Vikings Draft Grade + NFC North Teams

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Despite my firm belief that it takes two to three years before we truly know how well a team did in a draft (and sometimes longer, as in the case of the Packers with Jordan Love, who didn’t emerge until his fourth season), I did grade the Vikings’ 2024 draft along with the other NFL teams.

Vikings Draft Grade + NFC North Teams

Most of the media grades I saw gave the Vikings an A- or B+ except for ESPN’s Mel Kiper, who dropped the Purple to a C+ because of the future draft choices traded to Houston and Jacksonville to first pick up the 23rd overall pick and then move up to 17th to take edge/OLB Dallas Turner. These moves left the Vikings without a second, third, or fourth-round pick in 2025.

draft grade
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Kiper is missing the likelihood of Minnesota gaining a third-round pick next year as a compensatory pick for Kirk Cousins’ and Danielle Hunter’s free-agent departures. The Vikings could also gain another pick for their other free-agent losses, including D.J. Wonnum, although that will probably be offset by signing players such as OLBs Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel, along with ILB Blake Cashman.

The Vikings can also add more 2025 picks by trading down a bit in the first round, although I always feel that’s a dangerous strategy to pass on potential impact players, as the Vikings did when they dropped down to the last pick in the first round for safety Lewis Cine in 2022 (and he hasn’t yet broken into the starting lineup).

I agree with the other analysts who bestowed high marks on the Vikings for their 2024 draft work. I gave the Vikings an A- with emphasis on drafting two players who could make a major impact as soon as this coming season — quarterback J.J. McCarthy and Turner. I think it’s a terrific one-two punch in Round 1 after two astute trades by GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah positioned the Vikings to draft these highly regarded players.

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As I wrote last week, adding McCarthy and Turner is potentially franchise-altering for the Vikings and certainly has the organization and Vikings fan base very excited about the upcoming 2024 season. I love McCarthy’s winning pedigree (27-1 as Michigan’s starter and a national champ last season), his athleticism, his ability to make all the throws, including off-schedule plays, and his running ability.

McCarthy has begun the crash course in learning the Vikings’ offensive scheme, and it will be fascinating to see how he progresses through OTAs, minicamp, and training camp as he competes with Sam Darnold for the starting job.

Turner should be an immediate contributor as a blazing-fast and highly athletic edge rusher who can drop into coverage. He needs to use the offseason and training camp to bulk up to better take on big offensive tackles against the run and add power rushes to his speed game off the edge.

I also like the fourth-round pick of Khyree Jackson, a tall cornerback who excels in man coverage that DC Brian Flores wants to use more of this season. Jackson allowed only one TD pass last season while playing against the likes of USC’s Caleb Williams in the Pac-12.

Kicker Will Reichard — with his accuracy on field goals over 50 yards — looks to be the Vikings’ future kicker. The other three draftees—OT Walter Rouse, C/G Michael Jurgens, and DT Levi Drake-Rodriguez—all have intriguing traits and are potential depth players this season and perhaps future starters.

Draft Pick
Drake Levi Rodriguez. Undrafted free agent added by Minnesota Vikings after the 2024 NFL Draft from Texas A&M-Commerce. Rodriguez will compete for a roster spot this summer.

I’ll also repeat my belief that bringing in players like McCarthy, Turner, and Reichard, who played for college football powers in Michigan and Alabama, is a positive move. They are well accustomed to pressure games before large and noisy crowds, home and away.

Grading the other NFC North teams:

Chicago Bears: A-

Caleb Williams needs to play up to his No. 1 overall pick status before I believe he’s a future top-five NFL QB who will lead the Bears to the playoffs and future Super Bowls. He brings arm strength, playmaking, and off-schedule ability, and 72 TD passes, only 10 interceptions, and 21 rushing TDs over his two seasons as USC’s starter are impressive stats, but he’s also been inconsistent at times (such as his three interceptions in a 28 point loss at Notre Dame last season). And he has a sense of entitlement that must be controlled.

Athletic and physical first-round WR Rome Odunze should be a great NFL player and, with D.J. Moore and Keenan Allen, will form one of the best wide receiver trios in the league. The second-round pick dealt for Montez Sweat has paid off, as he’s the Bears’ top pass rusher and had his contract extended. Third-round OT Kiran Amegadjie can play guard or tackle and can be developed as a future starter as he adjusts from the Ivy League to the NFL. Tory Taylor (fourth round) will be a valuable addition as the new punter. Fifth-round DE Austin Booker brings pass rush help (nine sacks and 38 pressures in 2023).

