Minnesota Vikings Draft Analysis & Grades

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The 2019 draft results will put a lot of new faces in the Minnesota Vikings locker room. Minnesota selected one player in each of the first five rounds and then loaded up with seven total picks in the final two. You can find the full Vikings Depth Chart and Viking Roster on lineups.com.

The Vikings staff manipulated four third-round trades, plus a trio of moves in the fourth and fifth rounds to add quantity. With seven new players taken in the latter two rounds, much remains to be seen about how successful this strategy will be. Here’s a player-by-player look at the 2019 Vikings draft class.

Garrett Bradbury, Center – Grade B+ (1st round, 18th pick)

The middle of the Vikings offensive line wasn’t deemed a weakness heading into this year’s draft. Bradbury will make the fifth center on the roster heading into camp. It seems the Vikings could not pass up an opportunity to take their second Rimington Trophy winner in the last four years.

Bradbury is a power blocker with nimble feet. He started at North Carolina State as a tight end. With three talented centers on the roster, look for Minnesota to possibly trade one or more of their top snappers. You can expect Bradbury to immediately challenge for the starting spot.

Irv Smith Jr, Tight End – Grade A (2nd round, 50th pick)

With the 50th overall pick, Minnesota went with a legacy. Smith is the son of a former first-round pick by the New Orleans Saints. The younger Smith Jr played three-seasons at Alabama, while his father played for the Fighting Irish.

Irv Smith Jr left college a year early after catching 44 passes for the NCAA runner-up Crimson Tide. He is viewed as a raw talent with excellent hands. His route running precision makes him a perfect fit for the Viking offense.

Alexander Mattison, Running Back – Grade C (3rd round, 102nd pick)

Some in the draft room were kind of scratching their heads with this pick. Mattison is versatile back, somewhat cut from the same mold as Dalvin Cook. Something could be said about the Viking’s perceived opinion of Cook’s durability.

Mattison carried the load at Boise State, averaging nearly 30 carries per game. Whether he proves to be a feature back in the NFL remains to be seen. He has average speed and size, and his pass catching ability expands his versatility.

Dru Samia, Guard – Grade A (4th round, 114th pick)

While he wasn’t taken until the fourth round, some think Samia may be the Vikings biggest draft sleeper. He comes from a prominent program at Oklahoma and is an imposing run blocker. His experience in a run scheme similar to the one Minnesota uses will be to his advantage. Samia may not start immediately, but look for him to force play at the left guard position early.

Cameron Smith, Linebacker – Grade C (5th round, 162nd pick)

Out of high school, Smith was top-level recruit by the USC Trojans. While he never performed up to his expected All-American potential, he was a solid linebacker for the Trojans. He led the team in tackles his senior season. Smith is somewhat undersized for an NFL linebacker, but scouts consider him a brilliant player and veracious student of the game.

Armon Watts, Defensive Tackle – Grade C (6th round, 190th pick)

The first of three sixth-round selections would be another head-scratcher. Watts didn’t manage to become a starter for Arkansas until his final season. He is a massive interior lineman, adept at clogging the middle. With such a small body of work to analyze, scouts envision Watts as a definite project type player.

Marcus Epps, Safety – Grade B (6th round, 191st pick)

Minnesota fans didn’t have to wait long for the next Viking selection. Minnesota immediately took Epps out of Wyoming. Epps is noted as a vigilant worker and was initially a walk-on for the Cowboys. Epps is a solid pass defender, and very adept at filling the gaps on run defense.

Olisaemeka Udoh, Offensive Tackle – Grade C (6th round, 193rd pick)

The Vikings picked a third time in the sixth-round just two picks after Epps. There might have been a mild gasp of surprise with the calling of Udoh’s name. Udoh is another player deemed a solid student of the game. He is also a massive 323 pounds with excellent speed for a tackle. Without a big-college pedigree, he is a development project that could turn into a sleeper.

Kris Boyd, Defensive Back – Grade C- (7th round, 217th pick)

The Vikings started their series of four 4th round selections with Texas cornerback Kris Boyd. Scouts don’t rank Boyd as fast or agile. In fact, he didn’t earn high marks in any aspect of pass defense. He does warrant consideration as a hard tackler and tenacious player. Boyd may have been targeted for his special teams’ potential as much as a member of the Viking defense.

Dillon Mitchell, Wide Receiver – Grade B (7th round, 239th pick)

With their second selection in the seventh-round Minnesota took the first of two pass catchers. Mitchell is ranked highly by some scouts, and low by others. He showed flashes of brilliance during his junior and final season for the Oregon Ducks. Mitchell now owns the Ducks’ record for yardage in a season, plus found the end zone 10 times in 2018.

Olabisi Johnson, Wide Receiver – Grade C (7th round, 250th pick)

Eight picks later in the seventh round, Minnesota went with another wide out. Colorado State Ram Olabisi Johnson is another potential late-round sleeper. He runs precise routes, but isn’t marked as a speedster. He played well for the Rams as a secondary option in their offense, and will be asked eventually to do the same in Minnesota.

Austin Cutting, Long Snapper – Grade C (7th round, 217th pick)

Certainly odd to spend a draft pick on a long snapper, but that is Cutting’s most impressive talent. Since the Air Force grad was rumored to be signed quickly by another team after the final round ended, Minnesota felt a fourth late-round pick was a low price to pay for such an important duty. Cutting is rated as one of the sharpest long-snappers to come out of college.

Vikings Overall Draft Grade B-

Bradbury fits perfectly into Minnesota’s offensive scheme. He will present a challenge immediately as the starting center. Great centers are hard to come by, so this should turn out to be a good pick for the Vikings.

The star luster around Kyle Rudolph has waned the past two seasons, so the drafting of a tight end is not a surprise. Smith Jr. is a physical specimen and will work well in the Viking’s two-tight end sets. Mattison is seen as a complement to Cooks, but Samia could be the Viking’s biggest surprise.

The rest of the 2019 draft class will not be necessarily counted on to make an immediate impact. Minnesota filled a need, and added some depth. The Vikings staff earns an overall B- grade, in no small part for manipulating their way to adding a dozen new faces for 2019.