The ‘Grades’ Are in for Vikings Top 2 FA Moves

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During week No. 1 of NFL free agency, the Minnesota Vikings welcomed Josh Oliver (TE, Ravens), Marcus Davenport (EDGE, Saints), Byron Murphy (CB, Cardinals), and Dean Lowry (DT, Packers) and lost Cameron Dantzler (CB, Commanders), Eric Kendricks (LB, Chargers), Patrick Peterson (CB, Steelers), Adam Thielen (WR, Panthers), and Dalvin Tomlinson (DT, Browns).

The week was busy, and more roster construction is on the way.

The ‘Grades’ Are in for Vikings Top 2 FA Moves

And because NFL media is fixated on “grades” before players even get onto the field for new teams, the Vikings were assigned a couple of marks by ESPN on the Murphy and Davenport acquisitions.

Vikings Top 2
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Davenport, a newcomer from the Saints, figures to replace Za’Darius Smith this September. About a week and a half ago, Smith said goodbye to Minnesotans on social media but curiously hasn’t left the franchise as of March 19th. However, he no longer wants to play for the Vikings, so Davenport feels like “the new Za’Darius.”

Grading the Top 50 free-agent moves to date, ESPN slapped a ‘B+’ onto Davenport’s addition to the Vikings roster. Seth Walder wrote, “There are definitely reasons to be skeptical of Davenport, but I’m on board with taking a low-risk one-year chance on him. He managed just half a sack last season in New Orleans while posting a 14% pass rush win rate at edge, a shade below the 16% average for edge rushers.”

“If Davenport returns to his 2021 form (or ascends further), then the Vikings are the immediate beneficiary. They would have to pay up to keep him then, but they would have the first chance to do so and/or could land a compensatory pick if he walks. It’s a good problem to have,” he added.

The knock on Davenport is durability and consistency, but with 1st-Round draft stock, pairing with Danielle Hunter should become a profitable career transaction for the 26-year-old.

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ESPN was also complimentary of the Murphy deal, awarding a ‘B’ to the Vikings for the signing. Walder explained the grade, “The Vikings needed to add corner help. In Murphy, they get a relatively young (25) but experienced corner who has spent time both outside and covering the slot. Murphy’s numbers are just OK, though.”

“But because it’s just a two-year deal, I’m guessing this is really a one-year commitment. I don’t mind it as a low-risk maneuver. Even if not elite, a reliable corner is still a valuable addition — and Murphy’s age means there is still some upside here, too,” he concluded.

Vikings Fans Have a Clear Plan for the First-Round Pick
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Murphy instantly grabs a CB1 title in a Vikings otherwise questionable CB room that includes Andrew Booth and Akayleb Evans. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah must sign one more free-agent cornerback to shore up the group, draft a 1st-Rounder like Deonte Banks or Devon Witherspoon, or re-sign Duke Shelley who is readily available to return in Minnesota.

Veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson departed for the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, and ESPN gave that free-agent relationship a ‘B+.’ The Browns were allotted a ‘C+’ for former Vikings defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson’s arrival.

ESPN was most smitten with Orlando Brown to the Cincinnati Bengals, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson to Detroit, Jakobi Meyers to the Raiders, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo to the Browns, David Long to Miami, and T.J. Edwards to the Bears. All six moves received an ‘A.’

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).

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