2018 NFL Draft Grades: Minnesota Vikings added value on Day Three
The Minnesota Vikings selected a lot of high-value players on day three of the draft. I was not enamored with what the Vikings did in the first two rounds, but in totality, it is hard not to get excited about their final haul.
Round 1 – Pick 30 Mike Hughes – CB – UCF – Jr
Mike Hughes had a spectacular one season for UCF. He transferred from a JUCO after getting kicked out of North Carolina. Hughes is excellent in man coverage and offers value as a return man. He could be the nickel corner this year.
Round 2 – Pick 62 Brian O’ Neill – OT – Pittsburgh – Sr
Brian O’Neill is a former tight end. He is super athletic for the position. O’Neill is still very raw. He was exposed during Senior Bowl practices during one-on-one drills. With Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers entrenched as starters this season, O’Neill should be able to sit and develop. He could be ready for a starting role in 2019.
Round 4 – Pick 102 Jalyn Holmes – DL – Ohio State – Sr
Jalyn Holmes was just another guy at the Senior Bowl. Nothing special but nothing embarrassing either. Holmes should be a solid reserve at defensive end.
Round 5 – Pick 157 Tyler Conklin – TE – Central Michigan – Sr
Tyler Conklin is a terrific athlete. He is a former basketball player. Conklin works well in the red zone. He has excellent hands. Conklin should be a nice compliment to Kyle Rudolph for the Vikings.
Round 5 – Pick 167 Daniel Carlson – PK – Auburn – Sr
Kicking has been a bit of a sore spot for Minnesota. Daniel Carlson has a huge leg and was my top rated kicker. The Vikings traded up to draft him. I do not see Kai Forbath beating him out.
Round 6 – Pick 213 Colby Gossett – OG – Appalachian State – Sr
Colby Gossett is a tremendous run blocker. He showed tremendously at the Senior Bowl as a pass blocker. I had a third-round grade on Gossett. I would not be shocked to see him earn a starting role as a rookie.
Round 6 – Pick 218 Ade Aruna – EDGE – Tulane – Sr
I had a fourth-round grade on Ade Aruna. He played out of position at Tulane. The Green Wave coaching staff had him playing nose tackle. Aruna is best served to rush off the edge. Aruna ran a 4.61 forty with a spectacular 1.6-second 10-yard split. His get off is tremendous. As a rookie, I anticipate he will start as a sub-package rusher, maybe from the inside, but possibly off the edge.
Round 7 – Pick 225 Devante Downs – LB – Cal – Sr
Downs is a player I never saw play. I expect the Vikings liked what they saw from his workout and didn’t want to compete for his services as an undrafted free agent. He is a longshot.
Holton Hill, CB, Texas
Korey Robertson, WR, Southern Miss
Hercules Mata’afa, EDGE, Washington State
Jake Wieneke, WR, South Dakota State
Mike Boone, RB, Cincinnati
The Vikings did an amazing job bringing in talent as undrafted free agents. I had a third-round grade on Holton Hill. He is a big, long corner with nice ball skills. He has a ton of off-field issues, not limited to marijuana use. Korey Robertson is a sure-handed wide receiver who is also a good route runner. He didn’t test as well as he thought he would and that cost him. Hercules Mata’afa was a productive pass rusher at Washington State. The Cougars had him playing defensive tackle but that was never going to fly at the NFL level.
Mata’afa’s lack of positional direction killed his draft stock. He and Robertson should have returned to school. Jake Wieneke catches everything thrown his way. He is an excellent route runner and is dominant on 50/50 balls. The problem is he doesn’t have the speed to separate and that is why he has to catch so many 50/50 balls. Mike Boone is an incredible athlete who just didn’t have the production to back up his workout numbers. I believe all five of these players will either make the 53 man roster or earn a spot on the practice squad.
The Minnesota Vikings were the best team in the NFC North a year ago and nothing they did in this draft is going to hurt their chances to repeat that success in 2018. The Vikings’ Super Bowl fate is dependent on Kirk Cousins being able to elevate the offense past the levels of Case Keenum a year ago. The defense should be as stout as ever.