PFF’s Dramatic Slide for Vikings after Draft

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Minnesota Vikings fans might’ve been somewhat impressed with the team’s draft class and undrafted free-agent haul, but Pro Football Focus was not.

The Vikings added these six men in the 2023 NFL Draft:

  • R1: Jordan Addison (WR, USC)
  • R3: Mekhi Blackmon (CB, USC)
  • R4: Jay Ward (S, LSU)
  • R5: Jaquelin Roy (DT, LSU)
  • R5: Jaren Hall (QB, BYU)
  • R7: DeWayne McBride (RB, UAB)

PFF’s Dramatic Slide for Vikings after Draft

And these 15 players came aboard as UDFAs:

  • Alan Ali (OL, TCU)
  • Calvin Avery (DT, Illinois)
  • Abraham Beauplan (ILB, Marshall)
  • Andre Carter II (EDGE, Army)
  • Jacky Chen (OL, Pace)
  • C.J. Coldon (CB, Oklahoma)
  • Wilson Huber (ILB, Cincinnati)
  • Cephus Johnson (WR, SE Louisiana)
  • Malik Knowles (WR, Kansas State)
  • Ivan Pace, Jr. (ILB, Cincinnati)
  • Jack Podlesny (K, Georgia)
  • Ben Sims (TE, Baylor)
  • Thayer Thomas (WR, N.C. State)
  • NaJee Thompson (CB, Georgia Southern)
  • Jaylin Williams (CB, Indiana)

Heading into the draft, PFF ranked the Vikings as the NFL’s eighth-best team, a suitable position for a team that finished 13-4 in 2022. However, after the event, Minnesota fell six spots to the No. 14 ladder plank.

Dramatic Slide
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Oddly, PFF’s Amelia Probst and Arjun Menon didn’t really explain the tumble, instead recapping the draft class. They wrote, “In free agency, the Vikings added tight end Josh Oliver, who has been injury prone but is a promising signing nonetheless. They also signed an elite edge defender in Marcus Davenport. Minnesota finished 2022 with a 78.4 team coverage grade, ranking 18th in the NFL.”

“With Patrick Peterson, Cameron Dantzler, Duke Shelley and Chandon Sullivan moving on in free agency, they need more depth at cornerback. Their newest cornerback, rookie Mekhi Blackmon, may make an immediate impact. Blackmon played 907 snaps from which he produced a 90.6 PFF grade and allowed a catch on just 47.6% of the passes thrown into his coverage. He missed only two tackles in 2022,” PFF concluded about the Vikings draft.

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So, they loved the Blackmon selection — his PFF grades were off the charts at USC — but remain skittish about the cornerback room, which is fair. Byron Murphy, a free-agent newcomer, is the only CB guaranteed to start, while Andrew Booth, Akayleb Evans, Joejuan Williams, and the rookie Blackmon will duke it out the summer for starting jobs and playing time.

Two other teams fell more dramatically than the Vikings after the draft, according to PFF. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers tumbled from No. 11 to No. 21, and Minnesota’s rival, the Chicago Bears, dipped from 19 to 26. Strange days.

Open for Business
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Around 14th in business seems like the consensus spot for Minnesota, with minicamp about a month away. NBC Sports’ Peter King assigned the Vikings the 14th spot, too, this week.

The Vikings will try to win the NFC North in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2008 and 2009 when September rolls around.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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