Sunday, February 9, 2014

Defense Should be the Top Priority

When it comes to the Vikings high first round draft pick, many people find the situation to revolve solely around the quarterback position when May approaches. Is this the most logical decision? Daniel House tells you why it isn't the best decision.

When it comes to the Vikings high first round draft pick, many people find the situation to revolve solely around the quarterback position when May approaches. Is this the most logical decision? The Vikings historically poor defense in 2013 raises the red flag about whether the team should look to bolster the defense, while adding a quarterback in the later portion of the draft. With the top class of quarterbacks likely selected by the time Minnesota uses their eighth selection, the team should look to add defense with their first round selection in 2014. With so many holes in the defensive group and a new coaching staff on this side of the ball, it makes perfect sense to address the needs this team has surmounted over the past few seasons. Jared Allen will be heading in a different direction and the team may part ways with Chad Greenway, who has a massive salary and recorded his most ineffective season of a short career. This provides the Vikings with more money to add multiple defensive backs, along with the added flexibility to resign Everson Griffen.

The Vikings will have a tough decision if Bridgewater, Manziel, or Bortles fall to their pick, but the likelihood of this proposition occurring is very slim. With this in mind, Mike Zimmer needs to find personnel that can fit within the defensive plans he has created for this team. The perfect opportunity to do so is through the draft by finding a guy who can immediately fit within your plans on defense. The Vikings nearly allowed the most points by a defense in Vikings history and the amount of yardage they awarded on defense was near the bottom of the league. We witnessed on Super Bowl Sunday how debilitating defenses can win many football games in this league and this team needs to follow suit.

The Vikings need to find a linebacker or game changing speed rusher to change games and pose matchup threats for offenses. Speed rusher Khail Mack will be available at the Vikings eighth selection, which could catch some intrigue from the Vikings scouting department. Mack is an explosive pass rusher and is very instinctive while doing so. He has had issues dropping to coverage, but his compact size and speed are very attractive skills when you evaluate the pass rusher. He has similar skill-sets to Brian Orapkpo of the Washington Redskins and would be a significant upgrade to the Vikings linebacking corps, especially if Chad Greenway is released this offseason.

Anthony Barr will likely be selected before the Vikings make their pick in May, but if he were available he will absolutely receive attention. Barr is a great tackler and has been rather impressive in coverage during his career at UCLA. This is an area the Vikings will be looking to address, as opposing running backs have shredded their linebackers in coverage over the past few seasons. Barr will be a brilliant pass rusher off the edge and his pursuit skills are some of the best to enter the draft in the past few seasons. He would fit more ideally in the 3-4 scheme, but could adapt if necessary. Many compare his skill-set to Von Miller of the Denver Broncos and his ability to pass rush and play in coverage are areas that could make him a game changer in the NFL.

It doesn't take a first round pick to draft a franchise quarterback, unless you are faced with a game changer such as Johnny Manziel. The likely scenario could result in the Vikings trading back with a team to accumulate more picks, while adding a solid defense player and drafting a quarterback such as David Fales in the second round. What defensive players could be targeted if the team decides to trade into the backend of the draft? Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley will be considered as a potential option in the 'trade-back' scenario. His coverage skills and blitzing abilities are impressive and the competition he has witnessed in the SEC will be positives when he is evaluated. Ra'Shede Hageman could be considered if the Vikings want to draft a speed-rusher who has all the freak intangibles. Hageman is a dynamic speed rusher and pulls in a massive frame with over 313 pounds of speed rushing abilities. The Vikings may move in this direction if Kevin Williams decides to leave in free agency, or if they feel he could be a rotational speed rusher for this team. He has the University of Minnesota connection and after a great week of Senior Bowl practices, he is becoming a mid-round pick in the first round.

As for David Fales, he is a product of San Jose State University and will be a name that continues to grow as the scouting combine concludes and pro-days intensify over the coming weeks. The 6'3" 220 pound quarterback exhibits the size to play in the NFL and his ability to stand tall in the pocket, while throwing lasers up the field are skills that are a paramount necessity from quarterbacks in this league. The more important statistic comes in the accuracy column, where Fales completed 72.1% of his passes in the 2012 season, but after switch to a more pro-style offense his percentage dropped to 63%.

He has developed the throw up the seam into tight windows and was nearly perfect at throwing to the back shoulder last season. Given he has played against awful MWC defenses during his career, many will shy away from Fales, but his pre-snap read and quick release are all traits that will garner attention from scouts in the NFL. The great touch he has developed on passes has been stellar, but he hasn't developed elite arm-strength at this point.

When you analyze how Fales would fit into Norv Turner's system, it seems he could slide into the role rather swiftly. Turner loves to utilize the tight end and his ability to slide the ball into tight spaces in the seam, has been compared to Brett Favre. He isn't afraid to take chances, but the main issue that will need to be evaluated during the combine and San Jose State pro-day is his ability to throw the ball down the longer portions of the field. Throwing the ball vertically is going to be huge in Turner's offense and if he shows any inability to throw the ball adequately down the field, he might not be the right fit. His tangibles are very enticing and with some work developing his mechanics, he has the size and skill-set to be a very quiet steal in the 2014 draft. The Vikings need to think strongly about bolstering their defense, while adding a quarterback in the later portions of the draft to follow suit of some of the teams who have quickly made a charge in the league. If Manziel, Bridgewater, or Bortles are off the board, the Vikings can bolster their defense, which is going to be one of the big issues that need to addressed entering this season. With Mike Zimmer being an elite defensive mind, it makes sense to develop the defense, while hoping to strike gold in the next round of the draft with a quarterback such as David Fales.

1 comment:

  1. I'd take Garrapolo over Fales. I think if the top 3 QBs are gone by the 8th pick, Vikings should trade down and get a stud defender (Nix, Mosley, Clinton-Dix, or a top CB). Then the Vikings should trade up from the 2nd to the end of the first (which Spielman loves to do) and get their pick of the "2nd" tier QBs.
    I also wouldn't mind trading the 8th overall and our 2nd rounder for the 4th overall and their (Cleveland's) 4th rounder. The points would be dang near perfect according to the draft trade chart. This would allow us to get a top 3 QB. We would give up a 2nd rounder, but we'd still have 2 picks in the 3rd round and 2 picks in the 4th round that Rick could package and move up if he wanted to