Sunday, May 5, 2013

Vikings Strike Gold in 2013 NFL Draft

The Vikings injected talent into their roster by selecting
3 talented players in the first round.

Viking's Corner's Daniel House gives you his thoughts on the entire Vikings 2013 Draft.


We all had hopes for the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the NFL Draft. We wanted the team to make the right decision and select impact players that would fill positional needs. The first round is one of the most critical parts of the 2013 Draft and can dictate the improvement or regression of a team. Starting out the draf we watched the offensive lineman slide off the board in the top ten, which caused many skill players to slide down the draft board. We got past the New York Giants at selection nineteen and we wondered if the Vikings would select a player like Manti Te'o, who was being closely watched during the process. Many including myself thought the Chicago Bears would select a middle linebacker for the future. It turned out that the Bears decided to select Kyle Long from Oregon. This meant that barring a major shakeup, Te'o would be available when the Vikings selected at pick 23. A need entering the draft was defensive tackle and the Vikings were looking to address this with one of their first round picks. As the draft progressed we watched projected top five pick Sharrif Floyd plummet all the way to the Vikings at selection 23. It was an opportunity they could simply not pass up at this juncture of the draft. Floyd was my top defensive tackle prospect and has amazing talent that can be groomed. He is a great run-stuffer, but has struggled in pass rush, which many link to his supposed "short arms." I don't see this as a problem, but more of motivator for Floyd to show that he can be elite in this league for seasons to come. 
A pick in between the Vikings second first round pick resulted in Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner being selected by the Indianapolis Colts. This left the Vikings with several options as they looked to find talent for the roster. Projected middle first round pick Xavier Rhodes was still available and fit the positional need at cornerback. Rhodes, a 6'2" 210 lbs. cornerback, fits the positional stature the Vikings are looking for to compete in the NFC North. With wide receivers like Calvin Johnson, James Jones, and Jordy Nelson all within the NFC North, the Vikings desperately needed a tall cornerback to cover tall and athletic wideouts from this division.  Rhodes is so quick for his stature and provides the Vikings with a deadly height advantage with Rhodes and Chris Cook. I was very happy the Vikings addressed cornerback because in this league, you can never have too many athletic players at this position. 

We all thought the evening was over, but the Vikings surprisingly made another move to secure a player they desired, in Cordarrelle Patterson. The Vikings decided to trade their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 7th round picks to obtain New England's 1st round pick (#29). Patterson, an athletic specimen from Tennessee brings speed and size, but maturity and game knowledge has been a concern. He only recorded one season in Division 1 football, as he was a junior college transfer. I personally could care less about the experience because it all comes down to the skill set. Patterson has the skills and just needs to be coached from a schematic standpoint. He can bring explosiveness on kick returns and will surely upgrade the wide receiver corps. 

The Vikings were silent on Day 2 of the draft, as they traded away their selections to move into the first round to select Cordarrelle Patterson. The Vikings started Day 3 with a glaring need at the linebacker position group. They addressed this early by selecting Penn State linebacker, Gerald Hodges. He was drafted as an outside linebacker, but based on tape I have watched, he can easily transition to the middle. Hodges led the Nittany Lions with 109 tackles last season and was third with 8.5 tackles for a loss.  I like his athletic ability and think he can easily be shifted to the middle of the linebacker corps.

The Vikings decided to address a position that recived a ton of criticism. In the fifth round, they selected UCLA punter Jeff Locke. This puts pressure on Chris Kluwe and forces him to step up as an option at punter. Mike Priefer is the best special teams coach in the NFL and decided to select Blair Walsh in the 5th round of last season's draft. This proved to be positive and we have to have faith that this is a similar decision. Locke statstically has double the amount of balls inside the twenty yard line and has a net average of 44 yards compared to Kluwe's 49. With some work, Locke and Walsh can become one of the best special teams groups in the NFL.

In the 6th round, the Vikings decided to address the hybrid offensive line position after losing Geoff Schwartz to free agency. UCLA's Jeff Baca is the only player in this draft class to have exposure to all five offensive line positions. This is significant for the Vikings as it gives them flexibility when an injury strikes at any position among the offensive line. He will certainly be someone to watch as training camp begins.

The 7th round came along and the Vikings decided to finally address the middle linebacker position by selecting Penn State's Michael Mauti. Mauti has had a history of knee problems and suffered 3 ACL tears while at Penn State. My belief is that if Eric Sugarman believed the knee would be a problem, the Vikings would have avoided him altogether. We have one of the best training staffs in the league, which can return Mauti to top form. From film I have noticed his great instincts and poise in the running and passing games. Without the knee injuries, he easily could have been a second or third round pick in the draft. I like the pick but it will be dependent upon whether the knee recovery goes as planned.

The Vikings once again address the offensive guard position by selecting North Carolina's Travis Bond. Bond measures in at 6'6" and weighs in at nearly 330 pounds. After the Independence Bowl, he reportedly weighed nearly 375 pounds. Conditioning has been an issue and will definitely will be a project for the Vikings. Bond has the weakness of being lazy and allowing the defense to get underneath him, but he is a great run blocker. He will be a work in progress and could make  his way onto the practice squad.

The final pick of the draft was one of my favorites of all the selections the Vikings made in the draft. Everett Dawkins of Florida State has a continuous motor and has great size at 6'1" 290 lbs. He has raw talent and needs to be groomed by a professional position coach. Many projected Dawkins to be a middle round pick and he slid to the back end of the draft. The Vikings provided a ton of depth at defensive tackle in this draft.

Overall, I grade the Vikings draft as an A-

With an excellent first round the Vikings provided an immediate injection of talent in just three players. Floyd provides an option for the Vikings when Kevin Williams departs next season, Rhodes gives the Vikings a skilled starter, and Patterson brings raw talent that needs tooling. The potential is there and the Vikings added the players they needed to improve several key positional needs. I would have liked the Vikings to address the middle linebacker position earlier in the draft for some insurance. With Audie Cole and Erin Henderson, I feel we are doing well at the positon, but I would have preferred one more option in case issues arise. I'm very happy with the decisions Rick Spielman made and only time will tell whether these players propel our favorite football team to football immortality.

Stay tuned for more coverage from Vikings Corner.

No comments:

Post a Comment