Third to pick, and third in our series looking back at past drafts, it’s the Minnesota Vikings who we’re turning our attention to next. The plan, as ever, will be to look back at three years worth of draft classes for each team (2008 through 2010, with it being too soon to look at 2011) and putting the picks through our own grading scheme with our Draft Grader.
Every draft pick (this does not include undrafted free agents) will get a grade between +2.0 and -2.0 (in 0.5 increments) that depends upon:
• Where they were drafted
• Their performance
• Their contribution (how many snaps their team got out of them)
• Other factors such as unforeseen injuries and conditions that could not have been accounted for
Have the Vikings’ drafts contributed to the situation they find themselves in? Have they been unlucky? Let’s take a look at their drafting.
+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round
Unfortunately, John David Booty wasn’t that guy.
+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!
These weren’t drafts where the Vikings found many steals.
+1.0: The scouts nailed it!
John Sullivan, C (187th overall pick in 2008): After spending the early portion of his career playing hurt, Sullivan got healthy and showed everyone how good a player he is in 2011. He finished 2011 our third-ranked center; not bad for a sixth-round pick.
Percy Harvin, WR (22nd overall pick in 2009): This would be higher if the Vikings could get Harvin on the field more, because whenever he gets the ball in his hands you feel something is going to happen. Has earned a collective +34.3 grade since being drafted, and that doesn’t even factor in his special teams value.
+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor
Letroy Guion, DT (152nd overall pick in 2008): Figures to start this year, but has proved a reliable rotational defensive tackle since being drafted. Ended up seeing considerable action in 2011 with Remi Ayodele struggling, and acquitted himself well.
Phil Loadholt, T (54th overall pick in 2009): It took him three years, but 2011 was the year where Loadholt proved the draft pundits correct as, while having some problems in pass protection, he was dominant at times in the run game. Has proved an above average starter outside of a horrific 2010, and good value in the second round.
Toby Gerhart, RB (51st overall pick in 2010): Gerhart seems like the kind of back who needs a heavy workload to really show what he is capable of, as it wasn’t until Adrian Peterson went down that he really showed what he can do. His finish to 2010 (a +10.0 grade over the final seven weeks of the year) is that of a back who provides excellent insurance for ‘Purple Jesus’.
0.0: Nothing ventured, nothing gained (It could have been worse)
John David Booty, QB (137th overall pick in 2008): Once Brett Favre was signed up in 2009, the Booty project was never going to get the investment he initially thought when he declared Minnesota the team he wanted to draft him.
Jaymar Johnson, WR (193rd overall pick in 2008): Lasted three seasons in Minnesota, though spending one of those on the practice squad and another on injured reserve meant Vikings fans rarely got to see him. A shame because he flashed talent in pre season.
Jasper Brinkley, LB (150th overall pick in 2009): Could be about to find himself in the starting lineup after three largely uneventful years (one of which was spent on injured reserve). When he did get on the field at the end of the 2009 season, looked a little lost in coverage.
Jamarca Sanford, S (231st overall pick in 2009): You don’t expect your seventh-rounders to turn into starters. Sanford has, it’s just a shame he’s not a very good one. Has been a decent contributor on special teams.
Chris Cook, CB (34th overall pick in 2010): Looks talented but after legal troubles in 2011, it’s too early to tell how this one will pan out.
Chris DeGeare, G (161st overall pick in 2010): When thrust into the starting lineup in 2010, DeGeare looked a bit overwhelmed. Found himself on the practice squad last year but may be well down the depth chart in 2012 even if he is currently pencilled in as the starter.
Everson Griffen, DE (100th overall pick in 2010): Some at the PFF staff want extra marks for Griffin for being the biggest gunner in the league. Unfortunately, you’d like a tad more action from him on defense, where he’s looked good in very limited action. It’s just a shame the Vikings aren’t big on rotating their defensive ends.
Joe Webb, QB (199th overall pick in 2010): One of those potential high reward picks that the team hasn’t lost much from trying to develop. Webb is a great athlete, but his inability to get a handle on the mental side of playing quarterback means the Vikings would perhaps be better off finding other ways to take advantage of his talents.
Mickey Shuler, TE (214th overall pick in 2010): The Vikings wanted to store him on their practice squad, but the Dolphins stole him away. Still eventually they got their man and put him on their practice squad last November.
Ryan D’Imperio, FB (237th pick overall in 2010): Still on the roster, D’Imperio has a ways to go before he replaces Jim Kleinsasser after converting from linebacker in college.
-0.5: That pick was not put to good use
Tyrell Johnson, S (43rd overall pick in 2008): It’s always worrying when the more a player plays, the worse he seems to get. That was the case with Johnson who now finds himself a free agent after four largely disappointing years in Minnesota.
Asher Allen, CB (86th overall pick in 2009): In just 329 snaps in coverage in 2011, Asher earned a -12.5 coverage grade. That was after he scored a -10.6 coverage grade the year before. A third-round pick, more was expected from Allen. A lot more.
Nate Triplett, LB (167th overall pick in 2010): Not often the Vikings completely whiff on a pick, but Triplett is that rare instance of them giving up on a player within months of drafting him.
-1.0: What a waste!
Kudos to Minnesota, there was no exceptional wasting of picks …
-1.5: The scouts/ coaches failed, big time!
… nor did the scouts/ coaches really get it wrong in such a way to set the franchise back a step.
-2.0: You just drafted the love child of Jamarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!
There were no Russell/ Leaf hybrids to pick from.
What you tend to see with the Vikings is a team that shows a commitment to developing their draft picks without feeling compelled to thrust them into a starting lineup. Unfortunately, they haven’t really hit on their late-round picks, and while they’ve got some production from them, by and large they’ve just found guys who can fill a roster spot without pushing on and improving the team … with the exception of John Sullivan.