It’s been over a week since the conclusion of the 2015 NFL Draft – time enough for most to settle in with their feelings on how the Vikings faired. We’ve shared the thoughts of other “draft experts” on how the Vikings 2015 draft class ranks but thought we should go on the record with our own individual grades, both collectively and individually.
I know there are some who believe trying to grade a draft class before any of them have taken the field is a futile endeavor. Well, it goes without saying that this is all educated speculation. I mean, we never really know for a fact how any player is going to turn out, but that doesn’t stop us from creating big boards and ranking them. We don’t know which teams are going to draft who (usually), but that doesn’t stop us from taking the information we have to make an informed guess. We don’t ever know how an upcoming season is going to pan out in the Summer months, but that doesn’t stop us from making predictions. My point is: none of this is definitive, but that doesn’t mean it’s a meaningless exercise. The alternative is just saying “Hey, it’s way too early for me to make any assumptions on how this draft class will turn out,” and leaving it at that.
But, really? That’s no fun, is it?
So on to the grades: Every staff member of Vikings Territory was polled for their personal grades for each individual selection. These grades were then converted to numbers on your typical GPA scale and averaged out per player. The individual player grades were then averaged out, with more weight being given to earlier round selections, to create a consensus, overall draft grade for Vikings Territory.
Let’s start with individual selection grades. I asked our writers to provide a brief explanation to accompany their grade if they happened to be the highest or lowest grade for that player. Although, there were some instances where there were no “low grades” or “high grades” and, in those cases, explanations were omitted.
Round 1, Pick 11 (11)
Trae Waynes, CB – Michigan State
High: Unlike many, I viewed Trae Waynes as the clear top cornerback choice in the 2015 NFL season, and believe he has the skill set and physical traits to warrant a top ten selection. To get him at #11 was a great value that will pay off big time for the Vikings in the years to come. Be patient, though, Vikings fans…even first round corners like Xavier Rhodes take time to get their sea legs. – Adam Warwas
Low: Waynes might fit what Minnesota wants and was obviously hand-picked by Mike Zimmer, but his physical talent is that of a second-round player. The Vikings didn’t acquire a special player with such a high pick. – Darren Page
Round 2, Pick 13 (45)
Eric Kendricks, LB – UCLA
High: I think Kendricks was the Vikings’ best pick of the Draft, even though he wasn’t the first pick. Beyond the fundamental aspects of his athleticism and impressive combine results, Kendricks demonstrates a depth of character and football I.Q. that will benefit the team immediately. Being a fifth-year senior, Kendricks seems well prepared to make the transition into the NFL, and I don’t think there will be as large of a learning curve as can sometimes be expected of rookies. The fact that he and Anthony Barr were teammates at UCLA and have that on-field chemistry is huge. Finally, he will also be a good option as Greenway makes his way in the next year or two. – Lindsey Young
Low: No low grades
Round 3, Pick 24 (88)
Danielle Hunter, DE – LSU
High: I loved the Danielle Hunter pick. Seen as a raw, yet supremely athletic prospect, Hunter steps into the perfect situation in Minnesota. He’ll sit behind Brian Robison during the season, and spend training camp developing his pass rush moves under the tutelage of Mike Zimmer. Few expect Hunter to contribute immediately, but he can crack one of Zimmer’s infamous defensive line rotations as a pass rusher in third down situations throughout the season. As Carl wrote before the draft, Hunter may very well become Michael Johnson 2.0. – Austin Belisle
Low: I like a project as much as the next, but grabbing a guy a raw as Hunter in the 3rd — where you could have grabbed an immediate contributor — seems like a stretch. Hopefully I’m wrong. The Vikings have a recent track record of drafting heir apparent DEs in the mid rounds (B-Rob, Everson, Crichton), so it’s not inconceivable that Hunter could be starting or at least being a significant part of the rotation in three years. But it wouldn’t shock me if he struggles to see the field this season. Which would make two years in a row we spend a 3rd round pick on a defensive end who doesn’t play as a rookie. – Andy Carlson
Round 4, Pick 11 (110)
T.J. Clemmings, OL – Pittsburgh
High: With massive upside and pro bowl potential, the Vikings always seem to pounce on a falling first-round talent, this time T.J. Clemmings out of Pitt. Despite being as raw as sushi, Clemmings was still one of the best run-blocking tackles in the country, living on instinct and physical skill without any technique or consistency. Grabbing this player at a potential position of need is great, in part because they won’t be pressured to start him and he can be one of the best players at his position soon. – Arif Hasan
Low: No low grades
Round 5, Pick 7 (143)
MyCole Pruitt, TE – Southern Illinois
High: I don’t like to ding picks based on need in the late rounds. Pruitt should be able to make the team and find a role eventually as one of the most athletic tight ends in the class, even though the Vikings likely see him as an H-back. – Darren Page
Low: Though Pruitt has the athleticism to thrive as a pass catcher, the Vikings already have quite a bit of depth at tight end. It will likely take an injury to someone currently on the roster for him to break through and see the field. The Vikings flirted with a similar type tight end in A.C. Leonard and that didn’t quite pan out. Nothing about Pruitt makes me think his situation is any more optimistic. – Brett Anderson
Round 5, Pick 10 (146)
Stefon Diggs, WR – Maryland
High: I was preaching for the Vikings to draft a splashy offensive playmaker, so, my high grade may just be a simple reflection of my desire to add weapons around Teddy Bridgewater.
