Analyst Gives Vikings Rookies the Worst Grade in NFC North for 2023 Season

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since Kwesi Adofo-Mensah took over as the general manager of the Vikings, drafting has been a highly discussed topic.

Many hoped he would improve upon some first-round misses that were seen under Rick Spielman, and while there certainly have been some promising prospects selected by Adofo-Mensah, some analysts and fans alike have been left wanting more.

This is evidenced by’s Eric Edholm, who recently went through and graded the rookie seasons for each team in the NFC North. Among the four teams in the division, the Vikings received the worst grade for their rookies’ performances in 2023.

Analyst Gives Vikings Rookies Worst Grade in NFC North

Vikings Rookies
Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) warms up before the game against the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The full order from Edholm saw the Detroit Lions and their rookie class take the top spot in the division, earning an “A-” grade for this season. Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers were not far behind, receiving a “B+”, and the Chicago Bears got a “B”. Then, bringing up the rear, the Minnesota Vikings received a “C”.

Here is a portion of the rationale behind Minnesota’s placement from Edholm:

The Vikings received big contributions from their first-round selection and an undrafted player. The problem was, they did not find enough in between. A lack of picks hindered Minnesota’s drafting efforts in 2023, as they had to wait nearly 80 selections between taking Addison in Round 1 and Blackmon in Round 3.

When discussing the Vikings’ 2023 Draft class and their overall haul of picks, it must be recognized that Minnesota traded their second-round selection as the major portion of their deal to acquire T.J. Hockenson. So, in essence, at least part of Hockenson’s production with the Vikings (155 receptions, 1479 yards, 8 TDs over 25 games) should be taken into account.

Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams (17) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. (40) during the first quarter at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

For the purposes of Edholm’s assessment, though, let’s get back to the rookies. Obviously, Jordan Addison and Ivan Pace led the way for Minnesota’s class. The duo played all 17 games and were among the team’s snap leaders for their respective sides of the ball.

Further down the list, there were flashes from Mekhi Blackmon at the cornerback spot, which should provide some hope for the future while Jaren Hall made two starts at QB following Kirk Cousins’ injury.

Outside of these players, though, there was not a ton of notable production from the class. Jaquelin Roy and Jay Ward each played fewer than 100 defensive snaps while DeWayne McBride spent the entire season on the practice squad without seeing any regular season action. NaJee Thompson was another undrafted free agent “diamond in the rough” for Minnesota, but his production comes solely on special teams.

NFL: Preseason-Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings
Aug 26, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Jay Ward (20) tackles Arizona Cardinals quarterback Clayton Tune (15) to cause a fumble in the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

With this context in place, it makes sense that Minnesota would fall to the bottom of the list. The Detroit Lions saw each of their first four picks (Jahmyr Gibbs, Jack Campbell, Sam LaPorta, Brian Branch) all play major snaps throughout the season on their road to the NFC Championship Game.

Green Bay got some very solid production out of their offensive draftees like Luke Musgrave, Jayden Reed, Tucker Kraft, and Dontayvion Wicks. Their first-round pick, Lukas Van Ness, also recorded eight tackles for loss and four sacks as a rotational defender.

Then, the Bears landed a very capable right tackle in Darnell Wright with the 10th overall pick while Tyrique Stevenson proved to be one of the best rookie cornerbacks in the league as a third-round selection.

Detroit Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs (26) runs against Atlanta Falcons safety Richie Grant (27) during the second half at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023.

Now, this is not to say that the 2023 Vikings draft class is doomed. Far from it. As mentioned, Blackmon looks to be a capable piece in the secondary while Roy and Ward, the LSU draftees, were buried on the depth chart due to the veteran presences on the defensive line and at safety.

With some of these veterans set to hit free agency, perhaps these players can find a way to be more productive in 2024. For now, though, Edholm’s ranking is a reasonable one.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Reference.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.