The 2013 NFL draft is over, but there are still players plenty of good players available.
The Minnesota Vikings went into the 2013 NFL draft with 11 picks, and after some maneuvering by general manager Rick Spielman, they ended with nine new draftees.
In the end, the Vikings got three potential starters in the first round with defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. They also addressed needs at linebacker by drafting Penn State teammates Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti.
With the big-name players drafted, the job for teams is to now scour those remaining and quickly sign undrafted rookies that have the potential to help the team in the future after some development.
The Vikings' roster currently has nine players who went undrafted, including starting outside linebacker Erin Henderson.
The Vikings will be looking for the proverbial diamond in the rough, or more appropriately, a Hall of Famer among the unnoticed. Perhaps there is another John Randle out there who the Vikings signed as a rookie free agent in 1990. Following a 14-year career, including 11 with the Vikings, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
The Vikings signed a total of 10 undrafted rookies last year following the NFL draft. Only one of them stuck with the team—defensive tackle Chase Baker, who spent the year on the practice squad.
Here is a look at five potential undrafted rookies the Vikings should try to sign.
Even though the Vikings drafted two linebackers, teammates Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti from Penn State, they need to add as many options as possible.
Jonathan Stewart from Texas A&M finished second in tackles for the Aggies with 81 in his senior season behind only Demaontre Moore, who was drafted by the Giants in the third round.
As a junior, Stewart led Texas A&M with 98 tackles. He finished with a total of 215 tackles in four seasons, but only 10 of them were for a loss. NFL.com sees this as one of his weaknesses:
Fails to consistently fit, press, and disengage to make tackles. Biggest downfall is a hesitant nature. Refuses to meet the ball carrier at the line of scrimmage even in a clear running lane. Prefers to wait and dive at ball carrier’s ankles three yards downfield. Does attempt to wrap up the opposition’s lower half, but diving is caused by a lack of anticipation, especially against quick twitch runners. Nothing sudden about his play other than straight-line blitzing.
At 6'4' and 242 pounds, Stewart has the size to play at the next level.
Last year, the Vikings must have thought had a need at defensive tackle because they signed three rookie free agents following the draft.
This year, they definitely have a need at linebacker and should bring in a few more bodies. In a couple of my mock drafts, I had the Vikings selecting Iowa State linebacker Jake Knott.
From my mock draft on April 9:
If Jake Knott from Iowa State falls to the seventh round, it would be a great selection for the Vikings. Knott finished his senior season with 79 tackles and was second for the Cyclones with six tackles for a loss.
Knott finished with 347 tackles with 18 for a loss and eight interceptions.
The bottom line from NFL.com:
Knott’s been a team leader and productive player alongside fellow linebacker A.J. Klein. Knott is athletic enough to play the Sam position or inside in a 3-4 scheme, as well as a special teams contributor at the next level. If his shoulder checks out medically, he should be a mid-round selection.
Conner Vernon led Duke with 85 receptions for 1,074 yards and eight touchdowns in 2012. Over his four seasons with the Blue Devils, he averaged 70.8 receptions for 937 yards.
Walter Football projected Vernon to be drafted in the fifth round, and NFL Draft Scout picked the sixth. His profile on NFL.com states that he has the size to play on the outside and enough quickness to play in the slot and has good numbers for Yards After Catch.
While he may not be a starter, he wouldn't take much to be more effective than most of the receivers the Vikings had on the roster at the end of last season.
The Vikings need to find future starters at defensive end. Jared Allen, Brian Robison and Everson Griffen are all entering the last year of their current contracts and the odds of the Vikings being able to re-sign all three are very slim.
Instead of waiting to next year's draft, the Vikings need to start identifying potential replacements for one to two of these guys.
Defensive end Glenn Foster from Illinois is included on GiI Brandt's list of the top undrafted rookies on NFL.com. Foster finished his three-year career at Illinois with 73 tackles, including 11 for a loss and four sacks.
Listed at 6'4" and 286 pounds, NFL Draft Scout projected Foster as a possible fourth or fifth-round selection.
Cameron Meredith finished his four years at Nebraska with 196 tackles (21.5 for a loss) and 13.5 sacks. Over his last two seasons, he averaged 55.5 tackles and five sacks.
At 6'4" and 260 pounds, he has the size and length to play in the NFL. He's a strong run-defender, but his pass-rushing ability needs to improve.
From his profile on NFL.com:
Good hustle-and-chase player willing to work down the line, to the sideline, and downfield to help teammates. Moves inside at times, stuffs linemen and ballcarriers coming through the hole, could move to five-technique with some additional weight.
It does point out that Meredith is late off the snap and does not have the initial quickness to be a great pass rusher. He is compared to Jason Hunter, who played the last two seasons with Denver.