Stefon Diggs is dynamic and dangerous with the ball in his hands. Sudden once he’s in space, great acceleration with impressive lateral change of direction ability to make defenders miss. He is a versatile player who can play in the slot, on the outside and contribute on special teams.
This isn’t going to be a popular pick because Jarius Wright is well liked in Minnesota. Wright is a free agent at the end of the season, so, the Diggs pick might just be insurance. But make no mistake, for a fifth round pick, the Vikings landed an awful lot of talent and explosiveness in Diggs. – Carl Knowles
Low: For a smaller receiver, Diggs tested out worse than he needed to athletically and his tape was tough to watch from 2014. He never lived up to his billing as a high school prospect during his time at Maryland. Does he add something the offense is lacking? – Darren Page
Round 6, Pick 9 (185)
Tyrus Thompson, OL – Oklahoma
High: I am typically a fan of investing in consistency over upside at offensive line positions, but the Thompson and Clemmings picks are both in good slots to invest in upside, with Thompson’s length, agility and speed giving him fantastic potential. Some of his games for OU were better than any Ereck Flowers, Brandon Scherff or Andrus Peat put together, though his lows were low. If he does indeed pass the character filter, the Vikings could have found their long-term Phil Loadholt replacement without having to invest in a high pick. Even without much growth, Thompson is a better backup than most backup OL in the NFL. – Arif Hasan
Low: Offensive line depth was a priority coming into the draft, so the Thompson pick makes sense. I’m just not in love with the prospect himself. Yes, much is made about his solid upbringing and that he’s mature off the field (family man), but the term “lazy” gets thrown around way too much and way too early and often for my liking. He seems to have Loadholt’s size (and alma mater and number), but lacks the nastiness that Phil brings to the table. We’ll see if Thompson brings it. Plenty of competition coming into this year’s camp. – Andy Carlson
Round 6, Pick 17 (193)
B.J. Dubose, DE – Louisville
High: No high grades
Low: I don’t see much boom potential here, but I see some bust potential. I’m happy to see someone selected that gives us hope for the run defense, and his versatility and strength are attractive, but I also see a guy that is going to have to make a career out of being unspectacular. I just don’t see him getting any higher on the depth chart than third tier. I hope he proves me wrong. – Adam Warwas
Round 7, Pick 11 (228)
Austin Shepherd, OL – Alabama
High: Though there was some great value at other positions left on the board when Austin Shepherd had his name called, I’m okay with the selection because of the Vikings glaring need at Guard. Though Shepherd played tackle at Alabama, his game and skills make him a better fit inside in the NFL. He has the power, toughness and plays with a mean streak. Though he has some work to do in pass protection, Shepherd could be a mauler at the next level and is an interesting developmental prospect. – Brett Anderson
Low: After T.J. Clemmings and Tyrus Thompson were selected, I saw little value in grabbing another offensive lineman that clearly has less upside than the two picked ahead of him. At this point, it is a numbers game and Shepherd’s ability to make the final roster will probably rely more on the injury report than it will his talent level. I see the practice squad in his future, which is fine. I’m just bitter we didn’t get a punter. – Adam Warwas
Round 7, Pick 15 (232)
Edmond Robinson, LB – Newberry
High: This is exactly the type of pick you love to see in the seventh round: a flyer on a super athletic, raw play-maker from Newberry, a school that hasn’t had a player drafted to the NFL since 1974. Robinson’s measurables are off the charts. With some guidance and instruction from Mike Zimmer, Robinson has a high ceiling and could end up being a great value addition. – Brett Anderson
Low: Edmond Robinson fits in the “long, athletic” mold that Mike Zimmer likes for his defenders and he could develop into something more than a practice squad/special teams contributor. But I was standing on the table for the Vikings to call La’el Collins’ agent’s bluff that he wouldn’t play if selected after the 3rd round. I think there’s no where he would have sat out a year and missed an NFL paycheck, yes a 7th round paycheck, but still more than he (probably) made at LSU. Robinson might end up being decent. He might also end up not making it past the 90-man roster. I would’ve loved to have seen the Vikings buy a lotto ticket in the La’el Collins Powerball. – Andy Carlson