5 Prospects Likely to Go Undrafted That the Minnesota Vikings Should Sign
With free agent tampering officially opening on March 9th, the buzz around hidden gems has never been hotter.
Both were undrafted free agents.
The Vikings could end up with someone like Jarrett Boykin or a key substitute like Dezman Moses.
While it is always difficult to figure out which overlooked college player will end up dazzling the Sunday crowd, there are sometimes good signs that will tell teams who to look for and why.
Not all of these players will get drafted, although anything can happen in the 7th round.
Ray Ray Armstrong, S Faulkner
Before the year started, Ray Ray Armstrong was shortlisted for the Chuck Bednarik award, crowning the nation's best college defensive player.
He finished his sophomore year with the third-most tackles on his team as a free safety and also tied the team lead for interceptions with three.
Unfortunately, Armstrong's senior season was prematurely aborted after discussing his interaction with a booster over Twitter—the third violation of NCAA rules in his short career.
Nothing lurid lies in Armstrong's past, at least as far as most people can tell.
He missed four games in 2011 as a result of lying to the NCAA about improper benefits from a booster. Additionally, another game because of a suspicious-looking (but ultimately innocent) dinner with a PR representative.
More than that, the impact safety missed out on playing at another level of college football. The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics denied him eligibility to play for Faulkner University.
Despite his lack of play, he could get up to speed and continue to make an impact at an NFL level. While he was rusty at the Texas vs. Nation practices, he still has top-tier speed, fantastic range and good instincts in coverage.
He's big at 6'4" and 215 pounds, making him a violent hitter, too.
Armstrong has a surprising ability to navigate traffic and avoid blockers, but will need to break down his tackles in order to clean them up—he can miss because he likes the big hit.
The safety needs better recovery speed—likely a result of short-area agility and fluidity more than straight-line velocity—but he can be an impact player.
He was touted as a potential first-round pick before the year started and he still has that talent.
Dan Buckner, WR Arizona
While Armstrong dropped because of his obvious rust and inactivity, Buckner will be dropping for much more serious reasons.
After being granted the ability to transfer to Arizona, he did well but also committed a number of penalties on the field for Arizona.
Buckner doesn't pop off the tape with game-breaking speed or highlight-reel catches, but he's a solid player who is much faster than people give him credit for.
His calling card is his strength, which he uses to win out blocks against defensive backs on run plays and to fight for the ball on tough catches.
Buckner doesn't possess the elusiveness to generate explosive yards after the catch, but his strength makes him hard to take down.
He can set up moves by varying his pace in routes, and can create space against cornerbacks. With the ability to read coverage, he can be a real asset, even if it's just for a possession role.
With that comes his ability to track the ball in the air and smoothly adjust—he has a good eye for the ball, and only opens his arm at the last second.
Buckner needs to do some work to be a bit more reliable catching the ball, but it's nothing that screams red flag—he can get his hands on the ball just fine but brings it in poorly.
A long strider that needs to clean up his footwork, it's no question that Buckner would require some work to be effective.
He has enough talent to get him on the field—even this season.
Quinton Dial, DT Alabama
Playing for one of the best defenses in the country should get you noticed, but Dial may have suffered just as much from having to play next to Jesse Williams and in front of Dee Milliner.
As a defensive end in a 3-4 set, Dial would have to switch to defensive tackle in the Vikings' 4-3, and it remains to be seen if he would be better off rotating in at nose tackle or backing up Kevin Williams at under tackle.
He has the ability to switch from a two-gap role to a one-gap system.
He has strength at the point of attack and pushes blockers around. Dial has a great frame for the position and can lock out his arms at length—which enables him to shed blocks with ease and make plays in the run game.
He might be a better fit staying at home at the 1-technique, as he's not an extraordinary pass-rusher, but he's hard to move around. Regardless, he's shown versatility over his career and can switch around to where ever he needs to be.
Dial is still very raw and needs to develop technique and instincts in order to make an impact.
There are some problems that he likely won't be able to correct, but most of them are easily fixable. He needs to lower his pad level and should develop a counter-move to diversify his pass rush.
Additionally, he should have received a suspension after a dirty play in the SEC Championship game, but one penalty doesn't make a career. He has enough potential that it shouldn't make teams too wary.
Any team that signs him may end up finding serious dividends years later.
Colby Cameron, QB Louisiana Tech
While scouts are raving about Louisiana Tech's premier receiver, Quinton Patton, the quarterback slinging him the ball has some serious talent as well.
Cameron showed people at the East-West Shrine Game that he has much more arm strength than people gave him credit for, zipping the ball in tight windows and making difficult throws.
What didn't surprise people was his lightning-quick release and mechanics that some college QBs couldn't manage with years of starts at top-tier programs.
More impressive, however, was that he played the first 10 games of 2012 without throwing a single interception, and ended the year with 31 touchdowns to five interceptions.
This included games against talented teams like Virginia, Illinois, New Mexico State and Texas A&M.
At 7.9 yards per attempt and a near 70 percent completion rate, he's certainly proven that he can play.
Cameron also has some wheels, as he can roll out to the right or the left when the pocket collapses and make the throw—even across his body into the middle of the field.
The LA Tech signal-caller only has 21 college starts to his name and there are still questions about his arm strength. But his quick decision-making, excellent touch and clutch ability under pressure, he's certainly worth a look in 2013.
Nigel Malone, CB Kansas State
Nigel Malone led the Big 12 with seven interceptions in 2011 and followed it up with a five interception season in 2012.
He's been an extremely productive CB that surprised even Kansas State fans, arriving at the program after an average season at City College of San Francisco.
The biggest worry surrounding Malone is his size.
At 5'9" and 178 pounds, NFL teams will worry about his physicality and range at the professional level. Although, Malone loves to play aggressively and hits hard despite any physical limitations.
Malone's natural instincts stand out before anything else.
He's an able zone CB that can track the QBs eyes while staying aware of the receiver in his assignment. With shockingly good instincts and a speedy reaction time, Malone closes on the ball fast, despite average straight-line speed.
He has the fluidity to make quick adjustments, both on the ground and in the air, and good hand placement jamming the receiver and knocking the ball out of the air.
He will likely stay limited to playing the slot in the NFL, and that's fine.
He's a good enough tackler that moving him closer to the line of scrimmage shouldn't be much of a problem—especially because he was a regular and effective blitzer in the more exotic packages that Kansas State ran.
His size and limitations in man coverage will likely keep him out of the draft, but make no mistake, Nigel Malone will make an NFL roster.