2020 Draft Class
It may seem bold to already rank the Vikings 2020 draft class this high only two years in. Once you unpack it, though, it makes sense.
There are good, bad, and ugly picks in this class, but it starts and stops with Justin Jefferson. Jefferson might be the best player Rick Spielman ever selected, and he is going to have a long time in this league to prove that statement to be true.
Most yards for a wide receiver in their first two seasons ever, second-most receiving yards in a single season in team history already, it goes on and on. Justin Jefferson and his griddy dance have been electric these past two years when there has not been much else to be excited about for the Vikings.
Jefferson was pick No. 1 of 15 Spielman made in 2020, a true Spielman masterclass. His second selection was as bad as Jefferson’s was good. Cornerback Jeff Gladney played one season before being released after being indicted on a felony assault charge.
Could that have been predicted? Most likely not, but Gladney was not good in his debut season either way.
Ezra Cleveland was drafted in round two, presumably to be the replacement for Riley Reiff at left tackle. However, he has not seen any time at tackle in two years and has been a serviceable guard instead.
In a time where quality offensive line play has been hard to come by, particularly along the interior, getting above-average play from Cleveland is a welcome sign. He improved his overall run-blocking and pass-blocking PFF grades from year one to year two.
Next came Cam Dantzler, who has been up and down during his time on the field so far, not unlike most young cornerbacks in the league. As it stands, he is the best corner on the team under contract for 2022. That says more about the roster construction than it does him, though.
Expectations for Dantzler were not high as a third-round pick, so hopefully, he can continue to exceed them.
D.J. Wonnum was drafted to be a Danielle Hunter clone, but what Spielman and company failed to realize is no one is like Danielle Hunter. Wonnum has thrived mostly when he is unblocked or on broken plays and has been largely disappointing through two seasons.
The last real positive contributor from this class has been K.J. Osborn. Osborn never made an appearance on offense in 2020 and bounced back to be a real threat as a third wide receiver in 2021. His emergence was an unexpected boost to the offense as a fifth-round pick.
Kenny Willekes missed 2020 with an injury but showed some flashes late in the season this last year. He, along with James Lynch on the defensive line, should not be written off yet.
The jury is still out on most of the rest of the Vikings 2020 Day 3 picks, which I will refrain from listing them all just to save time. Drafting one of the best wide receivers in the NFL at pick No. 22 is a big bonus, and the depth behind him could make this a real solid class down the road.