NFL draft is over and of course people are quick to judge how teams did.

Normally, you really need three or five years to grade a class (like we did here and here).

But who is kidding who — we all want to know what others think of the selections made by our favorite team now. And there are plenty people doing just this.

Vikings NFL Draft Coverage

We’ve tried to compile as thorough a list of Minnesota Vikings draft analysis as you’ll find anywhere on the internet, complete with a GPA for the first-round picks and overall draft. Without further ado, enjoy.

Justin Jefferson

Andy Benoit of SI.com: B-. “At LSU, 109 of Jefferson’s 111 catches came from the slot. The Vikings, however, often play with just two wide receivers on the field (which usually means no slot position to fill) and likely see the 6′ 3″, 192-pounder as an outside weapon. Jefferson played with polish and a sound sense of tempo in LSU’s offense and should transition effectively to a new role in a Vikings scheme that will make heavy use of in-breaking routes off play-action. He is not as explosive as predecessor Stefon Diggs, but he’ll likelier be a happier camper to deal with.”

Mike Tanier of Bleacher Report: B+. “Jefferson could max out as Jarvis Landry 2.0 in the NFL. There are worse fates. And this is a solid pick for the Vikings, who have many more former starters to replace over the hours and days to come.”

Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com: A. “I love this pick. He’s not (Stefon) Diggs, but he’s also not going to complain every play like Diggs did. I thought he would go before this.”

Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News: A. “The Vikings get their replacement for Stefon Diggs to complement Adam Thielen in a similar way. Jefferson (6-1, 202 pounds), with massive production catching passes from Burrow, emerged in LSU’s passing game as a quick, efficient route-runner with good hands. He also has underrated speed.”

Luke Easterling of Draft Wire: A. “Kirk Cousins lost a polished pass-catcher in return for this pick, so it’s only right for his team to pay him back by filling that hole here.”

Eric Edholm of Yahoo Sports: B. “Not wildly athletic or big, but Jefferson is a talented slot wide receiver for a team whose depth at that position had been pretty rough after the Stefon Diggs trade. Also has terrific hands and contested-catch skills.”

WalterFootball.com: A. “The need here is obvious, as the Vikings traded away Stefon Diggs, so they needed to replace him. Justin Jefferson is not someone who should’ve been available to them. The Eagles should have picked him, and Denver would have considered him at No. 15 had Jerry Jeudy not been available. The Vikings wanted K’Lavon Chaisson and A.J. Terrell, but they were still able to land a talented player who fills a big need at No. 22 overall.”

Steven Ruiz of For the Win: C. “Playing in LSU’s loaded offense boosted Jefferson’s production, but he’s a well-rounded receiver who can play the slot or line up outside. He mostly played slot for the Tigers in 2019. You don’t typically see those guys dominate in contested catch situations, but Jefferson did. He has a unique route-running style, and I’m not sure if it will work at the next level. If it does, he’ll be a star. Gary Kubiak should get the most out of a talented prospect.”

Danny Kelly of The Ringer: A. “The 6-foot-1, 202-pound pass catcher made his living breaking ankles from the slot, employing basketball-style moves as a route runner that consistently put defenders in a blender. Jefferson was unbeatable at the catch point. He’s fearless over the middle of the field, a force in the red zone, and plays with a chip on his shoulder. After operating primarily out of the slot for LSU, Jefferson will have to prove he can make plays on the outside as well (he lined up there in 2018), but the slender big-play receiver looks like a great fit for Minnesota and should be a focal point early in his career.”

Doug Farrar of Touchdown Wire: A. “Jefferson was LSU’s top slot receiver last season, but he can be more than that in a pro passing game.”

Bryan Fischer of Athlon Sports: A. “Lot of draftniks thought this national champ should have gone a pick before but Minnesota delights in landing him here. He’ll be a terrific replacement for a certain wideout now in Buffalo.”

