Experts give Vikings high grade on NFL draft

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The instant reaction of the Minnesota Vikings’ draft started immediately after Minnesota went bold and picked three players in the first round, with analysts lauding the moves made by Vikings general manager Rick Spielman.

All three players were considered first-round talents and Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson fell further than many pundits believed they would. Minnesota didn’t hesitate to draft Floyd at No. 23, pick Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes at No. 25 and then swing a big trade with the New England Patriots to jump back into the first round and grab Patterson.

The trade meant a slow second day of the draft, with no picks for the Vikings, but the team ended with six more picks on the final day.

Grading a draft the day afterward can be an exercise in futility, but here is how some analysts are saying Minnesota did with its nine picks:

FOX Sports’ Jennifer Floyd Engel: A “Two words — Sharrif. Floyd. If he really fell because he had T-Rex arms, joke is on the 22 who passed. Steal of the draft.”

FOX Sports’ Alex Marvez: B “Minnesota’s first two selections (University of Florida defensive tackle Floyd and Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes) will be starting by the 2014 season. I’m not as sold on the team’s other first-round pick in Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.”

FOX Sports’ Peter Schrager: A-minus “The Vikings stayed put with the 23rd and 25th picks, got the guys they wanted, and then made a power move to get an exciting playmaker at receiver in Patterson. Did the Vikings give up a lot for Patterson? Possibly. But the JUCO-turned-Tennessee star will strike fear in the hearts of his NFC North opponents.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.: A-minus “The Vikings got a gift when Sharrif Floyd fell to them at No. 23. We heard going into Thursday that he might tumble a little, but that was a pretty big drop. My guess is they’ll rotate him in with Kevin Williams, who will be 33 when the season starts. The top two needs on my board for the Vikings were wide receiver and cornerback, and that’s where they went with the next two picks. Xavier Rhodes at No. 25 made sense, because several teams after that could have targeted corner. The Vikings then gave up a tremendous amount to move into Round 1 again at No. 29 overall, where they got Cordarrelle Patterson. He needs work in terms of learning how to play the position, but Patterson is a player who can create explosive plays once he gets the ball, which is what they lost when they dealt Percy Harvin. Thing is, Patterson needs to work out because they sent New England a few picks to get him. But the strategy makes sense: They saw a chance to add a starter and took it. Jeff Locke was the best punter available, so I don’t mind the use of a fifth-round pick to get him. Gerald Hodges, who they took at No. 120 overall, could push to start at middle linebacker. Hey, they got starters, but they needed to add impact in this draft considering they dealt Harvin and had a few pretty big needs. I also thought they should’ve found a way to get their hands on Manti Te’o in this draft.”

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke: A-minus “This is all about the three-man first round for Minnesota. DT Sharrif Floyd, CB Xavier Rhodes and WR Cordarrelle Patterson should all play huge roles for the next several years. Does it really matter, then, that the rest of this draft (save for maybe OLB Gerald Hodges) was pretty ho-hum? The Vikings went for broke in Round 1, and came out looking golden.”

Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer: A-minus “The thing about their three first-rounders taken in the 20s — Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes and Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson — is that they all were considered top-dozen picks at some point. Floyd fits as a run stopper in their 4-3 to a tee, and likewise, Rhodes’ size and zone coverage ability works just as well on the back end for Leslie Frazier. After having no scary outside threats last season, the Vikings go to a Patterson-Greg Jennings combination. They’ve come out aggressive to boost their playoff status.”

CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco: A “The Vikings hit on three starters with Floyd, corner Xavier Rhodes and Patterson. That’s a heck of a haul. The only knock is giving up picks to go back in and make Patterson the third first-round pick.”

NBC Sports’ Evan Silva: B-minus “Keep in mind GM Rick Spielman dumped game-changing slot receiver and return specialist Percy Harvin for the 25th and 214th picks, in addition to a 2014 third-rounder. That deal must be factored into Minnesota’s grade. Spielman acknowledged the big loss and responded by targeting big-play ability from his hat trick of first-rounders. Floyd is a penetrating three-technique tackle ideally suited for Leslie Frazier’s 4-3 scheme. The Vikings paired Rhodes (6-foot-2, 210) with Chris Cook (6-foot-2, 212) to form one of the NFL’s biggest, longest corner duos as they attempt to slow Calvin Johnson, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Brandon Marshall, and Alshon Jeffery in the NFC North. The Patterson pick at the very least offsets Harvin’s special teams value because Cordarrelle offers similar game-breaking return skills and arguably just as much receiving upside. Patterson is a freak. I liked athletic mover Baca as a late-round value. “

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