Reviewing the Minnesota Vikings' 5 Biggest Scouting Combine Takeaways
Their five biggest needs (outside linebacker, middle linebacker, defensive tackle, offensive guard and wide receiver) will guide their 2013 draft and should have been the five positions they were scouting closest while in Indianapolis.
And those are the five positions I will focus on here.
Minnesota, and the rest of us, learned some things about a variety of players Minnesota may be eyeballing with its first two picks in 2013, given its needs.
All five positions will be addressed in this slideshow with each position featuring four players Minnesota could select with its first or second round pick and what we learned about them via the combine.
Manti Te'o, Notre Dame: With his girlfriend hoax earning media attention left and right, Te'o was under that much more scrutiny than his on-field performance warranted entering the combine. Valid concerns were raised about Te'o's athletic abilities prior to the combine with many teams concerned about him in that department.
The combine did little to ease those concerns.Te'o ran a 4.82-second 40-yard dash and weighed in at 240 pounds. He wasn't expected to run an eye-opening 40-yard dash but was expected to push the scales further than 240.
With his slower-than-expected 40 and light weigh in, Te'o should be available when Minnesota picks at No. 23 overall and maybe even when it picks at 55.
Te'o is a play maker. He demonstrated that in college. But given his small stature and slow 40, the Vikings should avoid him in Round 1. They should consider him at No. 55, depending on who is still available.
Alec Ogletree, Georgia: Off-the-field issues continue to dog Ogletree, who was recently cited with a DUI to accompany his four-game suspension for failing a drug test. And a strong combine would help appease teams' concerns about his off-field activities.
Ogletree, known as a slightly undersized linebacker who's fast and plays sideline to sideline, underwhelmed with his 4.7-second 40-yard dash. Now, there's more to football than running in straight lines.
Ogletree played faster than that at Georgia and that, combined with his frame built to take on more weight (6'3" and 232 pounds) and good pass defense, is why he would be a good selection at No. 23, should he still be available.
For those concerned about his off-field issues, see Jared Allen. He had a DUI to his name prior to becoming a Viking and he's been an upstanding citizen since donning the purple and gold (to the best of the public's knowledge).
He recorded 85 tackles, 18.5 for loss and 6.5 sacks in 2012. Walter Football suggests he may be built for a 3-4 system with a blitzing interior linebacker, or as a strong-side linebacker in a 4-3. But his size mirrors that of Ogletree, who is viewed as a viable 4-3 middle linebacker.
The knocks on Reddick are his over-pursuit combined with limited recovery speed while still being viewed as a hard-working and intelligent player.
Nothing at the combine refutes any of that, and I still believe Minnesota could do better in Round 2.
Jonathan Bostic, Florida: Bostic is projected to be taken as early as the second or third round. But Minnesota could do better.
Bostic was a top recruit at Florida who never truly lived up to the hype. He recorded 62 tackles and 6.5 sacks in his senior season. Not exactly overwhelming.
He has good size (6'1" and 245 pounds) and has good straight-line speed (4.61 40-yard dash), but his inconsistency in college and scouting reports lead me to believe he won't be much different than Jasper Brinkley. Given that it may take a second round pick to acquire him, Minnesota should pass.
Justin Hunter, Tennessee: Should Minnesota opt for a wide receiver in the first round, it better make sure it hits a home run. That's why Justin Hunter shouldn't be its first round choice.
The more I read on Hunter, the scarier a first round choice he would be. He has a history of drops and injury concerns—rooted in a torn ACL in the 2011 season.
He has good speed (4.44-second 40-yard dash), size (6'4" and 200 pounds) and the ability to out-jump defensive backs (39.5-inch vertical leap). He has the potential to develop into something special. That's why he'd be a good second round pick, but too much of a gamble for the first.