C.J. Doon of the Baltimore Sun: B. “With the pick the Vikings acquired from the Bills in the Stefon Diggs trade, they end up taking his successor. With savvy moves as a route runner and an elite ability to win contested catches, Jefferson offers plenty of upside. But how his game translates to the outside in the NFL is a mystery, and his skills might overlap too much with current slot receiver Adam Thielen.”

The Detroit News: A. “Minnesota now potentially boasts a “Big Three” of Dalvin Cook, Jefferson and Adam Thielen for quarterback Kirk Cousins.”

Dan Kadar of SB Nation: A+. “This might be my favorite pick of the first round. Some thought Jefferson could go as high as the 14th pick. For whatever reason, he slipped to 22nd. He torched defenses from the slot last year at LSU to the tune of 111 receptions for 1,540 yards. It’s true, the Vikings have Adam Thielen in the slot. But Jefferson’s game lends itself to playing more on the outside than he did in college.”

Dustin Hockensmith of pennlive.com: A. “Jefferson should slot nicely in the Vikings offense where recently-traded Stefon Diggs used to be.”

Darryl Slater of NJ.com: B+. “Will the Eagles regret passing on Jefferson? The Vikings are sure happy they did.”

Loaded Box Podcast: A-. “Jefferson was a benefactor of LSU’s explosive offense last year when Joe Burrow threw for 60 TD’s, and while he won’t blow up statistically in the NFL like he did in college (111-1,540-18), he should step in fairly early and compliment Adam Thielen nicely.”

GPA: 3.59 (3.61 if you believe A+ is a real grade)

Jeff Gladney

Andy Benoit of SI.com: A. “Minnesota badly needed help at defensive back after losing Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander earlier this spring. Mike Zimmer historically prefers to develop cornerbacks from the bench in Year One, but with so few quality corners on the roster, don’t be surprised if Gladney starts in 2020—perhaps in a nickel slot role, which plays to his skill set. Zimmer’s corners are always sound tacklers. That, and blitzing, were two things Gladney did well at TCU.”

Mike Tanier of Bleacher Report: B-. “As with the Justin Jefferson selection earlier, Gladney directly fills one of the Vikings needs that opened up due to salary-cap constraints this offseason. It’s another safe, prudent selection. The Vikings are going to ride all of these safe, prudent selections all the way to an 8-8 record. At best.”

Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com: B. “It’s a need pick, no question about it. I like the player. There are some character concerns, that’s something they’ll have to address. Mike Zimmer loves to draft corners. This pick makes sense.”

Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News: A. “The Vikings needed to rebuild at cornerback after releasing Xavier Rhodes and not re-signing either Trae Waynes or Mackensie Alexander. Gladney (5-10, 191 pounds) is a good fit for Mike Zimmer’s defense because of his zone sensibility and inside-outside versatility. He is scrappy and aggressive in making plays on the ball, with a knack of being honed in on receivers’ routes.”

Luke Easterling of Draft Wire: A. “Minny’s secondary was a huge disappointment last year, but this pick is a huge win for them. These two picks make the Vikings early favorites to come away with this year’s best draft class.”

Eric Edholm of Yahoo Sports: B. “Gladney is a Mike Zimmer corner. The Vikings did a lot of work on the CB class and came away impressed with Gladney’s dog mentality – even if his size compromises his ability to combat taller receivers.”

WalterFootball.com: A. “The Vikings are getting a talented player who would’ve gone higher if it wasn’t for some off-the-field and injury issues. This pick seems like a steal, as Minnesota is filling a big need and getting a skilled player.”

Steven Ruiz of For the Win: B+. “Gladney is a playmaker who will immediately start in the Vikings depleted secondary. He’s a bit of a risk-taker, and that can get him into trouble. But it’s more of a positive than a negative. Gladney’s versatility makes him an ideal addition to Mike Zimmer’s defense.”

