Vikings Draft Grade from ESPN Is Blah

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Are you pretty stoked about the Minnesota Vikings’ draft haul from last week? Not everyone shares the excitement.

Vikings Draft Grade from ESPN Is Blah

Minnesota used Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft to select quarterback J.J. McCarthy of Michigan and outside linebacker Dallas Turner from Alabama. Virtually no Vikings fan believed both men were attainable, as general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was expected to trade his 1st-Round assets for a quarterback of the future. But on draft night, McCarthy slid to pick No. 10, where the young executive pulled the trigger on a trade with the New York Jets — while keeping his 23rd overall pick in-house. He then picked Turner after an expensive trade to the 17th spot with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Vikings QB
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) takes a moment to watch TCU celebrate after Michigan lost, 51-45, at the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 31, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. © Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Vikings fans adored the moves, mainly because Minnesota fetched McCarthy and a man considered the best (or one of the best) defensive players in the draft. ESPN, however, emphatically didn’t share the enthusiasm, instead assigning the purple team a C+ grade for their efforts.

“My qualm about GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s class has more to do with mortgaging the future of this Minnesota roster. He made the move in March to get an extra first-rounder at No. 23, which cost him a second-round pick next year,” ESPN Mel Kiper explained. He continued, “And to trade up from No. 23 to No. 17, he had to give the Jaguars his 2025 third- and fourth-rounders. That means the Vikings have just three selections next year: one in Round 1 and two in Round 5. With a rookie quarterback under center, are they really in position to go all-in right now? This is after they had just two picks in Rounds 1-3 this year.”

draft grade
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans conducted a similar move in 2023 on the first night of the draft, and for now, the trade looks wonderful.

Kiper added, “Dallas Turner (17) is my top-ranked edge rusher, but Minnesota had a greater need at cornerback. This defense ranked 28th in the league in passing yards allowed to receivers (3,019) last season. I was a little surprised Adofo-Mensah didn’t target one of the top corners instead. He finally went corner with his next pick, but that was all the way in Round 4. Khryee Jackson (108) is a 6-3 defensive back who allowed just one touchdown in coverage last season.”

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

All told, this was the trade fallout for deals involving McCarthy and Turner:

The Vikings Got:
J.J. McCarthy
Dallas Turner
6th-Rounder (2024)
7th-Rounder (2024)

The Vikings Gave:
No. 11
2nd-Rounder (2024)
2nd-Rounder (2025)
3rd-Rounder (2025)
4th-Rounder (2024)
4th-Rounder (2025)
5th-Rounder (2024)
5th-Rounder (2024)
6th-Rounder (2024)

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

A lot of draft capital indeed, the compromise was holding onto next year’s 1st-Rounder and also the 2026 version. Many NFL pundits thought Minnesota might have to unload a 2025 1st-Rounder and a 2026 1st-Rounder in a possible trade with the New England Patriots for North Carolina’s Drake Maye. But Adofo-Mensah didn’t press the button on that deal and sent non-1st-Rounders elsewhere in the pursuit of McCarthy and Turner.

Like all draft grades, judging a draft class days after the event is rather silly. All draft grades should probably wait until three years after the event.

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