NFL re-drafts are an interesting exercise. When they're done a few years after the draft took place, you should have a pretty good idea of the quality of the players and the decisions teams would make if they could go back in time. But re-drafts like this one from Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports, done just one year after the fact, aren't as easy. Players often bounce back from poor rookie seasons or regress from impressive ones, so doing something like this requires a number of factors.
Regardless, it's always a good sign if a player goes higher in a re-draft than they did in real life. And that's exactly the case for two young Vikings stars.
Let's take a look.
Original pick: No. 22 overall (first round) to Vikings
New pick: No. 3 overall to Lions
The Lions have to revamp the receiver corps, and they don't hesitate to pick Jefferson this early.
Whoa! This is a pretty good indication of how special Jefferson was in year one. ESPN did a re-draft at the beginning of February where the LSU product went ninth overall, but that felt way too low. With how much teams value No. 1 receivers, it feels like Jefferson shouldn't slip out of the top five in a re-draft. He broke the Super Bowl era record with 1,400 receiving yards, but was snubbed for Offensive Rookie of the Year, which went to Justin Herbert (who, interestingly, goes No. 1 overall to the Bengals in this re-draft).
The Vikings landed a top-5 player in the draft, at worse, with the 22nd pick. That's the definition of a home run right there.
Original pick: No. 89 overall (third round) to Vikings
New pick: No. 12 overall to Lions
Dantzler finished the season much differently than it started for him, and his ball skills are of first-round caliber.
For as impressive as Jefferson was, there's an argument to be made that Dantzler was the Vikings' best value selection in last year's draft. He rises by a whopping 77 spots in Trapasso's re-draft, which is incredible. Dantzler could always cover at an elite level, putting up fantastic PFF grades and completion percentage numbers in the tough SEC. He fell because of questions about his thin frame and slow 40 time. This is another reminder that we sometimes discount production and fall in love with physical traits when looking at the draft. If guys can really play, and you see that on film, there's a solid chance it'll translate to the next level.
This also speaks to the success the Vikings' coaching staff had with Dantzler. He started slow, but hit his stride from Week 11 onwards and was one of the better cornerbacks in the league over that stretch. Landing a first-round caliber CB in the third round is a huge success, and it's especially important because of the shaky rookie year the Vikings' actual first-round corner had.
Original pick: No. 31 overall (first round) to Vikings
New pick: Not selected
It was a rough rookie year for Gladney, who isn't one of the 32 picks in this re-draft. ESPN did two rounds in their re-draft, and Gladney wasn't one of those 64 picks either (of note: Ezra Cleveland and D.J Wonnum both went in the second round in that one). Gladney showed a ton of ability as a tackler and run defender, but a corner's main job is to cover, and he looked like a rookie in that aspect for most of the season.
The good news is there's still plenty of time. Even though Gladney is already 24, it will help a lot if he gets to have more of a traditional offseason this year. Mike Zimmer and new DBs coach Karl Scott have plenty of work to do with Gladney, but the potential for a big year two jump is there because of his physicality and athleticism.
The Vikings' new picks
No. 22: Darnell Mooney (originally No. 173 overall to the Bears)
No. 25: Alex Highsmith (originally No. 102 to the Steelers)
The Vikings take Mooney with Jerry Jeudy still on the board, which seems like a massive overreaction to me. And Highsmith is an intriguing player, but I would take Jaylon Johnson at 25 if he was still available. Jeudy and Johnson would be a much better re-draft haul.
Anyways, that's not the point! The point is that Jefferson and Dantzler were phenomenal as rookies and have very bright futures.
Now it's up to Rick Spielman and the Vikings to find some more steals in this year's draft.
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