The Minnesota Vikings were very active during the 2019 NFL Draft. General Manager Rick Spielman was busy wheeling and dealing and when the dust settled, the Vikings added 12 new players. Seven of those were on the offensive side of the ball, and four were on the defensive side of the football. They also took a special teamer in long snapper Austin Cutting. Now that the picks have all been made, it's time to step back and look at this class as a whole, evaluate it, and stamp it with a grade.
The first thing to look at when evaluating this class is to see which players, if any, could make an instant impact during the 2019 season. First-round choice Garrett Bradbury will do exactly that. Bradbury will come in and be the teams brand new starting center. He is a perfect fit for the blocking scheme offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and guru Gary Kubiak want to utilize this season. He has elite lateral quickness and agility and is a smart blocker who excels in the run game. Not only will he make life easier for Kirk Cousins, but he will open up a ton of holes for Dalvin Cook.
Second round pick, tight end Irv Smith Jr. from Alabama, should also have an immediate impact as a rookie. The 6'2, 240 pounder has good speed, great hands, and runs smooth routes. He will be very difficult for opposing linebackers and safeties to cover and should form a fast rapport with his quarterback Kirk Cousins. Obviously, his overall impact and production will hinge on what ends up happening with Kyle Rudolph. If Rudy stays with the team, Smith Jr. will likely only see a couple of targets per game but if Rudolph is dealt or flat out released, the number of balls that come the new #84s way would increase exponentially.
The Vikings shocked a lot of people around the Draft world, myself included when they traded all the way to the end of Round 3 and took Boise St. running back Alexander Mattison. Mattison is by no means a speedster but he's a stoutly built, physical runner who has a lot of experience in goal line and short yardage situations. He's a bit of a bowling ball and has a knack for picking up the tough yards. Even if Dalvin Cook stays healthy Mattison will get carries every game. Many of those could be in the red zone and he's a guy who could not have a ton of rushing yards but could accumulate a healthy number of touchdowns.
The Vikings landed 3 guys with their first three choices who should have productive rookie seasons and help the team out in 2019 and that is absolutely huge. The next thing to look at when evaluating this class is looking at guys who could earn playing time in 2019, but it would be in the later portions of the season.
4th round pick Dru Samia is a guy who has done nothing but impress since being drafted by the Vikings. This guy is huge and turned a lot of heads with his size at the Vikings recent minicamp. He can come in and battle with Josh Kline for the right guard spot. Kline is the favorite to win that job, but if he struggles, the leash could be short and Samia would get his shot.
7th round wide receiver Dillon Mitchell is another player who could earn playing time with the Vikings in 2019. The team's wide receiver 3 job is very much up in the air. Mitchell has good size at 6'2 and ran a sub 4.5 forty-yard dash at the Combine. He has a knack for settling into open zones in defenses and has a good shot to earn that number three job. Even if he ends up being the fourth or even fifth wide receiver on this team, he is someone who could get worked in slowly over the season and accumulate more and more playing time as the season wears on.
Another guy who could have an active role during the 2019 season is 5th round linebacker, Cameron Smith. It's doubtful he gets much time on defense, but this former Trojan could be a force on special teams.
The last thing to evaluate when grading a Draft class this early is predicting how many of these players will make the team. Of the guys left, OT Oli Udoh, and Marcus Epps have a decent shot as they play positions that the team is not very deep at. Kris Boyd, Armon Watts, and Olabisi Johnson have a shot as well, but the depth chart ahead of them is more daunting. The chances are high that these players will either make the final 53 or be signed to the Vikings practice squad. The only clear wasted pick in this class is long snapper, Austin Cutting. This guy still has a commitment to the Air Force and can't report to the Vikings for a couple of years. It was a head-scratching choice and one that was maybe only made for salary cap purposes.
Final Grade: B+
The Vikings appear to have landed at least three guys in this class who will have an immediate impact on the 2019 season. Garrett Bradbury will be the starting center for the next decade, and Irv Smith Jr. and Alexander Mattison could start lighting up the stat sheet as early as week 1.
This class also has players who could eventually have a significant role with the team as the season progresses. Guard Dru Samia could push for a starting job. Linebacker Cameron Smith could have a nice role on special teams, and 7th round pass catcher Dillon Mitchell should be in the mix at wide receiver.
The grade gets knocked a little as it is fair to question whether or not the Vikings got value with the Alexander Mattison choice. No one projected this guy as a third-round pick, and while the Vikings did move down quite a few times, picking up draft capital along the way, there is a strong possibility he would've been on the board much later in the Draft. All that being said, this looks like a strong class on paper, and one that Rick Spielman and the entire Vikings coaching staff should be very excited about.