Minnesota Vikings 2012 Draft: 5 Prospects to Target on Day 3
The Minnesota Vikings have done a great job thus far in the draft at addressing the positions of biggest need, by selecting a left tackle, safety and cornerback.
The next step should be to take the best wide receiver available in order to give second-year quarterback Christian Ponder much needed weapons.
The Vikings currently hold nine picks on Day 3. They include three picks in the fourth round (No. 118, No. 128 and No. 134), plus back-to-back fifth-round picks (No. 138 and No. 139) and four picks in the sixth and seventh rounds combined (No. 175, No. 210, No. 211, No. 223).
With so many picks, trading up is nearly inevitable. I would not be surprised to see the Vikings move up early in the fourth round to take a guy they feel really strong about.
The following are seven guys the Vikings should be looking at to help them on Day 3.
WR Chris Givens
Although he does not possess ideal height for the position at just 5'11", 198 lbs, Chris Givens has plenty of speed to make up for it.
Last season at Wake Forest, the star receiver hauled in 83 catches for 1,330 yards and nine touchdowns. He followed that up by running a 4.41-second 40-yard dash at the combine, eighth fastest among all offensive skill position players.
Givens runs exceptional routes and has displayed great hands. Despite his less than ideal size, the wideout has the capability to play on the outside and is not restricted to the slot.
He is the top-rated player left on my board, and I am very high on his skill set. He would be the perfect deep-threat compliment to Michael Jenkins and Percy Harvin, and has much better character than the newly acquired Jerome Simpson.
WR Dwight Jones
The North Carolina product has great size at 6'3", 226 lbs, and can go up and get the ball over any defensive back.
Over the last two seasons, Jones recorded 147 catches for 2,142 yards and 16 touchdowns. At the combine he ran a 4.55-second 40, relatively good considering his size.
Jones should be around when the Vikings pick in the fifth round, and would be a nice developmental player who may blossom under NFL coaching.
He is a guy who was being discussed as a fringe first-round pick during the 2011 season, but off-field troubles have dropped his stock significantly. Minnesota could stash him behind Harvin, Jenkins and Simpson until he learns the nuances of the position.
MLB James Michael-Johnson
It appears evident that the Vikings are content with entering the 2012 season with Jasper Brinkley starting at "mike."
However, Brinkley is coming off of season-ending hip surgery, and there is no guarantee he will be able to play at the level he showed prior to the injury.
James-Michael Johnson would give the Vikings depth and insurance behind Brinkley, and should be available to take with one of their fourth-round picks.
The 6'1", 241-lb player from Nevada has great instincts and is one of the draft's best tacklers, something every team could use more of.
Johnson is a thickly built player and showed surprising speed at the combine by running a 4.68-second 40-yard dash. Combined with his 23 reps on the bench press and 37" vertical, Johnson is one of the most athletic linebackers in the draft.
OLB Nigel Bradham
In case you haven't noticed, the Vikings have no depth behind projected starting linebackers Chad Greenway, Erin Henderson and Jasper Brinkley.
An outside linebacker at Florida State, Bradham brings versatility to the table in that he has the ability to play all three positions at the next level.
The 6'2", 241-lb linebacker looks like he came right off the set of the movie 300. He is a very good tackler who excels in pursuit.
He could be around late in the fourth round or early in the fifth round, where the Vikings have a plethora of picks.
Adding depth at linebacker has to be near the top of the list for Rick Spielman on Day 3. Free-agent pickups Tyrone McKenzie, Marvin Mitchell and Solomon Elimimian have not shown the ability to be relied upon to step in and start due to injury.
SS George Iloka
George Iloka is an imposing figure in the secondary, measuring in at 6'4", 225 lbs. Despite his size, Iloka can play both strong safety and free safety.
The Boise St. product has surprisingly great hips and excels in zone coverage, making him a great fit with the Vikings.
Despite running a 4.66 40-yard dash at the combine, Iloka displays plenty of speed come game time. He was one of the Senior Bowl's top performers, meaning the Vikings coaches got plenty of time to watch him in person.
Pairing Iloka with Harrison Smith at safety would solidify Minnesota's backline for years to come. Many experts expected Iloka to be taken in the second round, so the Vikings may have to act quickly if they want him on Day 3.
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