Read all about the Vikings 2014 NFL Draft class and see what Daniel House has to say about all of the selections.
The Vikings added a wealth of talent to their roster with the NFL Draft this week. I have complied my thoughts on each draft pick in rounds 3-7 below.
Round 3: Pick 96- Jerick McKinnon, RB: Georgia Southern
McKinnon is is going to be a very developmental player for the Minnesota Vikings this season. Many were surprised the Vikings spent a thrid-round selection on a running back in this draft. McKinnon has 4.4 speed and insane measurables to add to his 5'9" 209 pound frame. McKinnon has experience at running back, quarterback, and cornerback in his college career. He rushed for 1,050 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, while having a fantastic game against the Florida Gators last season. He is extremely strong and led the running backs at the scouting combine in bench press reps. McKinnon is a weak pass protector and has only corralled 10 career college receptions. This is certainly surprising, especially with the amount of reliance Norv Turner has placed on running backs catching the ball out of the backfield. McKinnon will be competing for the second or third running back slot with Matt Asiata, Bradley Randle, and Zach Line during the offseason workouts. He is certainly an explosive player with plenty of tools, but will need coaching and experience to take him to the next level.
Round 5: Pick 145- David Yankey, OG: Stanford
How was David Yankey still available for the Vikings in the fifth round of this draft? He was projected as a first or second round draft pick at points this draft season, but poor play in his senior season led to his plummet. He is an extremely effective pass protector, which is easily his most impressive tangible. Yankey has played at both guard and tackle and is an extremely durable three-year starter. Furthermore, he is a smart athlete and is dependable to be a leader on the offensive line. Yankey needs work at getting to the second level and corralling blockers, but with work in the classroom and on the field with offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, he can correct these weaknesses. The Vikings have a definite need at guard and after signing Charlie Johnson to a one-year deal, David Yankey is the perfect solution to fixing the Vikings issues at left guard.
Round 6: Pick 182- Antone Exum, CB: Virginia Tech
Antone Exum has had injury problems, which led to his slide in the NFL draft. He tore his ACL last season in a pickup basketball game, but returned for three games in October, before suffering a high ankle sprain. Exum is an extremely physical player, who during his junior season, tallied 48 tackles, 16 pass breakups, and 5 interceptions. The Vikings desperately needed help in the secondary of their defense and felt the risk and reward with Exum was high. He has saw experience at safety, but his best season came when he played cornerback. Rick Spielman has indicated Exum will see time at safety for Minnesota. The Vikings have flexibility with his abilities and if the training staff can be sure he is healthy, he has impact playmaking abilities. Overall, he has great size and athleticism, but durability will be the biggest question mark.
Round 6: Pick 184- Kendall James, CB: Maine
Kendall James is a player with pure athleticism and an ability to make incredible plays. He recorded two interceptions, while adding 36 solo tackles. He has incredible leaping ability (39-inch vertical jump), along with timed speed. James needs to get stronger and tallied just 9 bench press reps, which was among the bottom of the defensive back class. He is a great tackler, but is slightly undersized at 5'10" and just 180 pounds. He will get outmuscled at times, but with work in the weight room, he has the athleticism to be a solid special teams player and a potential cornerback for the future.
Round 7: Pick 220- Shamar Stephen, DT: Connecticut
This was an extreme value pick at this juncture of the NFL draft. Stephen was a third-round draft pick on most draft boards and his slide was very surprising. He has a strong motor and has a massive size and frame. Stephen can can tend to be lazy getting off the line of scrimmage and can't fight through double teams like he should be able to. He is very big and athletic and with the development of his raw talents, he could be a nice 4-3 rushing defensive tackle.
Round 7: Pick 223- Brandon Watts, OLB: Georgia Tech
Brandon Watts was drafted with the thought of upgrading the Vikings linebacker corps, which was a huge disappointment last season. He was a projected fourth round pick and is a speedy product. I really like his coverage skills, which is an area that needs steadfast improvement. He struggled to keep up with athletic receivers, but he is a solid tackler in space. He is slightly undersized to play in the middle, but could play a huge role in special teams for the Vikings.
Round 7: Pick 225- Jabari Price, CB: North Carolina
Jabari Price was a value pick for the Vikings and was projected to be a fifth or sixth round pick in this draft. He is a solid tackler who can be adequate in run support, which is something the Vikings were missing last season. Price has great speed and acceleration in space, but he has poor instincts. He lacks adequate size at 5'10", but can be a solid contributor on special teams and in a minimized role as a backup.
The Vikings focused on athleticism in this draft and added players who can contribute to the team speed philosophy.