Sunday, February 22, 2015

Offensive Targets for the Vikings in the NFL Draft

Photo Courtesy of Bleacher Report

Daniel House discusses several options the Vikings could have if they decide to select an offensive player in the 1st round of the NFL Draft in April. 

Updated: February 22nd, 2015 11:40am

By: Daniel House

The Vikings need to find a vertical receiver who can make dynamic plays up the field. They were missing a receiver who could run fluent routes to gain separation in the second level of the defense. Cordarrelle Patterson is still very raw and the hope is that he can polish his game, learn the playbook, and run the routes necessary to be successful in Norv Turner's offense. None of us really know if this will happen and if the coaches feel there isn't light at the end of the tunnel, they may be forced to draft a wide receiver with the #11 selection.

They could also add an offensive lineman to help bolster a group who struggled to provide protection for Teddy Bridgewater last season. The Vikings finished last in pass blocking efficiency and might believe that building the offensive line is one of the critical areas to grow as a team over the coming years. They may decide they need more than depth in the later portions of the draft and might be forced to add a player like Brandon Scherff with their first round selection.

Finally, with the uncertainty surrounding Adrian Peterson, the Vikings could buck the trend and decide to select a running back in the top half of the draft. This year, there is a deep class of running backs, but the coaching staff might feel it is important to add a top-tier runner early in the draft.

However, defensive players could be the larger focus in the first round, but we know how Rick Spielman likes to make multiple selections in the first round.

With that said, I have provided a list of offensive players the Vikings could target with the #11 selection when the draft arrives in April.

Kevin White- WR: West Virginia- Kevin White measured in just a shade over 6'2" and running a 4.35 unofficial 40-yard dash time is causing him to rise up draft boards. During the positional drills, he showed his ability to track the ball, extend it over his shoulder, while using his frame to hall in vertical passes up the field. His ability to high-point the football makes him one of the best players at doing everything he can to attack the football. Many people are concerned because they feel he needs more experience as a player, especially since he was a JUCO player coming out of high school. Nonetheless, he has proven he has great footwork and gains separation off of defensive backs in the second level. He pairs together speed, size, and ball skills, which are all tangibles that could provide the Vikings an immediate upgrade at wide receiver. The big issue will be whether he is available, and it appears his stock could rise to a potential top-five ceiling.

Amari Cooper- WR: Alabama- Amari Cooper is the most polished and smooth route runner in this wide receiver class. Cooper finished with an impressive 4.42 unofficial 40-yard dash time and solidified his potential as a top-ten draft selection. He has solid hands and good speed, but many scouts feel he lacks elite ceiling that other receivers have. However, he is not raw, has the route running skills, and the speed to make dynamic plays for any team. If the steam continues to rise for Kevin White, the Vikings might find a top-tier receiver like Amari Cooper landing in their laps. They need to decide how comfortable they are at the wide receiver position, but if there is any uncertainty, Cooper could provide an answer to the question.

DeVante Parker- WR: Louisville- People have been hyping up the connection Teddy Bridgewater established with DeVante Parker in college. Looking at the numbers, Bridgewater wasn't necessarily throwing the ball to Parker on a consistent basis. However, this could be factored in the decision-making process. Parker is one of the best wide receivers at securing balls in traffic. He also has the size and ball skills to make plays on the vertical portion of the field. Parker needs a bigger frame and better footwork off the line of scrimmage. He is more raw than people think, but his athleticism and ability to make plays will be the areas that cause him to be selected in the first round. Cooper and White are better receivers and could be both selected by the time the Vikings pick. If that's the case, I could see the Vikings focusing on defense at this selection.

Dorial Green-Beckham- WR: Missouri- Selecting a wide receiver like Dorial-Green Beckham wouldn't make much sense for the Vikings at this juncture of the draft. Green-Beckham has had character issues in college and is extremely raw on the playing field. The Vikings are looking for immediate contributors and don't have much time to groom a player like Green-Beckham. Beckham has great size (6'6" 225 pounds) and paired this frame with a 4.49 40-yard dash time at the scouting combine. There are just too many questions surrounding Green-Beckham, but it seems as if a team might be willing to take a chance on his athleticism in the early portion of the first round.

Brandon Scherff- OT: Iowa- Brandon Scherff would be an immediate starter among the Vikings offensive line if he was selected with the 11th overall pick. Scherff could immediately be inserted at left guard and has the ability to kick out to tackle in a pinch. He is an extremely powerful run blocker that has the skills to move the pile. Scherff could do a better job at finishing his blocks and continuing to play through the whistle in the second level of the opposing defense. However, he has proven he has power and versatility as both a run and pass blocker. With the amount of hits that Teddy Bridgewater took on a consistent basis, the Vikings might decide that adding a top-tier offensive lineman is important for the growth of this team moving forward.

Melvin Gordon- RB: Wisconsin- Melvin Gordon is a freak of nature at his size and teams across the league are very intrigued about the skills he could bring to their backfield. The Vikings are very uncertain about the future of running back Adrian Peterson. If he is traded or released, the front office will most likely need to select a top-tier running back in this draft. The class is deep, but the Vikings might want to add a dynamic player like Gordon to compliment Jerick McKinnon. Despite his big frame, he ran an impressive 4.52 40-yard dash and put his athleticism on display for the scouts and coaches. Many believe he will be selected in the bottom half of the first round, but his performance at the college level, paired with his workouts, will cause him to be selected surprisingly early in April.

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