Detroit Lions: A-

The Lions addressed their 27th-ranked pass defense from last season and the departure of corner Cam Sutton by trading up five spots and selecting one of the best corners in the draft—Terrion Arnold, who is fast, elite in man coverage, and plays the run well. He had five interceptions last season. Detroit continued to upgrade their cornerbacks in the second round with the physical Ennis Rakestraw, who does not have big speed but is aggressive and instinctive.

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Fourth-round OT Giovanni Manu is huge (6-7, 352 pounds) and athletic but needs development. Sione Vaki (Round 4) was an athletic college safety who was projected as a running back and special teamer. Sixth-round DT Mekhi Wingo excels in run defense, and Christian Mahogany could be a sixth-round find as a guard who has allowed only one sack over the last three years. The Lions did not pick an edge rusher as expected. Are they really counting on Marcus Davenport to stay healthy, which he wasn’t able to do during the past two seasons in New Orleans and Minnesota?

Green Bay Packers: B

First-rounder Jordan Morgan will be a fine pass protector for Jordan Love, whether as the long-term left tackle to finally replace David Bakhtiari or if he’s moved inside to guard. I thought the Packers’ best pick was Edgerrin Cooper as the first LB taken. He’s a highly productive and athletic player who had 84 tackles, eight sacks, and 17 tackles-for-loss last season.

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The Packers traded down four spots in the second round and still got Cooper plus a fifth and sixth-round pick. Javon Bullard is a versatile second-round safety who will help the secondary. Third-rounder MarShawn Lloyd is a good back who needs to improve in pass protection. Ty’Ron Hopper is an athletic and effective third-round pass rusher who covers well and will help on special teams, as will fourth-round pick Evan Williams. Fifth-round center Jacob Monk and sixth-round OT Travis Glover add depth on the O-line. Fifth-round safety Kitan Oladapo is a good Day 3 pick, as are seventh-rounders Michael Pratt (who can compete to be Jordan Love’s backup QB) and DB Kalen King.  

Best and worst of the rest:

I gave an A+ to the Eagles, who drafted two excellent corners, Quinyon Mitchell (Round 1) and Cooper DeJean (Round 2), to help their pass defense, which was a problem last season.

Pittsburgh and Washington earned A’s from me. I thought the Steelers nailed their first three picks—first-round OL Troy Fautana (who can play tackle or guard), center/guard Zach Frazier in Round 2, and a solid WR in third-rounder Roman Wilson. No. 2 overall pick Jayden Daniels brings a potential franchise QB to Washington, who also hit on their next three picks with likely second-round future starters—DT Jer’Zhan Newton, corner Mike Sainristil, and tight end Ben Sinnott. It looks like a great debut draft for new Commanders GM Adam Peters.

It also was a typical excellent draft (A- from me) for the two-time Super Bowl champion Chiefs, who traded up four spots to grab the fastest receiver in the draft — Xavier Worthy — who gives Patrick Mahomes the deep threat he’s been missing since the trade of Tyreek Hill in 2022.

Texas Longhorns wide receiver Xavier Worthy (1) celebrates a play in the fourth quarter of the Sugar Bowl College Football Playoff semi-finals at the Ceasars Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, Jan. 1, 2024. The Huskies won the game 37-31. © Sara Diggins/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Worst draft grade from me was to Atlanta — a D for their non-sensical pick of QB Michael Penix Jr. at No. 8 overall (he’s a talented QB but injury-prone and will sit for at least two years behind Kirk Cousins with his $100 million guarantee unless Cousins gets hurt again or performs poorly).

Then the Falcons traded a third-round pick (which probably wasn’t necessary) to move up eight spots in the second round and select a raw DT in Ruke Orhorhoro when they badly needed an impact pass rusher (but the Vikings are happy Atlanta didn’t take Dallas Turner with their first-round pick).   

Jeff Diamond is a former Vikings GM, former Tennessee Titans President and was selected NFL Executive of the Year after the Vikings’ 15-1 season in 1998. He now works for the NFL agent group IFA based in Minneapolis and does other sports consulting and media work along with college/corporate speaking. Follow him and direct message him on Twitter– @jeffdiamondnfl