Danny Kelly of The Ringer: A. “Gladney is one of my favorite players in this class and fits an obvious need for the Vikings. The former Horned Frog has a wiry frame but plays with a ferocious demeanor, mixing quick feet and fluid hips in coverage. As a former high school receiver, he brings natural ball skills―both in finding the ball to swat it away or playing his receiver’s hands at the catch point―and recorded 45 contested targets over the past two seasons, most in college football. Gladney has the strength and speed to play on the outside and the change of direction and physicality to bump into the slot. He was my 22nd-ranked player in this class, so I love the value the Vikings get here at no. 31.”

Doug Farrar of Touchdown Wire: B. “Gladney will need to take the field right away, and he has the potential to do that in Mike Zimmer’s defense with his outstanding footwork, ball skills, and aggressiveness.”

Bryan Fischer of Athlon Sports: A-. “Such a Mike Zimmer pick. Gladney is going to be a great fit in the Twin Cities if healthy and really fits in well with what the defense will do. Opposing wideouts better get used to seeing him at the line of scrimmage.”

C.J. Doon of the Baltimore Sun: A-. “Gladney is a cornerback who some deemed worthy of a top-20 pick, so there’s no quibbling with the value here, especially after trading down. He also fills a position of need after the Vikings lost their top three corners from a season ago.”

The Detroit News: B+.

Dan Kadar of SB Nation: A. “This is a perfect fit for Mike Zimmer’s defense. Gladney is a nasty cornerback who will get physical with wide receivers. He’s aggressive coming up to play the run, and knows how to get off a block.”

Dustin Hockensmith of pennlive.com: B. “He was a fringe first-round talent whose selection made sense late in the first.”

Darryl Slater of NJ.com: A-. “Maybe he fell behind Igbinoghene due to a knee issue, but we like this pick for the Vikings, who just moved on from Xavier Rhodes.”

Loaded Box Podcast: B+. “Gladney’s name was gaining traction over the last couple of weeks as one of the top corners in the draft, so landing him at No. 31 is a solid pick for the Vikings as their secondary desperately needs help after losing Xavier Rhodes and Mackensie Alexander earlier this offseason.”

GPA: 3.51

Day 1

Chad Reuter of NFL.com: A. “They acquired a first-round pick in the trade with the Bills for receiver Stefon Diggs and chose LSU’s Justin Jefferson with the selection. They could not have hoped for much more. Jefferson will be the outside threat that they needed. He can win jump balls and work over the middle. That’s a solid selection without having to move up. The team’s other big need was cornerback, and they found a feisty corner in Gladney after trading back with the Niners, picking up fourth- and fifth-round selections to drop only six slots. He’s a solid value at an important position.”

Mike Cole of NESN: A. “They effectively replaced Diggs with Jefferson, who can be just as good and actually wants to be there. The Gladney pick satisfies the defensive-minded Mike Zimmer. An already good team got better.”

Joe Tansey of Bleacher Report: B. “Minnesota produced one of the smartest first rounds.”

Tim Bielek of Cleveland.com: A-. “Minnesota did a really good job of filling needs at receiver and corner. And they didn’t reach either with their two selections. Jefferson boosted his stock tremendously at the NFL combine and should be a great replacement for Stefon Diggs.”

Day 2

Chris Trapasso of CBSSports.com: Ezra Cleveland: A-. “Perfect fit in Vikings zone-blocking scheme because of his high-level short-area athleticism. Stellar pass-blocking technician. Needs to get stronger. Fills major need too.”; Cameron Dantzler: B+.

Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News: Cleveland: A-; Dantzler: A.

Luke Easterling of Draft Wire: Cleveland: C+.

Eric Edholm of Yahoo Sports: Cleveland: B-. “He has played both tackle spots and is a really nice athlete. Solid pick.”; Dantzler: B+. “We like Dantzler’s aggressive nature, but he might need to be a bit more technically sound for Mike Zimmer’s liking once the pads go on. Dantzler’s 4.63 combine 40 hurt his stock, but it felt like that number didn’t reflect his athletic ability. Another fine pick from the Vikings here.”

Andy Benoit of SI.com: Cleveland: C+. “Cleveland has many of the desired traits you look for in a left tackle, though some observers were concerned about what they perceive as his inconsistent competitiveness. But Cleveland’s high-level athleticism will fit well in a scheme that’s predicated on quickness and agility along the O-line.”; Dantzler: B+.

