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The Vikings may not find themselves resolving all of their tertiary concerns in the draft—concerns like linebacker depth will have to compete with some of the emerging issues the Vikings have had at cornerback and safety. While Minnesota might not be able to grab the second guard they could need or the third safety that would be useful to have in rotation, they can still come away with a successful draft if they go after two linebackers, two receivers and two defensive tackles.
In this case, the second linebacker would be Jake Knott, who has made some big plays for Iowa State in his time there, critical in his team's win over Oklahoma State and against Iowa. Knott would be a good grab in the seventh round, as his sideline-to-sideline speed is unusual for a linebacker found so late in the draft.
Generally good at diagnosing plays, he can react to the ball quickly and flow to the point of attack. More than that, he's willing to throw his body into run plays and take up blocks to free up other defenders. He has good strength and could project to be a Sam linebacker, relatively rare in this draft.
Most important to a linebacker, the Cyclone is a naturally good tackler who is fundamentally sound. He wraps well, even if he doesn't always knock the ballcarrier back because of how he drives through.
His range as a zone defender is also surprisingly good. He's not as fluid as one wants in pass coverage, and he might not line up well against quicker running backs or fluid tight ends, but he can still hold his own and play in large underneath zones.
Like all other picks in this mock, he's not a red flag due to injury (he broke his right arm in a 2011 spring practice, but has yet to miss a game) or character (by all accounts a hard worker, well respected by teammates and coaches, and elected as a captain). The reason he'll fall has to do with some things that can be corrected and a few that won't.
First, he is notoriously poor at the point of attack will get consumed by lead fullbacks or guards when engaged. He has flashed skill in this area on occasion, and can be taught to bring his hands up, but really struggles in hand technique as well as dropping his weight. He needs to learn to consistently make his hands explosive
Second, he has poor change of direction skills and transitions poorly from pass to run or vice versa, so getting caught up in a draw or a play action will expose big holes. While he generally reads the play well and shows good awareness getting into lanes, he doesn't recover when caught out of position.
Finally, his big problems generating power from the lower half of his body both allow him to give up extra yards after contact and getting a final explosive burst either in pursuit or shedding a block. While a controlled game is generally good (and definitely an asset of his), and he can find ways to keep himself alive in plays (sometimes hurdling defenders), he doesn't always show the ability to make up ground in pursuit or lay down the hammer when tackling. It also affects his pass-rushing abilities, which are limited.
Nevertheless, Knott is a good prospect to keep in reserve either at the Sam or Will spot, taking on lead blockers as a strong-side 'backer or flowing to the ball with sound fundamentals as a weak-side defender.