As we prepare for the 2013 NFL Draft in these parts I came to the realization that the very first Draft I covered as a blogger, the 2009 Draft class, have all completed their rookie contracts, and I can now be held accountable for the grades I assigned the Vikings back in my first days of blogging at VikingsGab.com.

Every year we dismiss draft grades as useless opinions that couldn’t possibly be accurate prior to these guys even stepping on an NFL field.  With the career paths of the 2009 class now taking shape, however, I thought it’d be fun to go back and see just how useless my grades were exactly.  The entire post of my 2009 draft grades an analysis can be read right here.

WR Percy Harvin (First Round, Pick 22)

What I said then:

GRADE:  “C”          There is no denying that Harvin could become a premier player with his game changing abilities, but he also runs the risk of doing more damage than good if his character flaws come out again.  For now a “C” until he earns the respect of Minnesota fans.  The fact that he was chosen over offensive tackle Michael Oher is another reason why I didn’t give the Vikings a higher grade here.

What I say now:

The Vikings ended up getting an elite talent out of Harvin, but health and character issues did indeed taint his time in Minnesota, which ended up seeing him shipped to Seattle for three picks including the 25th overall selection this year.  Harvin was that year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year and made multiple Pro Bowls as a return man.  I was wrong about Michael Oher being the superior player here, but only one of those two guys is still with the team that drafted him.

OT Phil Loadholt (Second Round, Pick 54)

What I said then:

GRADE: “A-”          Loadholt was not really expected to fall to the Vikings in the second round, but quite a few of the top tackle prospects fell.  It is obvious that he is one of the most impressive tackle prospects as far as measurables go, and after visiting with Loadholt multiple times the Vikings obviously felt like he is the right fit.  Loadholt should become an instant starter and be a dominant tackle for years to come.

What I say now:

The starting right tackle for the Vikings has had has ups and downs over the last four years, but he took major steps forwards last season, helping to pave the way for Adrian Peterson’s historic season.  He will probably never be close to an elite pass blocker, especially when matched up against speedy ends, but he has improved in that area and is quite possibly the best run blocking tackle in the league.  The team rewarded Loadholt this offseason by making him one of the highest paid right tackles in the NFL.

CB Asher Allen (Third Round, Pick 86)

What I said then:

GRADE: “B-”         By drafting Allen, the Vikes added their ninth cornerback to the roster.  I don’t really see what Allen brings to the table that guys like Benny Sapp, Charles Gordon, and Karl Paymah don’t already possess.  In fact, I couldn’t even find a highlight reel for the undersized corner.  That being said, Allen is thought to be a tough and skilled player at the position.  While he’ll never be quite as good as Winfield, he plays a similar game.

What I say now:

Allen is a good guy, but had I known he would be playing terrible football for a couple of years and then abruptly retire from football forever, I surely would have given this pick an “F.”  It is tough to blame Allen, who struggled with concussions, for deciding to pursue another path in life.  He currently volunteers his time as a full time minister and as a blogger for the Midwest Dairy Association.  It is nice to see that Allen’s early exit wasn’t your typical waste-of-talent-gets-in-trouble story we hear so often, but it is hard to argue that this was anything other than a waste of a draft pick.

LB Jasper Brinkley (Fifth Round, Pick 150)

What I said then:

GRADE: “A”          As far as I’m concerned, trading up to snag this kid was one of the smarter moves the Vikings front office made all day.  Linebacker depth was a definite need, and Brinkley has tremendous value for a fifth round pick in that respect.  Do not be surprised to see him make an immediate impact on special teams, and eventually become a starter in this league.

What I say now:

Brinkley did become a starter, and hasn’t had the worst career for a fifth rounder, but he was not overly impressive.  His downhill, pounding style of play was far more attractive four years ago.  As the NFC North becomes more and more of a passing based division, and the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, you just have to have more athletic guys manning the middle in a Tampa-2 scheme.  Brinkley may benefit from a change in scenery after the Vikings willingly let him leave in free agency following his disappointing season as the starting middle linebacker.

S Jamarca Sanford (Seventh Round, Pick 231)

What I said then:

GRADE: “B+”           Again, this is a pick that carries great value.  There is no reason why Sanford shouldn’t have gone in an earlier round, so the Vikings got a real steal here.  The fact that he was made captain on his team suggests that his character concerns really are buried in the past, and that the Vikings had a very solid prospect fall right into their laps late in the game.

What I say now:

Sanford has been providing special teams value, and shows an ability to be a spot starter, and the Vikings retained him this offseason.  Sanford couldn’t catch a cold and isn’t the greatest in coverage, but he has a knack for causing fumbles and is a pretty decent run stopping safety.  Sanford is a perfect player to have on the roster as he isn’t so expensive that he can’t be benched for superior talent, but he also can step in and take care of business if need be.