2015 Draft in Review: Minnesota Vikings

A look through the 2015 Draft picks for the Minnesota Vikings.

| 1 year ago

2015 Draft in Review: Minnesota Vikings

vikings-waynesThe NFL draft is over and it suddenly seems like a long time to wait for the next meaningful event on the NFL calendar. But frankly we’re still excited trying to break down what it all means for each team and so we’re going to share some of that excitement.

Every team is going to have each pick broken down as well as a look at their undrafted free agents. Let’s take a look at the Minnesota Vikings, a team that likes to hit both value and needs when they draft.

Round 1: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

Grade: D

Seen as the consensus top cornerback prospect by many, but not by College Football Focus, the only people that watched and graded every snap he played in 2014 along, with those of every other cornerback in the FBS. Waynes has elite speed, but that speed doesn’t always translate. Was beaten for 14.9 yards per reception (78th among CBs), was our 44th-graded cornerback overall, and 40th in terms of completion percentage allowed on passes into his coverage this year. We did not have him ranked in the Top 5 of our corner prospects coming in to this draft, and think he was drafted a clear round higher than he should have been given his tape.

Depth Chart Fit: Will depend how fast he gets it. With Rhodes, Robinson and Munnerlyn in place the Vikings can wait on him if they need to, but they’ll want him to claim the No. 2 role.

Round 2: Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA

Grade: A

Kendricks may be the best coverage linebacker in the draft this year. Whether you think the Vikings had players on the roster that could start, or not (in Hodges and Cole), adding a true three-down player in Kendricks, should make the linebacker unit much better, and allow them to transition away from Chad Greenway, who has become a liability on the field. Topped the CFF coverage rankings for inside linebackers, despite being targeted a FBS-high 69 times over the season.

Depth Chart Fit: Should start right away in the middle, with last year’s top pick Anthony Barr and one other, making up their starting trio. Greenway may get the nod, but they would be better served starting Hodges.

Round 3: Danielle Hunter, ED, LSU

Grade: C+

A player that could perhaps be best described as a blank canvas, especially as a pass-rusher, Hunter has a lot of physical tools but was not very productive in 2014. He graded poorly as a pass-rusher, notching just 14 total pressures despite 700 snaps of play (Markus Golden from Mizzouri for example notched 61 on just 53 more snaps). Was a very strong run defender, which Mike Zimmer likes from his defensive ends. Only Utah’s Nate Orchard tallied more defensive stops than Hunter’s 50.

Depth Chart Fit: Would be a shock to see him start early, but could find himself in a two-down rotation at DLE with Brian Robison while the team tries to develop his pass-rush.

Round 4: T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pitt

cff-value-badgeThe Vikings struck value gold with Clemmings in the fourth round. He was the highest-graded run-blocking tackle all season by some distance, and allowed just 10 total pressures on the year, one more than Andrus Peat who went mid-way through the first round. Clemmings is already a monster in the run game, but despite those pretty pass-protection metrics he didn’t really face anybody of note this year, and will take more work there to be successful.

Depth Chart Fit: Is too raw as a pass-protector to start early at tackle, but has the power in the run game to potentially get on the field at guard if the Vikings want him on the field.

Round 5: MyCole Pruitt, TE, Southern Illinois

Played just one game against FBS competition, as well as 23 snaps at the Shrine Game, but caught 10 of 11 passes sent his way for 136 yards.

Depth Chart Fit: Kyle Rudolph is entrenched atop the depth chart, but has been injury prone and the Vikings need a contingency plan as a pure TE.

Round 5: Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland

Diggs was a good-not-great, player this year at Maryland, notching 796 yards and five touchdowns. He was thrown at 97 times, catching 63 of those passes and dropping six. Was 20th in yards per route run among this draft class at receiver.

Depth Chart Fit: The Vikings not taking a receiver until the fifth round suggest they are legit in their love of Charles Johnson as a starter, but there is opportunity to get as high up this depth chart as you want if you perform (as Johnson himself is evidence). Diggs will have the chance to earn playing time.

