NFL Draft 2013: 5 Players the Minnesota Vikings Front Office Should Avoid
1999: Dimitrius Underwood
2000: Chris Hovan
2005: Troy Williamson, Erasmus James
Since then, the Vikings have been on a considerable hot streak:
2006: Chad Greenway
2007: Adrian Peterson
2009: Percy Harvin
2011: Christian Ponder
2012: Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith
While the jury may still be out on Christian Ponder, the Vikings have fared well over the last seven years. Looking ahead to the 2013 NFL draft, there are a handful of players the Minnesota front office should avoid if the Vikings do not want to revert back to 2005.
1. Matt Barkley
QB Matt Barkley, USC
Many in Minnesota are ready to run Christian Ponder out of town. His play throughout the season was shaky at best, and he finished the season 25th in passing yards and 23rd in touchdowns.
With such uncertainty heading into the 2013 season, why not draft a solid prospect waiting in the wings? If Ponder regresses, you have a viable option to take over the reins, and if Ponder succeeds, you have trade leverage to address other position needs.
In my opinion, Matt Barkley is not a viable option. He will be a third-tier starting quarterback transitioning to a backup role after a few years in the NFL.
Matt Leinart? Mark Sanchez? These are blueprints of the career Barkley will have in the NFL.
2. Manti Te'o
ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
Even before the girlfriend hoax story broke, I was not sold on Manti Te'o as a top-10 draft pick. He has limited recovery speed and gets swallowed up in blocks.
While average height for his position, stronger opposition has limited his impact (see BCS title game). Combine that with either serious character or intelligence issues and you have a player spiraling down draft boards.
If Te'o is available when the Vikings select at No. 23, they should not consider the Notre Dame senior. Rick Spielman would be better served selecting Alec Ogletree if the Vikings choose to select a linebacker.
3. Justin Hunter
WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
After a promising 2010 season as a freshman, Justin Hunter tore his ACL in the third week of action in 2011. While he returned for the 2012 season, the Tennessee junior was never quite the same.
At 6'4", Hunter has the height to present an outside threat but lacks several other tools as a wide receiver. His hands were unreliable in 2012 with several drops, and he needs to build strength to come off press coverage.
While the Vikings will be considering a wide receiver in the first round, they would be better served looking elsewhere. Hunter's mental struggles on the field are reminiscent of Troy Williamson.
4. John Jenkins
DT John Jenkins, Georgia
Mel Kiper Jr. recently highlighted John Jenkins as a possible option at No. 23 if the Vikings choose not to select a wide receiver. I disagree and would not put Jenkins on the team's draft board. Minnesota runs a 4-3 defense, where the Georgia senior would fit best in a 3-4 defense as a nose tackle—possibly to Green Bay or San Francisco later in the first round.
While Jenkins has pure size at 6'3" and 350 pounds, he has poor balance and lacks a constant motor to play to the whistle. Sharrif Floyd is the far superior choice if he is still available.
5. Robert Woods
WR Robert Woods, USC
With an impressive college career, Woods is projecting to be a late first-round draft pick. He has displayed good speed and strong route running, with an ability to break tackles.
My problem with the USC standout is that he is not a No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL. He catches the ball with his body and has struggled with drops. Woods has also played through ankle injuries, resulting in surgery prior to the 2012 season.
With other choices at wide receiver or the option to wait for the second round, the Vikings should scratch Woods from their draft board.
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