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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings’ rookie class comes back aces as ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. re-grades NFL draft

By Derek Wetmore

The results are back in.

ESPN personality Mel Kiper Jr. has re-graded the 2015 NFL draft based on rookie productions during the 2015 season.

The Vikings’ draft class is aces.

After initially grading Minnesota a ‘B’ following their selection of Trae Waynes in the first round (pick No. 11), Kiper has reconsidered his mark. He says he gives weight to rookies who perform in important spots more than he credits first-year players who pile up reps on a lousy team.

And given some of the production from unexpected sources this season, it’s hard to argue with Kiper’s upgrade.

Waynes, the corner from Michigan State, was at the top of the Vikings’ list of drafted players. He had an up-and-down rookie season, highlighted by his first-career interception in the wild card playoff game against the Seahawks. He was more often seen on special teams than he was on defense, in part because of the season 37-year-old Terence Newman had opposite Xavier Rhodes.

Still, Waynes was just the beginning of the Vikings’ draft class. And while the jury is still out on him as to whether he’ll be a top cover corner in the NFL, the rest of GM Rick Spielman’s draft class looks pretty nice.

Taking linebacker Eric Kendricks in the second round, for example, looks like a good pick. He and fellow UCLA Bruin Anthony Barr form a good tandem at linebacker, as Barr is an exceptional talent and Kendricks led the team in tackles.

Then getting the raw defensive end Danielle Hunter at pick No. 88 overall looks like a robbery for the Vikings. In his first year in the league, Hunter had the third-most sacks (6) of any Vikings rookie ever. And he was only a part-time pass rusher.

With Everson Griffen and Brian Robison installed on the right and left sides of the defensive line, Hunter may continue to be a backup and rotational player for now, but he could reasonably push for more playing time as early as next year.

Kiper called Hunter a “good developmental pick” at the time of the draft, and now he calls him “an absolute steal.”

And don’t forget about fifth-round pick Stefon Diggs, who emerged and took over Charles Johnson’s role as Minnesota’s split end. Kiper also called Diggs a steal.

All things considered, the 2015 draft is looking pretty good for the Vikings. That’s good news for Spielman, whose draft track record has been spotty, including some good late-round finds but also a big swing-and-a-miss on first-round quarterback Christian Ponder.

The depth of the class is obviously nice, but I’m curious to see where Waynes is at in, say, two years. Ultimately, I think agree with Kiper’s initial assessment:

“Good draft, but Waynes still has some “we’ll see” aspects.”

The post Vikings’ rookie class comes back aces as ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. re-grades NFL draft appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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