Scouting Combine Prospects That Fit Minnesota's Biggest NFL Draft Needs

Mike Nelson@Mike_E_NelsonCorrespondent IFebruary 13, 2013

Scouting Combine Prospects That Fit Minnesota's Biggest NFL Draft Needs

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    It's that time of year again. The time to scout NFL prospects.

    The Minnesota Vikings have their fair share of needs. After wide receiver it's pretty muddled as to what the order should be, relative to the franchise's needs.

    In no particular order, defensive tackle, offensive guard, outside linebacker and middle linebacker are their top-five needs.

    This slideshow will scout eight prospects Minnesota could realistically draft with its first-round pick (No. 23 overall), and who all play positions that fit within Minnesota's needs. 

    There isn't an outside linebacker on this list, but that's because there doesn't appear to be one worth taking at No. 23.

    Three wide receivers, two middle linebackers, two defensive tackles and an offensive guard compose this slideshow.

    Let's go.

Alec Ogletree, Georgia, Middle Linebacker

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    The more attention I give mock NFL drafts, the more it seems Alec Ogletree will not be available when Minnesota picks. However, plenty of mock drafts have him going around Minnesota's No. 23 pick.

    Ogletree would be a great fit in Minnesota's defense. He's best as a run defender, according to Walter Football, and can cover the field sideline to sideline. He's a former safety, so he's an above average pass-defender.

    He missed the first four games of 2012 after failing a drug test, but recorded 111 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and an interception in 10 games.

    CBS Sports' Rob Rang said "there isn't a more exciting linebacker prospect in the 2013 draft" than Ogletree (6'3" and 232 pounds). That same report also diagnosed Ogletree as a linebacker who misses a few too many tackles, which could make him a bust like Seattle Seahawks' linebacker Aaron Curry (No. 4-overall in 2009 draft, recorded just 203 tackles in four years).

    Ogletree has long arms and a frame with room to grow.

    Bleacher Report's Matt Miller ranks Ogletree as the No. 23 prospect.

Manti Te'o, Notre Dame, Middle Linebacker

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    Before the draft process began, many projected Manti Te'o as a certified top-10 pick in 2013.

    Now, given his off-field issues and his underwhelming performance in the BCS National Championship, he's slated to fall anywhere from No. 15-overall to the end of the first round.

    Te'o has improved his pass coverage in 2012 and is now projecting as a three-down linebacker. His athleticism and speed are concerns, but he has strong instincts.

    This past season he recorded 113 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and seven interceptions.

    His off-field issues may scare off some teams, but it's not like he has a drug problem or any other pending legal issues. His talent trumps any potential risk off-field if he's available at No. 23.

    Bleacher Report's Matt Miller ranks him as the No. 26 prospect.

Sylvester Williams, North Carolina, Defensive Tackle

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    Sylvester Williams reminds me of current Vikings defensive tackle, Kevin Williams.

    The two Williams men are similarly sized: Sylvester at 6'2" and 313 pounds and Kevin at 6'5" and 311 pounds. Sylvester, Like Kevin when coming into the league, projects to be well-rounded defensive tackle who could stuff the run and get after the quarterback.

    Sylvester recorded 13.5 tackles for loss, six sacks and 42 tackles in 12 games. Kevin had 54 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and four sacks in his final year at Oklahoma State University

    Scouts Inc., on ESPN.com's Insider, rates Sylvester as a "1" against the run and a "2" as a pass rusher on a scale of 1-5 (1 being the best).

    Bleacher Report's Matt Miller ranks him as the No. 77 prospect.

John Jenkins, Georgia, Defensive Tackle

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    While Sylvester Williams compares to Kevin Williams, John Jenkins compares to former Vikings defensive tackle Pat Williams.

    Jenkins is a great, big load (6'3" and 359 pounds). That grandiose frame is great at plugging the middle of the field and slowing the run. He's not known for his pass-rushing skills, but he can explode off the line of scrimmage and occasionally wreak havoc behind the line, according to Walter Football.

    Scouts Inc., through ESPN.com Insider, lists Jenkins as a "1" against the run and "3" as a pass-rusher.

    Bleacher Report's Matt Miller ranks Jenkins as the No. 53 prospect.

DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson, Wide Receiver

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    DeAndre Hopkins saved his best performance for last.

    The Clemson wide receiver caught 82 passes for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns in his junior season. All three were career highs.

    Hopkins (6'1" and 200 pounds) "burned defenses with his deep speed while showing reliable hands and good route running" in 2012, according to Walter Football.

    Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com wrote: "Hopkins has very good focus and quick hands to locate and pluck the ball out of the air, showing fluid body control and adjustments. He does a nice job setting up his routes to keep defenders off balance and attack the ball at it's highest point. If the ball is thrown in Hopkins' area, he goes and gets it."

    He has the size to be a red-zone threat and the ability to be the deep threat Minnesota's lacked for some time.

    Bleacher Report's Matt Miller has him ranked as the No. 46 prospects and sixth-best receiver.

Terrance Williams, Baylor, Wide Receiver

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    Terrance Williams is a very versatile receiver with the ability to make plays all over the field. He isn't restricted to the flats, the sideline, deep or the red zone.

    His skills allow him to make plays wherever his offense needs him.

    Walter Football writes, "He has been making tough catches in the short to intermediate part of the field while also making long catches downfield. Williams' deep speed was very impressive." He is projected to run a 4.5-second 40-yard dash and rates him as the No. 2 wide receiver.

    He has good size (6'2" and 205 pounds), which enables him to be versatile. This past season he caught 97 passes for 1,832 yards and 12 touchdowns.

    CBS Sports' Pete Prisco says Minnesota should make Williams its first-round pick.

    Bleacher Report's Matt Miller ranks Williams as the No. 27 prospect.

Justin Hunter, Tennessee, Wide Receiver

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    Justin Hunter has the combination of size (6'4" and 200 pounds) and speed to be a deep threat and a difference maker in the red zone.

    Walter Football projects Hunter to run a 4.48-second 40-yard dash. Hunter isn't Randy Moss-fast, but more than fast enough.

    The biggest concern with Hunter is that he's already had one major knee surgery, which cost him most of his 2011 season. That injury has hindered his speed.

    If fully healed, he could be a top wide receiver.

    Hunter caught 73 passes for 1,083 yards and nine touchdowns in his final season as a Volunteer

    Bleacher Report's Matt Miller ranks Justin Hunter as the No. 59 prospect.

Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina, Guard

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    Jonathan Cooper could team with John Sullivan and Matt Kalil to form one of the best left sides in football.

    Cooper, a well-rounded guard, is known most for his pass-blocking skills but is still strong against the run. He's projected to go middle to late first round, meaning he may be gone before Minnesota has a chance to snatch him up.

    Walter Football writes that Cooper "is very athletic and projects to being a good pass-protector" and "gets to blocks on the second level" well. It adds that, barring injury, Cooper should start very quickly for whichever team drafts him and be a difference maker. It says a little size wouldn't hurt (6'3" and 310 pounds).

    Bleacher Report's Matt Miller ranks him as the No. 22 prospect.