Vikings Final ‘Draft Grade’ Didn’t Tell Whole Story

Have Hybrid Gig
Rookie minicamp highlights from Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison's first practice as a Viking after being selected in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Addison played at the University of Pittsburgh and USC in college.

German NFL analyst René Bugner cracked the code this week, tabulating every team’s NFL Draft grade and compiling an overall score.

The process is thorough and insightful; his work should be commended.

Vikings Final ‘Draft Grade’ Didn’t Tell Whole Story

Here’s the tweet and graphic:

The Vikings lived at 23rd with a 2.66 GPA — or 10th-worst in the business. While that’s fine and dandy to adjudicate Minnesota’s picks with such a mark, the 2.66 doesn’t tell the Vikings full 2023 draft story.

Here’s what’s missing:

The T.J. Hockenson Trade

Tell Whole
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) walks off the field after the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

On November 1st, 2022, the Vikings traded a 2nd-Round pick from 2023 and a 2024 3rd-Round pick to the Detroit Lions for tight end T.J. Hockenson, a 2023 4th-Round pick, and a conditional 2024 4th-Round pick. The club traded down two rounds in 2023 and one in 2024 to land Hockenson.

One might roll her eyes at this, but the trail of evidence is undeniable — Hockenson was the Vikings 2nd-Round pick in 2023. Plain and simple.

Then, if the Vikings don’t win a playoff game in 2023, they’ll get an extra 4th-Rounder next April. Should Minnesota win a playoff game — let’s hope so — the pick becomes a 5th-Rounder.

Hockenson was magnificent in his first 10 games as a Viking, grabbing 60 catches and ‘saving’ the Vikings sometimes-stalled offense. Spanned to a full season, that’s 102 receptions for Hockenson.

If you want to know why Minnesota couldn’t be a part of the Joey Porter Jr. sweepstakes on Draft Night No. 1 heading into Draft Night No. 2, it was because they had no Round 2 draft capital to move up. Hockenson is Round 2 draft capital.

The Akayleb Evans Trade

as April Arrives
Oct 16, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Akayleb Evans (21) after a game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah spent a 2022 5th-Rounder and 2023 4th-Rounder on Evans, who performed quite well as a rookie when he wasn’t concussed.

Entering his second campaign this September, Evans has tweaked his tackling technique and will compete for a starter’s job next to free-agent newcomer Byron Murphy. If he ends up starting — a very palpable possibility — the Vikings will have received a starting cornerback for a 2023 4th-Round draft pick. Not bad.

The Undrafted Free Agents

Sep 17, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. (0) reacts after a play against the Miami Redhawks in the second half at Paycor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports.

Soon after the draft, Adofo-Mensah sprinted to his UDFA bat phone, onboarding undrafted talents like LB Ivan Pace Jr., EDGE Andre Carter II, and WR Malik Knowles. Pace Jr. and Carter II are close to locks in making the Vikings active roster or practice squad. Adofo-Mensah afforded each ample UDFA contracts.

Not every team landed a Pace Jr. or Carter II as undrafted free agents. The Vikings somehow had the special sauce to lure them in. Both were supposed to be mid-to-late-round picks at the end of April but curiously fell off general managers’ draft boards.

What the Draft Class Should Look Like

Lottery Ticket QB
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on before the game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

For you draft hounds at home, this is the team’s full 2023 draft class with total context:

  • R1: Jordan Addison (WR)
  • R2: T.J. Hockenson (TE)
  • R3: Mekhi Blackmon (CB)
  • R4: Akayleb Evans (CB)
  • R4: Jay Ward (S)
  • R5: Jaquelin Roy (DT)
  • R5: Jaren Hall (QB)
  • R6: Ross Blacklock (DT)
  • R7: Jalen Reagor (WR)
  • R7: DeWayne McBride (RB)
  • UDFA: Ivan Pace Jr. (LB)
  • UDFA: Andre Carter II (EDGE)
    a 2024 4th-Round Pick
    a 2025 5th-Round Pick

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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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