Terrance Williams, Baylor: Any team that selects Williams would appear to be playing it safe. He is the opposite of Justin Hunter. He has the on-field productivity to comfort NFL teams but his combine numbers don't overwhelm. A 4.52-second 40-yard dash is average. His stature (6'2" and 208 pounds) is above average. And his 32.5-inch vertical is good.
The knocks on Williams are effort concerns and route-running abilities. He's a strictly an outside receiver who excels down field, which is what Minnesota needs. He's a fringe first-round pick, but would be a great value should he be on the board at No. 55.
DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson: As productive as any receiver in college football last season (82 receptions for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns), Hopkins was out to improve his draft status at the combine. He improved it slightly.
His vertical leap measured 36 inches, he ran a 4.57-second 40-yard dash and measured out at 6'1" and 214 pounds.
Hopkins wasn't known for his speed entering the combine. So his 40 time demonstrates that he possesses the average speed everyone expected him to. The vertical and stature are pluses. They suggest that he can be a red-zone threat down the road while using his size to win jump balls outside the red zone, too.
Hopkins excelled down field at Clemson, and he would be a smart grab should at No. 23.
Keenan Allen, California: Allen didn't participate in any physical activities at the NFL combine. Given that and the performances of other receivers there, Allen should still be on Minnesota's radar for its first-round selection.
Allen has the size (6'2" and 206 pounds) and college productivity (61 catches for 737 yards and six touchdowns in an injury-shortened 2012 that ended with conference honorable mention accolades and 98 catches for 1,343 yards and six touchdowns in a full 2011 that ended with all-conference accolades).
Minnesota must ensure his knee, which cost him the final three games of 2012, is fine before using its first-round pick on him.
Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina: Cooper is expected to be the creme of the crop available at his position when Minnesota selects at No. 23, if he's there at all.
Cooper is known for his agility, pass-blocking skills, and ability to get to the second level on running plays. He's not known as an overpowering presence, which is why his bench press was stellar. He did 35 reps of 225 pounds, tied for second best by an offensive lineman.
He posted a 5.07-second 40-yard dash, tied for 10th best. He measured at 6'2" and 311 pounds. He'll be a first round pick and if available, would be a smart selection for Minnesota.
Travis Frederick, Wisconsin: Depending who you poll, Frederick is pegged as a center or a guard. He has experience at both positions and could play either in the NFL.
He has size (6'4" and 312 pounds) and played at Wisconsin, which bodes well for him. But his combine wasn't impressive. He benched 225 pounds 21 times and posted a 5.58 40-yard dash.
But he is versatile and intelligent, which would make him a solid second round pick (should Minnesota not address offensive line in the first round).
Barrett Jones, Alabama: Just like Frederick, it depends on who you ask to what position Jones projects at. Unlike Frederick, Jones projects more as a center than guard. But that doesn't mean Minnesota should be turned off completely to him. It just means it must be more cautious, given that John Sullivan is a top-tier center.
Jones sat out the combine after having foot surgery that will keep him out for four months. Given his stellar play and no major developments at the position, he still projects as a first round pick and at worst a second round one.
He excelled at guard, center and tackle in college, which makes him that much more attractive. Versatility shouldn't be the reason Minnesota acquires a player in the first round, so Minnesota should pass at No. 23.
Dallas Thomas, Tennessee: Another versatile offensive lineman on this list. He played left tackle until his senior season, when he moved to left guard. He has the size to play either position (6'5" and 300 pounds).
Thomas tore his right labrum at the Senior Bowl last month and wasn't testing out at the combine.
Again, his versatility is attractive but only to a point. He only played left guard during his senior season after moving from the blindside.
Concerns about his lower body strength and footing push him into the second round, with scouts raving about his ability to pull, burst off the line and speed.
He's an intriguing possibility in the second round.
John Jenkins, Georgia: The man who could be the second coming of Pat Williams demonstrated adequate upper body strength at the combine by benching 225 pounds 30 times (tied for fifth best among defensive linemen).
Jenkins measured out at 6'4" and 346 (Williams reportedly weighed 324 pounds at 6'3" entering his final season in 2010 after losing 18 pounds).
Jenkins is known as a run-stuffer who can hold off two linemen.
He didn't participate in any other drills besides the bench press, which means concerns about his agility and conditioning remain.He's not projected to ever offer pass-rushing abilities.
He would be a solid first-round pick and would definitely be worth while should he slip to No. 55.
Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State: Unlike many on this list, Hankins didn't partake in the bench press but did run the 40 yard dash. Hankins finished in 5.31 seconds, which shouldn't tarnish his status as a first round, early second round pick. He's known as a run stuffer, which belittles the importance of a 40-yard dash.
He measured at 6'3" and 335 pounds. So he has the size to live up to his billing.
Jenkins and Hankins are neck and neck by most standards, which means Hankins would be a solid first-round pick too.
Sylvester Williams, North Carolina: While at the combine Williams reaffirmed the viewing of him: he does many things well but nothing great. He benched 225 pounds 27 times and ran 40 yards in 5.03 seconds while measuring at 6'3" and 320 pounds.
He's not necessarily a run stuffer nor is he a pass rusher. He does a little bit of both, which is why he reminds me of Kevin Williams in so many regards. He's not as highly regarded as Kevin was entering the league, but he's earning recognition as a first round pick, so he's doing something right.
Sylvester remains a solid first round option and an even better second round option, should he slide that far.
Jesse Williams, Alabama: Tying for fifth among defensive linemen in the bench press (30 reps at 225 pounds) combined with measuring at 6'3" and 323 pounds solidifies that he has the build and strength to be a run-stuffer. He is an intelligent run stuffer.
Like many on this list, he doesn't project to be much as a pass rusher and possesses limited athleticism that he masks with effort.
That shouldn't scare Minnesota away from him in Round 2, but should allow him to slide past No. 23.
Despite concerns surrounding his spinal stenosis condition, Jones projects as a high first round pick who could slide.
Jones is a pass-rushing outside linebacker who, at 6'2" and 245 pounds, could play in a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense.
It's unlikely that Minnesota will have an opportunity to select Jones, but it would be foolish to pass him up should he slide, barring new information about his health.
Khaseem Greene, Rutgers: And to think we were worried about the speed of Manti Te'o or Alec Ogletree ... Greene is an outside linebacker who ran 40 yards in 4.71 seconds while only benching 225 pounds 17 times at 6'1" and 230 pounds (CBS Sports projected a 4.64-second 40-yard dash).
The combination of small frame, slow 40 and limited bench presses doesn't bode well for Greene.
He was very productive on the field last season (140 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and six sacks), but has only played two seasons at linebacker.
Greene just doesn't blow me away. I wouldn't advise selecting him in the first two rounds.
Jamie Collins, Southern Mississippi: Given his combination of size (6'3" and 250 pounds) and speed (4.64-second 40-yard dash), Collins could transition from 3-4 outside linebacker to 4-3 outside linebacker.
Among linebackers, Collins posted the best vertical jump (41.5 inches), broad jump (139 inches), 60-yard shuttle (11.5 seconds) and 3 cone drill (7.1 seconds).
That athleticism combined with collegiate production (92 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and 10 sacks last season) would make him an OK second round and a good third round pick. The competition Southern Miss faced wasn't top notch and Minnesota would have to be concerned about his transition to 4-3 outside linebacker.
CBS Sports projected him as a third-round pick before the combine.
Arthur Brown, Kansas State: The only event Brown participated in at the combine was the broad jump. He leaped 116 inches (9'8"). He measures out at outside linebacker (6'0" and 241 pounds).
He's known as a speedy linebacker who can cover sideline to sideline. Concerns about his abilities to take on and shed blockers are real. A shoulder injury kept him from doing much at the combine.
Depending on his shoulder, he would be a good second round pick.
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