Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Grading the draft class

Posted by: under Vikings, NFL draft, Brett Favre, Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings draft Updated: May 2, 2011 - 10:41 AM

It's become part of the every NFL Draft: the post-draft grades. Draft experts assign teams grades based on how they think they did in the draft.

Yes, no one really knows right now because the players haven't even played a down in the NFL. But in the spirit of things, we thought we'd highlight some of the reaction to the Vikings draft class. Here's a sample:

Rob Rang, CBSSports.com

Grade: B+

Full disclosure: I am higher on Christian Ponder than most, so if you're thinking I'm going to knock them significantly for their perceived "reach" of him at No. 12, you're wrong. I will certainly admit that the No. 12 overall pick higher is higher than a quarterback coming off two arm surgeries should go, but the Vikings needed a passer who could play right away and Ponder is, in my opinion, the most pro-ready passer in this draft. If -- and it is a big if -- he can stay healthy, he'll prove worthy of this pick. Arm-strength, intelligence and mobility are not questions, in my mind. The Vikings found solid talent throughout the rest of the draft, as well. The selection of Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph was a surprise considering the emergence of Visanthe Shiancoe. Versatile defensive lineman Christian Ballard (4th round), competitive cornerback Brandon Burton (5th) and developmental center Brandon Fusco (6th) highlighted a busy Day Three for the Vikings.

 

Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com

Grade: B-

Best pick: So many people think they reached for quarterback Christian Ponder, but I think they got the best quarterback in the draft. He fits what they do.

Questionable move: Fourth-round pick Christian Ballard failed a drug test at the combine, which says something about his head.

Third-day gem: Fifth-round pick Brandon Burton was a player who some thought could go in the third round. He’s a bigger corner who fills a need in Minnesota.

Analysis: I love Ponder, and I think getting tight end Kyle Rudolph in the second round also was a good move. The rest of the draft could be good, particularly if Ballard stays out of trouble.
 

Mel Kiper, ESPN (Thanks to Kevin Seifert for providing Kiper's grade, which requires insider subscription)

Grade: C+

Seifert's comment: Like many commentators, Kiper thinks the No. 12 spot was too high for Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder. To Kiper and others, the fact that TCU quarterback Andy Dalton lasted another 23 spots provides evidence that the Vikings could have traded down, or traded up from the second round, and still drafted Ponder. I don't think we can say that. How do we know that a team passing on Dalton wouldn't have taken Ponder? Regardless, quarterback is one position where value is less critical. There aren't many legitimate quarterback prospects in any draft, and if you have an opportunity to draft one that you think can be a long-term starter, who cares if he is taken at No. 12 or No. 25? (Especially with a rookie wage scale on the horizon.) Do you think anyone cares now that the New York Jets traded a bounty in 2009 to move up to the No. 5 overall spot and "reach" for quarterback Mark Sanchez?

 

Adam Caplan, FOXSports.com

Grade: C+

Analysis: The Vikings failed to address their weak offensive line until the sixth round, which was a big mistake. They will have to look toward free agency to improve in that area on offense.

 

Jason Cole, Yahoosports.com

Grade: D

Analysis: Let’s start off by noting that the Vikings didn’t have a third-round draft pick because of the ill-fated trade they made last season with the New England Patriots to get Randy Moss. When you start off from that position, it’s hard to move up quickly. The Vikings compounded that by reaching for Ponder. People can talk all they want about how impressive Ponder was in the bowl games and in the Senior Bowl (a glorified 7-on-7 contest). He was projected as a second-round pick and Minnesota took him No. 12 overall out of desperation. Ponder may end up being great, but that’s just not how to handle the draft. Teams like Cincinnati and San Francisco waited until the second round and got passers with just about as much upside as Ponder. Worse, New England got Ryan Mallett in the third round. As risky as Mallett might be, he’s as good a gamble to succeed as Ponder. In fairness, it should be noted that second-rounder Rudolph is a very good player.

 

Kerry J. Byrne, SI.com
 

Grade: C-

What I liked: Tight end Kyle Rudolph in the second round. He started as freshman at Notre Dame, has great size (6-6, 259), nice hands and good blocking skills. Paired with Visanthe Shiancoe, he gives the Vikings a potentially great tandem in 2011.

What I didn't like: Christian Ponder. The Vikings clearly need a "quarterback of the future" after the tragically failed Brett Favre experiment of the past two years. Just not sure Ponder is the answer. Look at the list of NCAA leaders in any major passing category last year. Call me when you reach Ponder. When the phone doesn't ring, I'll know it's you.
The Vikings struggled badly in pass protection last year, too, but didn't draft O-line until the sixth round. 

 

Clifton Brown, Sporting News

Grade: C+

Their draft depends on Christian Ponder developing into a starting quarterback they can win with. If he doesn’t pan out, they will regret not taking Nick Fairley or Robert Quinn. 



 

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT