Vikings draft evaluation: Now vs. potential

The Vikings came away from the draft with 10 new players, but how did their actual draft slot compare with their draft value … and their pro potential. Dave-Te' Thomas of NFL Scouting compiles two sets of predraft rankings, for draft value and long-term pro potential, and we take a look at the Vikings' picks in relation to both sets of rankings.

There are all sorts of ways to assess a draft class. The nearly instantaneous day-after-draft evaluations have become vogue and sometimes satisfy the thirst of the knee-jerk crowd.

One way of judging a draft is to compare where a player was selected with where the analyst had him ranked. Dave-Te' Thomas of NFL Scouting ranked players before the draft by how he assessed their value at the time of the draft and compiled another set of rankings based on how he thought the players would perform as pros after a few years in the league.

DRAFT-DAY RANKINGS

Most analysts view the selection of Christian Ponder as a reach at No. 12 overall, and Thomas' rankings would indicate the same, but maybe not as severe as others. He had Ponder slated as the 28th player overall and third-best QB behind Cam Newton (17) and Blaine Gabbert (21), meaning he didn't see one quarterback worthy of a pick in the first half of the first round, much less four in the first 12 picks.

Interestingly, while second-round pick Kyle Rudolph was the top-ranked tight end, he was ranked as the 43rd overall player on Thomas' board – exactly the selection the Vikings used to pick him.

Without a third-round pick, the Vikings had to wait until No. 106 overall to select defensive lineman Christian Ballard. Like many analysts, Thomas had Ballard slated as a second- or third-round value, No. 63 overall, giving the Vikings their first "steal of the draft," according to his rankings.

In another interesting twist, Thomas also had the Vikings' next pick, fifth-round cornerback Brandon Burton, rated two slots higher than Ballard at No. 61 overall. That meant the Vikings, at least according to Thomas' rankings, got three second-round values – in the second, fourth and fifth rounds.

The strong draft values continued with three of their next four selections as well.

The Vikings took tackle DeMarcus Love with the 168th pick while Thomas had him rated as the 106th player overall.

But the selection of Mistral Raymond could be considered a "reach" by Thomas' rankings for NFL Scouting. The Vikings took him with the 170th pick, but he was ranked No. 301 as a seventh-round or free-agent value.

The selection of center Brandon Fusco at No. 172 put the value selections back on track. Thomas had Fusco as the second-ranked center and 134th overall, making him a fourth- or fifth-round value (he was taken in the sixth round).

It was nearly identical with linebacker Ross Homan. He was picked No. 200, but Thomas had him as the 135th-ranked player. One discrepancy, however, is how the Vikings, Thomas and apparently most in the NFL view Homan. While the Vikings sound like they are looking at him as an outside linebacker, Thomas placed him with the inside linebackers, which is the group Homan worked out with at the NFL Scouting Combine in February as well.

The Vikings' final two picks – seventh-rounders D'Aundre Reed (defensive end) and Stephen Burton (wide receiver) – were selected at No. 215 and No. 236 overall, respectively. Thomas had Burton rated as a seventh-rounder and Reed as a seventh-rounder or undrafted free agent at 290 overall.

PRO RANKINGS

For some analysts, "raw" equals "reach." However, after a few years, a raw rookie could turn into an accomplished pro. That's where the pro rankings differ from the draft rankings.

For instance, Thomas was an advocate of the potential in quarterback Colin Kaepernick throughout the predraft process. While he had Kaepernick as his fourth-ranked QB in the draft, he thinks he has the most potential as a pro. Ponder, however, moved little in Thomas' pro rankings of the rookies. He has Ponder remaining as the third-best QB, under Kaepernick and Cam Newton, but moving up to No. 26 overall.

Rudolph also moved up a few spots in the overall rankings, advancing from 43rd in the draft rankings to 40th in the pro set and remaining the top tight end.

Ballard, Brandon Burton, Raymond, Fusco and Homan actually dropped a few spots in the pro rankings, but Love dropped 47 spots to 153 in the pro rankings. The Vikings' final two selections, Reed and Stephen Burton, improved their pro rankings by a couple dozen spots.

NFL Films analyst Greg Cossel may have said it best when he said the rankings business ultimately is human beings evaluating other human beings, so there is no formula that will be right all the time. But one week after the selections were made, the draft and projected pro rankings are an interesting look at what might come of the Vikings' 10 draft picks down the road.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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Interestingly, while second-round pick Kyle Rudolph was the top-ranked tight end, he was ranked as the 43rd overall player on Thomas' board – exactly the selection the Vikings used to pick him. Without a third-round pick, the Vikings had to wait until No. 106 overall to select defensive lineman Christian Ballard. Like many analysts, Thomas had Ballard slated as a second- or third-round value, No. 63 overall, giving the Vikings their first \"steal of the draft,\" according to his rankings. In another interesting twist, Thomas also had the Vikings' next pick, fifth-round cornerback Brandon Burton, rated two slots higher than Ballard at No. 61 overall. That meant the Vikings, at least according to Thomas' rankings, got three second-round values – in the second, fourth and fifth rounds. The strong draft values continued with three of their next four selections as well. The Vikings took tackle DeMarcus Love with the 168th pick while Thomas had him rated as the 106th player overall. But the selection of Mistral Raymond could be considered a \"reach\" by Thomas' rankings for NFL Scouting. The Vikings took him with the 170th pick, but he was ranked No. 301 as a seventh-round or free-agent value. The selection of center Brandon Fusco at No. 172 put the value selections back on track. Thomas had Fusco as the second-ranked center and 134th overall, making him a fourth- or fifth-round value (he was taken in the sixth round). It was nearly identical with linebacker Ross Homan. He was picked No. 200, but Thomas had him as the 135th-ranked player. One discrepancy, however, is how the Vikings, Thomas and apparently most in the NFL view Homan. While the Vikings sound like they are looking at him as an outside linebacker, Thomas placed him with the inside linebackers, which is the group Homan worked out with at the NFL Scouting Combine in February as well. The Vikings' final two picks – seventh-rounders D'Aundre Reed (defensive end) and Stephen Burton (wide receiver) – were selected at No. 215 and No. 236 overall, respectively. Thomas had Burton rated as a seventh-rounder and Reed as a seventh-rounder or undrafted free agent at 290 overall. For some analysts, \"raw\" equals \"reach.\" However, after a few years, a raw rookie could turn into an accomplished pro. That's where the pro rankings differ from the draft rankings. For instance, Thomas was an advocate of the potential in quarterback Colin Kaepernick throughout the predraft process. While he had Kaepernick as his fourth-ranked QB in the draft, he thinks he has the most potential as a pro. Ponder, however, moved little in Thomas' pro rankings of the rookies. He has Ponder remaining as the third-best QB, under Kaepernick and Cam Newton, but moving up to No. 26 overall. Rudolph also moved up a few spots in the overall rankings, advancing from 43rd in the draft rankings to 40th in the pro set and remaining the top tight end. Ballard, Brandon Burton, Raymond, Fusco and Homan actually dropped a few spots in the pro rankings, but Love dropped 47 spots to 153 in the pro rankings. The Vikings' final two selections, Reed and Stephen Burton, improved their pro rankings by a couple dozen spots. NFL Films analyst Greg Cossel may have said it best when he said the rankings business ultimately is human beings evaluating other human beings, so there is no formula that will be right all the time. But one week after the selections were made, the draft and projected pro rankings are an interesting look at what might come of the Vikings' 10 draft picks down the road. 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