Minnesota Vikings 2012 Draft: Fullback Rhett Ellison the Surprise Pick

Tanner ThomsSenior Analyst IApril 28, 2012

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 19: Tight end Rhett Ellison #40 of the USC Trojans gives a stiff arm to defensive end Terrell Turner #45 of the Oregon Ducks during the third quarter at Autzen Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Eugene, Oregon. USC won the game 38-35. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

In a surprising turn of events, the Minnesota Vikings decided to draft a fullback in the fourth round. It's a surprising move, not only because fullbacks rarely go this early, but because the Vikings don't view fullbacks to be of much importance.

It appears Ryan D'Imperio's days on the roster are over, and Ellison will likely be asked to start at fullback in his rookie season.

The great thing about Ellison is that he's 6'4", 251 pounds, so there's a great chance he spends time at linebacker. He has the chance to be a Spencer Larsen-type of player.

Ellison also played a lot at tight end. He had 21 receptions for 239 yards and three touchdowns as a junior and 22 catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns as a senior.

He's also as physical as it gets. USC offensive coordinator Kennedy Polamalu calls Ellison "the machine" because he's a beast who never gives up.

Ellison is also a sure-handed receiver. While he didn't get a lot of balls thrown his way, he made the most of those opportunities.

Right now, it's unclear how the Vikings plan to use him. They could use him in a Chris Cooley-type of role, but it's unlikely that he would get any chances to catch passes, as Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson will both be on the field at tight end.

To begin his career, Ellison will likely play on special teams. There's no doubt that Ellison will be able to make plenty of tackles on kickoffs. His speed is tremendous for someone his size, which is another key element.

Despite not having huge production at USC, Ellison was listed as a late fourth-round prospect, and that's exactly where the Vikings grabbed him.

Some fans may be upset with this pick, but the Vikings' needs are very few right now.

Let's not forget that we still have seven picks after this. I'm glad to have a player like Ellison on board.