In the last 10 years that Viking Update staff writer Kevin Brown has been ranking
college prospects before the draft, 2003 pulled the highest post-draft grade.
Brown quantifies how he arrives at that statement in a pick-by-pick grade analysis.
While sports media around the country were puzzled at how the Vikings could let time run out on their No. 7 overall pick before finally registering it as the ninth pick overall, that error didn't prevent the Vikings from getting their man at that pick. It also didn't deter team personnel officials from following with another very solid six rounds of drafting.
Many analysts have given the Vikings a strong grade for their draft last weekend. Why? Well, we've got our predraft numbers to prove why it was such a strong draft.
FIRST ROUND -- In Kevin Brown's predraft rankings, the highest grade given to a Vikings draft pick in the last 10 years was Randy Moss' 7.5. When the Vikings selected Kevin Williams in the first round, his predraft grade was 6.4, tied with Duane Clemons and Dwayne Rudd for the fourth-best grade in the last 10 years.
But a tie for fourth in the first round isn't what made 2003 such a talent-rich draft for the Vikings. In each of the next rounds in which the Vikings drafted, their selections placed third or higher for that round since 1994.
SECOND ROUND -- Linebacker E.J. Henderson was given a grade of 6.2, best among the Vikings' second-round picks in the last 10 years. The next highest second-rounder for the Vikings was David Palmer in 1994 with a 5.9 grade. In fact, Henderson's predraft grade was higher than former first-rounders Dewayne Washington, Todd Steussie, Michael Bennett and Dimitrius Underwood.
THIRD ROUND -- Wide receiver Nate Burleson got a 5.5 predraft grade from Brown. That put him tied for second with Stalin Colinet and Ramos McDonald for third-round selections in the last 10 years. Only Moe Williams, with a 5.7, had a higher draft grade in the third round.
FOURTH ROUND -- Running back Onterrio Smith grabbed a 5.9 rating from Brown before the draft, putting him at the top of list of Vikings fourth-rounders in the last 10 years. Next on the list were Kivuusama Mays, Hunter Goodwin, Brian Williams, Chad May and Tyrone Carter. Amazingly, Smith's grade was higher than any third-rounder selected by the Vikings since 1994 and would have placed him right behind E.J. Henderson if he were picked in the second round.
FIFTH ROUND -- The Vikings had no pick in the fifth round this year.
SIXTH ROUND -- Brown gave predraft grades of 5.3 to linebacker Mike Nattiel and 5.25 to punter Eddie Johnson, both selected in the sixth round. Nattiel is the highest rated sixth-rounder the Vikings have selected in the last decade, and Johnson's grade ties him with former sixth-rounders Matt Birk and Nick Rogers for second.
SEVENTH ROUND -- Wide receiver Keenan Howry pulled a 5.15 predraft grade from Brown, as did 1998 seventh-rounder Tony Darden. The two tied for the highest seventh-round grades in the last 10 years.
Why was the overall draft such a success? Well, the Vikings appear to have truly drafted the best player available in most instances and not necessarily drafted for need. According to Brown's rankings, it was the best draft in the last 10 years, with the highest per-round grades given to second-rounder Henderson, fourth-rounder Smith, sixth-rounder Nattiel and seventh-rounder Howry. Now that's an impressive two days of work.
Perennial All-Pro player.
Potential All-Pro as a rookie.
Immediate starter as a rookie (except QB).
1st-round pick; should start by 2004.
Early 2nd-round pick.
3rd round pick.
3rd round pick.
Free-agent who could make a team.
Worth bringing to training camp.
Possible camp player.