Round 6: Tyrus Thompson, OT, Oklahoma

cff-value-badgeHappy with how Phil Loadholt is working out, the Vikings take another mammoth tackle from Oklahoma. Thompson doesn’t have Loadholt’s length, but he has the same monstrous bulk and ability to punish in the run game. Was merely average in pass protection, allowing only one sack but 14 additional hurries.

Depth Chart Fit: In the final two rounds the Vikings were targeting needs and depth. Thompson was the first shot at stocking the O-line’s cupboards.

Round 6: B.J. Dubose, Louisville

cff-value-badgePlayed as a 3-4 end in Louisville’s system, but at 268lbs projects outside on Minnesota’s 4-man line. Had an excellent run-defense grade for the Cardinals this year, but wasn’t generating pressure often.

Depth Chart Fit: Along with Hunter could see himself playing on early downs at defensive end for the Vikings. Would have potential inside on pass-rushing downs.

Round 7: Austin Shepherd, OT, Alabama

cff-value-badgeWhile teams will usually chase tools and potential over production, Austin Shepard graded well against a high level of competition in the SEC. Ohio State’s Joey Bosa got the better of him in the playoff game, but Bosa could be the first overall pick a year from now, and Shepard allowed just one sack all season long. Graded better than Erick Flowers overall, a player who went in the first round.

Depth Chart Fit: Another move for depth, Shepard will likely find a position in camp and ply his trade as a backup.

Round 7: Edmond Robinson, ED, Newberry

Played no games against FBS competition this year and just 20 snaps in the Shrine Game.

Depth Chart Fit: Will fight to make the roster at the tail end of Minnesota’s linebacker list.

The Undrafted

cff-value-badgeTaylor Heinicke, QB, Old Dominion: It wasn’t a vintage quarterback class by any means, but Heinicke was the fourth graded quarterback at CFF, third if you remove Auburn’s Nick Marshall who is now a cornerback. Showed legit promise at times and could prove a fantastic pickup as a UDFA.

cff-value-badgeAnthony Harris, S, Virginia: Only five players had a better coverage grade over the season at CFF, thanks to some impressive plays covering the slot or playing deep for the Cavaliers.

Davaris Daniels, WR, Notre Dame: Did not play this year for Notre Dame.

Jordan Leslie, WR, BYU: A deep threat for BYU, almost a third of his targets were deep balls. Flashed big plays but also drops.

Justin Coleman, CB, Tennessee: Graded well, but much of it was against the run. Allowed 58% of targets to be caught.

Gavin Lutman, WR, Pittsburg State: Did not face FBS competition this year.

Blake Renaud, LB/FB, Boise State: Graded well as a linebacker at Boise this year, especially in the run game. Notched 18 defensive stops.

Jack Sherlock, ED, South Dakota State: Played one game against FBS competition this year, 31 snaps against Missouri. Notched two hurries, but graded average.

Steve Tellefsen, S, South Dakota: Played one game against FBS competition this year, was torched by Oregon’s high-octane offense. Surrendered five catches on six targets for 112 yards and a touchdown.


Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

  • Dave L

    In Zimmer we trust. Why would the best corner coach in football take such an untalented CB you silly people. That goes for Collinworth and Gruden too. Most sights graded them and Waynes a solid A

    • PFFSamMonson

      By that logic why was Dre Kirkpatrick not a stud? Zimmer’s not infallible.

      • gord5000

        that’s a fair point, but in the pick analysis, more about how he might stack up in Zimmer’s scheme would be useful. perhaps he was a middling CB at mich state, but maybe zimmer’s system plays more to his strengths.

      • flip flap the patties back

        I like how in ur article you say That PFF is the only place that watched all the snaps Waynes took in college.. I hope that’s a joke lol

    • NAJ

      Because his problems are coach-able and Zimmer has confidence he can mold him into a star with the tangibles Waynes has?

