Each of the Vikings five draft picks have started a game this season, which is a phenomenon that rarely happens for any team. The scenario can mostly be attributed to bad luck with injuries, but the amount these young players have stepped up cannot be dismissed.
Percy Harvin (1st round, WR/KR) is a front runner for rookie of the year, and will probably make an appearance in the Pro Bowl as a return man.
Phil Loadholt (2nd round, RT) has started all but one game so far this season and done a decent job holding his own. I would say that he is as effective as a mere rookie at right tackle as long-time starter Bryant McKinnie is at left tackle.
Asher Allen (3rd round, CB) has been featured the least of our rookies, but his fan base is rabid (you commenters know who you are). Allen has done a nice job filling in when needed, and save for a few missed tackles, appears to have major potential to get excited about.
Jasper Brinkley (5th round, MLB) was an instant stand out on special teams. It speaks volumes to how much the coaches think of him, being they did not hesitate for a second to plug him into the starting lineup after E.J. Henderson’s injury. His first start had some flaws, but it was not the disaster that the NFL sometimes sees when rookies make their first start. Improvement is an expectation, but this experience should lead to just that.
Jamarca Sanford (7th round, S) also has made some good plays on special teams and held up very well in his first start against the Bengals. Sanford has emerged as some legitimate competition for the starting strong safety spot, especially if he gets another chance to start this weekend… if Tyrell Johnson is still out with a head injury.
So, overall, this has proven to be a draft class with incredible production through the first 13 weeks of the season. While a draft class will be more accurately evaluated after a greater length of time has passed, the coaching staff and Vikings front office deserves props for a job that appears to be well done.
In a recent article (Thanks to Pat for the link), Don Banks does a “Re-Draft” in which he uses hind sight to mock out how the draft should have gone after knowing the results of rookie production thus far. He has Percy Harvin going third and Phil Loadholt going sixth.
So in other words, at least one pundit believes the Vikings snagged two top ten draft choices without even having to trade up… and at least one blogger agrees with him. Now THAT is draft value at its best.