Vikings Agree With Kiper's Assessments

Why did ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. like the Vikings' draft so much? Because it was eerily similar to the way Kiper would have done it, according to his ratings.

As Vikings head coach Mike Tice addressed the media at the conclusion of last weekend's draft, he stopped making a statement to have a reporter turn up a nearby television in which ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper was declaring the winners and losers of the 2004 draft. For the second straight year, Kiper praised the Vikings as having the best top to bottom draft of any team in the league.

The similarities between the Vikings draft board and Kiper's is quite frightening. Going back to 2003. From beginning to end, the Vikings consistently took the highest player on Kiper's own draft board. First-round pick Kevin Williams was rated lower than current Ram Jimmy Kennedy, but Kiper pointed out that Williams was not the pure nose tackle, run stopper Kennedy was — something the Vikings were looking for in their own 4-3 defense.

From there, it got almost spooky. E.J. Henderson was Kiper's top-rated inside linebacker, Nate Burleson was near the top of his board when the Vikings took him in the third round, Onterrio Smith was his second-rated running back in the draft, Eddie Johnson was his second-rated punter and Mike Nattiel was his second-rated outside linebacker. No wonder Kiper loved the Vikings draft. If he had been in a war room, he likely would have made the same picks.

Not much changed this year. Kiper had Kenechi Udeze going in the top 10 and represented a steal where the Vikings got him. Dontarrious Thomas was his highest rated outside linebacker when the Vikings selected him. Darrion Scott was his fifth-rated defensive end and highest on the board when the Vikings took him in the third round. Heading into the second day, the two highest prospects left of Kiper's big board were Mewelde Moore and Nat Dorsey – the Vikings got both of them.

For two straight years, the Vikings' draft plan and Kiper's draft evaluation have fit like a hand in a glove. The two have been almost a perfect fit for one another. There's no telling if the Vikings had Kiper's blue book in their draft room but, for a second straight season, they seem to have been on the same page when it came to drafting players.

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