Most NFL/Draft experts are quoted as saying that it takes 3 years to fully be able to grade a draft. As we have come to the end of the 2013 season for the Vikings, I am going to take a look at the Vikings 2011 Draft
With their first round pick, the Vikings drafted Florida State QB Christain Ponder. At the time, many draftnicks considered this a reach. Rumors were circulating weeks before the draft that the Vikings had interest in Washington QB Jake Locker. Many feel this was a panic pick after a run on QB’s (Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, and Locker went in the first 11 picks). Ponder was pushed into the starting lineup in Mid-October after the Donavan McNabb expierment failed. The Vikings would go 1-7 with Ponder and he would finish his rookie season with 13 TD’s and 13 Int’s
In 2012, Ponder started out very effectively. Through 5 games he had 7td’s and 0 int’s He would struggle mid season but would rebound at the end of the year to help lead the Vikings to the playoffs, but was injured and did not play in the playoffs against Green Bay.
During this season, Ponder was either very inconsistent, ineffective or hurt. Being benched in favor of Matt Cassell, then Josh Freeman, then Matt Cassell again. It is expected Ponder will be traded in the offseason.
F – Ponder has been ineffective most of his Vikings tenure. The 2013 was more or less over after 3 weeks due to his miscues. He has showed at times he can make the NFL throws, however this pick has set the franchise back 3 years (much like the Tavaris Jackson pick). This is one of the bigger draft blunders in Vikings history
Kyle Rudolph was picked in the 2nd round to be the eventual replacement to Jim Kleinsasser and Vistanthe Shiancoe. His rookie season he caught 29 passes for 340 yards and 2 td’s. In his second year (and first year of starting) he made the Pro Bowl on the heels of 9 td’s on 33 catches. He was also named Pro Bowl MVP. His 2013 season was ruined by incosistent QB play and a late season injury
B+ – It’s almost not right to grade the Rudolph pick with all the incosistent QB play the Vikings have had his 3 years in the leauge. He has show with good QB play (see the 2013 Pro Bowl) that he can be one of the leauges top tight-ends. I expect big things out of Rudolph in 2014.
Ballard was drafted to team with and eventually replace longtime DT Kevin Williams. He had characther flaws and tested positive for pot while in college so his draft stock slipped. He played on a rotational basis in 2011 and 2012 and ended up with 1 sack in 2 years. Ballard left training camp in 2013 for personal issues (claimed football was no longer fun for him) and has yet to return to the Vikings
F – Ballard had a lot of promise and potential, and the pick was considered a steal, however he burned out. Yet another dissapointing pick in 2011
Burton was expected to be in the CB rotation for the Vikings and was to be added depth. However, he rarely played and when he did he was burned in the backfield often. He was cut in the 2013 pre-season.
F – You are probably starting to notice a pattern here. The Vikings did a good job of addressing needs in the 2011 draft, however most of the picks didn’t work out. Burton played 5 games for the Bills this year before being cut and picked up by the Bengals.
Love was initially drafted as developmental offensive line depth. He was innactive all of the 2011 season, most of the 2012 season and was suspended 4 games of the 2013 season for NFL’s policy on performance enhancing drugs. He was then cut by the Vikings upon his return and picked up by Jacksonville.
F – It’s hard to give an F grade on a developmental 6th round draft pick, however for the fact he never was active in a game in his Vikings career and was suspended 4 games; the grade is justified.
The Raymond pick was one of the few decent spots in the Vikings later picks. Though he hasn’t been a great DB/S, he has been serviceable at times. He has a tendency to get burned and has trouble wrapping up and making tackles.
C – Though he hasn’t been a Pro Bowl saftey, he has been good enough and has had his bright spots. For a 6th round pick they could have done a lot worse.
Fusco has played in 30 career games starting 33 of them. Fusco struggled a bit his first two years, but really has come on in year 3. He doesn’t make plays that are part of highlight reels, but he makes a lot of key blocks and does the dirty work. He is solid in the run game and in pass protection. A true 6th round gem.
B – To get a starting offensive lineman in the 6th round is rare, so the Vikes get a passing grade here. Fusco was a solid starter in 2013 and should improve even more in 2014
Homan was cut in the 2011 preseason, picked up by Tampa Bay, then retired due to concussions.
F – Once again, its hard to give a pick this late an F, especially someone who had to retire due to concussions. However, because he had never played 1 down with the Vikings, once again the grade is justified.
Reed was another project pick the Vikings hoped they would get a good return on. He was able to hang with the team until preseason this year and was cut. He bounced around with the 49ers and Jaguars since
F – (see Ross Homan)
The Vikings drafted Burton to add some depth at WR and to give fellow draftee Christain Ponder some weapons. He was a hell of a pre-season player in in his career but never made much of his limited regular season reps with the Vikings. He was cut in the 2013 preseason and picked up by Jacksonville. He finished his Vikings stint with 15 receptions, 149 yards, and 1 td
D- – Burton is giving a passable grade for the fact he was a 7th round pick, but ended up with some playing time and a TD for Minnesota. He was a player that had promise, however he didn’t know what to do with it.
FINAL 2011 DRAFT GRADE
D + - This will go down as one of the Vikings worst drafts in a long time. The only real locks to be on the team in 2014 are Fusco and Rudolph and Rudolph is the only player that really saves this draft from being a complete player. With drafting Ponder, the Vikings passed up QB’s like Andy Dalton and Collin Kapernick. You can entirely fault the Vikings with some of their later picks as no one past round 5 (Richard Sherman, Seahawks) has made a Pro Bowl. In fact, Sherman is the only round 5 player to make a Pro Bowl.