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NFL Minnesota Vikings

2013 NFL Draft: Grading Minnesota Vikings’ First-Round Picks

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Grades for the Minnesota Vikings' Three First-Round Picks

Patterson
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off an impressive 10-6 campaign in 2012, the Minnesota Vikings were a few impact players away from being contenders again in 2013.

The Vikings went into the 2013 NFL Draft with two first-round picks in hand, ready to add the best talent available. Instead of settling for two selections, though, they acquired a third first rounder, sending the New England Patriots their second-, third-, fourth- and seventh-round picks for the No. 29 overall selection.

While it may seem like a steep price to pay, there’s no denying that the Vikings made the most of the opportunities that were presented to them with those three picks on Day 1 of the draft. In the end, moving up to procure another first-round talent was well worth the price of admission.

Since he took over as the Vikings’ shot-caller on draft day, GM Rick Spielman has done a tremendous job of snagging quality talent with the picks that he has to work with. The fun started last year when four of their ten picks in the 2012 NFL Draft became starters in their rookie seasons. Matt Kalil became a Pro Bowl left tackle, Harrison Smith proved to be the leader the defense was missing and Blair Walsh was arguably the best kicker in the NFL. Spielman has this whole draft thing down after 23 years of NFL executive experience.

This year appears to be no different. The Vikings made a splash in the first round, and still have several picks to work with in the final day of the draft. Before we start looking ahead, though, let’s peak back at what happened on April 25.

How did the Vikings’ three first-round picks grade out? Take a look.

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Sharrif Floyd, Defensive Tackle, Florida

Floyd
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

I will be the first to admit that I’m not a fan of this pick. After extensive film study of Floyd, I wasn’t at all impressed with what he had to offer.

While the 6’2’’, 297-pound defensive tackle showed flashes of disruptive ability, there were far too many stalemates for a supposed “elite” prospect. He routinely failed to break blocks and seemed too complacent. Still, he has plenty of potential as a penetrator and playmaker and was a tremendous value for the Vikings at No. 23.

Floyd should step in immediately as an interior force alongside Kevin Williams. He’ll eventually take over for Williams, but should learn plenty from the Pro Bowler as he develops into an NFL-caliber defensive tackle.

And if I had to choose between him and Manti Te’o, I’d take Floyd every time.

Grade: B

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Xavier Rhodes, Cornerback, Florida State

Rhodes
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this month, the Vikings lost the Antoine Winfield sweepstakes, effectively making the cornerback position a sore thumb heading into 2013. While I wasn’t expecting them to draft one in the first round, Rhodes makes a ton of sense for the Norsemen.

Rhodes has arguably the highest ceiling of any cornerback in the 2013 draft class. The former Seminole is a physical player with the tools to excel in press coverage while also showing a willingness to play the run. With fluid hips, good recovery speed and the ball skills to create turnovers, Rhodes will likely be a Day 1 starter for the Vikings across from Chris Cook.

It might not have been the pick that many expected from the Vikings, but they get a physical cornerback who can fill Winfield’s role on the defense and add talent to a position that’s often depleted due to injury.

Another underrated draft pick from Spielman and Co.

Grade: A

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Cordarrelle Patterson, Wide Receiver, Tennessee

Patterson
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Easily my favorite player in this year’s class, Patterson has the potential to be a dynamic playmaker at the next level. With an outstanding size-speed combo and the elite elusiveness that doesn’t come around often, Patterson is a terrific get for the Vikings.

By what I’ve seen from Patterson, he’s a bigger, stronger version of Percy Harvin. With rare open-field elusiveness and the shiftiness of a scat-back, he’s lightning in a bottle when there’s a sliver of space. While it’s going to take some time to get to Harvin’s level considering his rawness, Patterson has the tools to develop into a top-tier offensive weapon in Minnesota.

There are plenty of questions about his lack of production and unpolished route running, but Patterson should still slide in at No. 2 across from Greg Jennings from the get-go. Christian Ponder must be smiling from ear to ear with the Tennessee product aboard.

While it’s unfortunate that the Vikings had to give up four picks in order to get back into the first round, it’ll be completely worth it if Patterson lives up to his potential. His ceiling is as high as any wide receiver in the 2013 class.

Grade: A+