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Minnesota Vikings Draft Analysis & Grades

A Dozen New Vikings Head to Camp as Minnesota’s 2019 Draft Class

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.

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Sam Shefrin

Sam Shefrin likes to write about sports betting and daily fantasy sports. Sam's work has been seen on Lineups.com, DepthCharts.com and Daily Fantasy Cafe. Sam will be looking at the betting side of the Vikings. He was born in Hawaii, but doesn't surf. You can follow him on twitter @samshefrin https://twitter.com/samshefrin

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12 Comments

  1. I think your analysis is amateurish and you should go back and research the players and needs of this team, no need in the interior of the line, yep smoke another bro.

    1. One point immediately comes to mind. This makes the second Rimington Trophy winner the Vikes have taken since 2016.

      Not sure what aspect of Pat Elflein the staff does not like, but when you add another Rimington winner on top of a three-year player, it sort of sends a message. Maybe Elfiein’s injury outlook is worse than what’s being reported. Maybe?

      They also traded for Brett Jones a year ago this coming August, then re-signed him on April 1st. Kind of an April Fool’s joke to bring in a third center 3-weeks later.

      1. Hey man!

        Isn’t this fun? Haha!

        I posted this twice elsewhere but I think people are confusing the word “Middle” with “interior”. Like you said the interior of the offensive line wasn’t a concern. It’s the main thing people talked about for YEARS (myself especially… Good for me!), but not everyone thought they’d do what you just said which is draft another top center this soon. Sure, Elflein had a sophomore slump, but he was injured and surrounded by nothing. He also has said he’s more “comfortable” at guard, so there’s that.

        But I get what you’re saying and that’s why when I read this before posting I didn’t think it was some glaring mistake or oversight. You clearly know what you’re talking about, it’s just that this can be a thankless endeavour especially when making declarative statements or rankings (as people either think it’s too high or too low) or they form different conclusions.

        That’s why my first drafts of articles are always 5,000 words. Because I over-explain EVERYTHING (with lots of parenthesis to further explain what I mean, clearly, look at this comment, haha) because people can get the wrong impression. That being said, that’s their right too, but there is objective right and wrong and also what the INTENT was and I believe your intent makes sense it’s just that the word Middle can mean two things, clearly.

        Welcome to the team, though? 🙂

    2. We love comments, and I’m not trying to argue with you but I will say my interpretation was that not everyone thought the Vikes would draft another CENTER (middle as in Center, not middle as in guard/center/guard) as they had Elflein who showed promise his rookie year and was injured and playing next to objective garbage on both sides last year.

      So, I think people think he meant the INTERIOR, not the MIDDLE as in CENTER. Now, that’s not to say that Elflein won’t be better or “more comfortable” at guard, or that SOME didn’t see the Bradbury thing coming or necessary, just that I think people are taking the “Middle” as “Interior” when he meant “center”.

      That’s how I intrepeted it, anyway and I think that’s supported by the language after that, which is that the Vikings couldn’t let Bradbury get by despite drafting Elflein to play center two years ago?

  2. The middle of the Vikings offensive line wasn’t deemed a weakness heading into this year’s draft. I do not know what team you were watching last season. the interior (including center) was the worst in the league. At 18, what player would you have taken to get an A?

    1. Not saying Bradbury isn’t talent, and Jones wasn’t a force when he did play last year, but I seriously doubt if Minnesota keeps three centers on the active roster. Including the 18th pick Bradbury, they will open camp with six.

      I didn’t think a B+ was too awful of an assessment for that selection. There was one other aspect to that grade. Minnesota was middle of the pack against the run last season.

    2. Hey Paul!

      I responded to your email and hopped on and wanted to just add what I said to another commenter… Again, I appreciate the support and feedback but based on what I read (after the email)…

      We love comments, and I’m not trying to argue with you but I will say my interpretation was that not everyone thought the Vikes would draft another CENTER (middle as in Center, not middle as in guard/center/guard) as they had Elflein who showed promise his rookie year and was injured and playing next to objective garbage on both sides last year.

      So, I think people think he meant the INTERIOR, not the MIDDLE as in CENTER. Now, that’s not to say that Elflein won’t be better or “more comfortable” at guard, or that SOME didn’t see the Bradbury thing coming or necessary, just that I think people are taking the “Middle” as “Interior” when he meant “center”.

      That’s how I intrepeted it, anyway and I think that’s supported by the language after that, which is that the Vikings couldn’t let Bradbury get by despite drafting Elflein to play center two years ago?

  3. The great thing about Bradbury\ Elflein\Jones is they can all play OG and Center while Kline can play both sides at OG and I read somewhere he has even played a little Center~

    Bradbury\ Elflein did very well based on what I have read about their college days when they were ask to play OG then made the move to Center~

    I think the OL should be very good this year~

  4. Hey Sam, thank you for replying to posts. I agree with Paul, the Vikings addressed a serious weakness with a top notch player that is an A. The middle of the D against the run was not as high a need as better interior blocking.

  5. Good discussion here! You can certainly debate Andre Dillard (OT), Jawaan Taylor (OT/G), or Cody Ford (OT/G) at pick 18 for the Vikings. However, Elflein DIDN”T perform well after shoulder and ankle surgeries to begin his second year at center for the Vikings. A PFF grade of 41.9, #38 in the league is NOT on par for a Rimington Trophy winner. I can only trust that Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison got the offensive lineman they coveted in this draft class.

    Josh Kline and Elflein need to get the job done at the guard spots in 2019.

    Zimmer wants to run the ball, and that is the only reason Dillard (a great pass blocker) wasn’t drafted by the Vikings in round one. Taylor and Ford are great run blockers (and versatile enough to play inside or outside), unfortunately, they don’t have good NFL arm length.

    Very tough call to make at pick 18,… but I feel good that Garrett Bradbury has a very high ceiling. B+ is an acceptable grade for the Vikings’ first round pick.

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