2019 Draft Class
Is it a little bold to rank such a recent draft class so low? Potentially. However, the Vikings 2019 draft class also appears to lack a big-time contributor similar to the 2016 one.
This class originally ranked last for me before coming to my senses about how sad the 2016 class was. Irv Smith Jr is also a potential lifebuoy for this class.
Smith Jr showed some impressive potential down the stretch in 2020 before missing all of 2021 with a knee injury. The possibility of him bouncing back and being a top-10 or so tight end in the NFL is keeping this class afloat.
Garrett Bradbury is, unfortunately, going to weigh this class down quite a bit. He has started 45 games over three years, and his PFF pass-blocking grade has ranked dead last among full-time starting centers every year.
Pairing Bradbury’s inability to pass-block and anchor with Kirk Cousins’ struggle with interior pressure has wounded the Vikings’ offense each season. Drafting an athletic but undersized center just because he fit the team’s blocking scheme has proved to be unsuccessful. Not to mention Elgton Jenkins and Erik McCoy were drafted behind him and have been good thus far.
Alexander Mattison has faired well as a Dalvin Cook lookalike, tricking announcers into thinking it is once again Cook getting the ball when Mattison gets his four touches a game. Mattison has been a serviceable replacement when Cook goes down, but wasting a Day 2 pick in the draft on someone you don’t plan to play when everyone is healthy is a bad look.
Armon Watts leaped onto the scene in 2021 and could be a steal of a sixth-round pick. Bisi Johnson tore his ACL before the season began but exceeded everyone’s expectations of him in his first two years.
The rest of the 2019 class either did not make any impact or has been a net negative when on the field, such as Dru Samia, Kris Boyd, and Oli Udoh.
While Irv Smith Jr can certainly elevate how this draft class is viewed, the overall lack of attention given to positional value during this draft will always stick out. Minnesota desperately needed this class to pan out after a disappointing 2018 season, and the result has been one playoff appearance in the three years since.