- Ben Goessling, ESPN Staff Writer
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MINNEAPOLIS -- After the 2013 draft, ESPN NFL Draft Insider Mel Kiper Jr. gave the Minnesota Vikings a B, for a bold draft that included three first-round picks. Now that the Vikings' 2013 class has logged its first year in the league, though, Kiper Jr. has downgraded his review of the group somewhat.
He gave the Vikings' 2013 draft a C+ in a second review (via ESPN Insider), saying the Vikings didn't get quite as much as one would have expected, given where they were picking. We're not going to share everything Kiper Jr. had to say about the Vikings, since the piece is only available to subscribers, but here is a snippet:
"If you say the Vikings got a lot of reps from their rookie class in this draft, let's just keep one thing in mind: They drafted three times in Round 1. Considering they had some holes and depth questions at several spots, it's a given they were going to get some guys who should be playing early. But they also needed decent impact, and so far I think it's fair to say we don't yet know what they have."
That's a fair point, and it speaks to the risk the Vikings were taking when they sent a second-, third-, fourth- and seventh-round pick to New England to move back into the first round and take Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson looked like a star kick returner in his first year, but Kiper Jr. called him still a "tertiary threat" in the passing game. Inconsistency at quarterback had plenty to do with that, and many receivers don't blossom until their second or third year in the league, anyway. But after one year, it's fair to say the jury is still out on the group.
Of the Vikings' three first-round picks, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd probably had a smaller impact on the Vikings' roster than did Patterson or cornerback Xavier Rhodes, and it might be Floyd's future that will swing impressions of the group the most. To play devil's advocate for a second, what if the Vikings had passed on Floyd, taken Rhodes at No. 23 and drafted Patterson later in the first round, either at No. 25 or a few picks further back after trading down? We'll admit that feels like revisionist history now, since the Vikings were pleasantly stunned to see Floyd available at No. 23 at the time. But follow us for a second; that course of action would have left the Vikings with three more picks in the first four rounds of the draft to address holes at linebacker and possibly add depth on both lines. We're not saying that what the Vikings did won't work out for the best in the end, but for as much praise as they received after the draft for being bold in the first round, the jury is still out on the class after Year 1, largely because the return on three first-round picks should be significant.
The Vikings enter the 2014 draft with four picks in the first three rounds, including the No. 8 selection in each round, so they will have plenty of chances to fill holes in their roster. But they will also have plenty of holes to fill, and it will be interesting to see how general manager Rick Spielman handles things this year -- whether he'll try to move down in an attempt to stockpile more early round picks, or whether the hunt for an impact player will leave the Vikings with fewer premium picks than they have now. Those are the decisions that face every team in the draft, and the fact the Vikings still have depth issues on their roster might precipitate a different approach this year.
But hey, it's only January, and we've still got 3 1/2 months to chew on this stuff. Ain't it great?