Mike Tanier of Bleacher Report: Cleveland: B.; Dantzler: B.

Steven Ruiz of For the Win: Cleveland: A. “This is the perfect spot to take a chance on a developmental prospect with first-round ability. There are glimpses of that ability all over Cleveland’s tape (and he tested well at the combine) but he’ll need to be more consistent with his technique to make it as a good starter in the NFL.”; Dantzler: B. “Dantzler is a thinner corner, but he’s fearless. The lack of speed is a concern, but the dude is just a good football player. Mike Zimmer will love him.”

WalterFootball.com: Cleveland: A.; Dantzler: A-.

Justin Leger of NBC Sports Boston: B+.

Chad Reuter of NFL.com: A-.

GPAs: Cleveland – 3.25 (8 grades); Dantzler – 3.31 (7 grades)

Day 3

Chris Trapasso of CBSSports.com: Wonnum: C- | Lynch: C- | Dye: A | Hand: C- | Osborn: C+ | Brandel: D+ | Metellus: C | Wilekes: A- | Stanley: C | Cole: B+ | Hinton: C+.

Mike Tanier of Bleacher Report: Wonnum: C- | Lynch: B | Dye: C | Hand: D- | Osborn: D | Brandel: Satisfactory | Metellus: Satisfactory | Wilekes: Excellent | Stanley: Satisfactory | Cole: Satisfactory | Hinton: Satisfactory.

WalterFootball.com: Wonnum: C+ | Lynch: A+ | Dye: A | Hand: C- | Osborn: C+ | Brandel: C- | Metellus: B | Wilekes: A+ | Stanley: C- | Cole: B | Hinton: C+.

Chad Reuter of NFL.com: A+.

Overall

Nate Davis of USA Today: A. “WR Justin Jefferson – seemingly an ideal sidekick for Adam Thielen – might be a steal at No. 22 while fellow first-rounder Jeff Gladney led a fleet of new corners, a position previously raided in free agency. Spielman also added to Mike Zimmer’s D-line rotation and might have found a new left tackle with highly regarded second-rounder Ezra Cleveland.”

Andy Benoit of SI.com: A-. “This was a workmanlike job by the Vikings, filling their roster’s myriar holes one by one.”

Ryan Dunleavy of the NY Post: A.

Dan Kadar of SB Nation: A. “The Vikings had one of the best drafts in the entire NFL this year.”

Logan Mullen of NESN: B. “Justin Jefferson is a fun player, and though he might not immediately replace Stefon Diggs, he’ll nevertheless be an important addition. And by the time the fourth round concluded, they had at least addressed their primary needs (receiver, cornerback, EDGE and offensive line). Now we just wait and see who pans out and keeps the Vikings as a win-now group.”

Pro Football Focus: A.

Tim Bielik of cleveland.com: A-. “Minnesota had a great first three picks, starting by grabbing Jefferson with the pick it got from the Bills for Stefon Diggs. Gladney was a good find at No. 31, and Cleveland should be a good tackle if he can add some strength. They added some more pieces all over the roster, including adding Danzler and Hand at corner. It made for a good and balanced draft, along with a busy one, for the Vikings.”

Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News: A+. “Congratulations to Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer. Not only did the Vikings maneuver to gain insane volume (16 picks), they also knew they exactly what to do with them. They got their wideout to replace Stefon Diggs, and corners to replace Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander. In true Zimmer fashion, they also reinforced their defensive front seven nicely and had room to get a potential left tackle of the near future. That’s incredible.”

NFL editors at The Score: B+

Chad Reuter of NFL.com: A. “GM Rick Spielman knew picking multiple cornerbacks (two on Day 1, one on Day 3) was a must, as was finding a receiver to replace Stefon Diggs and creating more competition on the offensive line. He hit all the notes in Rounds 1-3.”

GPA: 3.77 (3.89 if you think A+ is a real grade).

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