      • Tim Edell

        His change of direction problem is more a problem then coachable

        • NAJ

          I’m sure the coaches and scouts strongly disagree otherwise they wouldn’t have picked him so high.

          • Tim Edell

            Well they may disagree but it sure doesn’t mean he is going to pan out. Every year guys are taken in the top 15 and Im sure the coaches and scouts beleive he will be a star and he is not – so that line of thinking is not very accurate sir

  • Tom Jones

    MyCole Pruitt, TE, Southern Illinois may well be used as a fullback/H-Back as a replacement for Jerome Felton . Perhaps Turner’s idea is he would be a very good pass catcher and train him into the full back slot. Myself I really like Zach line because he can run the ball, and not just on short yardage. Do you guys think it feasable at PFF?

  • cka2nd

    And how would the grades for the Vikings’ 2015 draft class, and PFF’s take on it, look with one year under their belts:

    Waynes – B-, but this is a tentative grade based on if he becomes an effective, emphasis on the word effective, starter or rotational player this year. I’d say it’s 60:40 that his draft grade is B or higher by the end of the year, not C+ or lower.

    Kendricks – B+, based on having started and played well for most of last year. I’m still hoping that he’s our weakside linebacker of the future, though.

    Hunter – A-, and hello gorgeous! On top of his pass rushing, his run defense looks good, too; I saw him throw aside an offensive tackle who probably outweighed him by at least 30 pounds in this week’s pre-season game against Seattle.

    Clemmings – B-, because even as a raw rookie, he stepped in and started every game at right tackle. Yes, it wasn’t pretty, and yes, he needed a lot of help from the tight ends, but Adrian Peterson ran much more effectively behind Clemmings and Mike Harris on the right side than he did behind Kalil and Fusco on the left. I’m betting that Clemmings wins the RT job outright this pre-season, Andre Smith is cut, and just as I was wrong to write off Brandon Fusco after his brutal first year as a starter, so will many Vikings fans be proved wrong writing off Clemmings as a long-term project.

    Pruitt – B-, as he proved he cold play with the big boys. We’ll see if he’ll make the jump that many seem to expect of him this year, though. Kyle Rudolph is finally becoming a downfield threat and rookie David Morgan is looking good as both a receiver and blocker.

    Diggs – A-, although this grade is inflated by him having been a fifth rounder and having a hot run better than some first rounders before he cooled off. I don’t think he’s a true No. 1, so the question for me is does he become a solid No. 2 or a borderline No. 3, which seems to be where Jarius Wright has plateaued. The difference is between a final draft grade of B+ or A- on the one hand and C+ or B- on the other (and threatening a C, like Mr. Wright).

    Thompson – D+, I suppose, since how many sixth round draft choices actually make it in the NFL. He’s a little lower than Dubose, though, since he didn’t even make the Vikings’ practice squad.

    Dubose – C, since he’s still under contract with the club, injuries notwithstanding.

    Shepherd – B+, for not only making the team but playing in almost every game and carving out a non-special teams role for himself as a short-yardage blocker.

    Robinson – B, as he looked and played like a poor man’s version of Anthony Barr. No one was brought in over the off-season to seriously challenge Robinson as Barr’s back-up, but I’m wondering if Kentrell Brothers and Jake Ganus are making more of an impression than Robinson this pre-season.

    As for the undrafted free agents of 2015, CFF and PFF were certainly right in seeing special value in Heinicke and Harris. The former still appears to me to be better under pressure than Joel Stave (Good God, he looked like a fashion model when he had the shoulder-length hair at Wisconsin!), but Harris might be losing ground this pre-season to an Antone Exum, Jr., who is battling back from two mediocre years on the bench, and a talented and motivated Jayvon Kearse.

    Final grades on a draft class can only really be made after four or five years, but the 2015 Vikings class is looking pretty darn good on the threshold of their second year in the league.