Sharrif Floyd, the Vikings first selection in the draft, should shake up the depth chart at DT.
The Minnesota Vikings have been very successful in the draft over the last couple of years, and this latest crop of rookies should be just as beneficial to the team.
The Vikings have 18 of the last 20 players they drafted still with the team (including tackle DeMarcus Love and wide receiver Greg Childs who were listed on injured reserve last season). Six of those players—three from each draft class—are starters, and another six have started, or are making significant contributions.
Of the nine new rookies added to the roster from this draft, at least three—and as many as five—could wind up on the field an awful lot for the Vikings in 2013.
Currently, the Vikings roster lists 64 players. That does not include the nine players just drafted. After signing rookie free agents and players from other sources, the roster will grow to as many as 90 players.
Here's a very early look at the Vikings' two-deep depth chart, based on the players currently listed on the roster.
The Vikings addressed one of their biggest needs with the selection of Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round.
Heading into the draft, the Vikings offense desperately needed help at wide receiver and depth along the offensive line—they addressed both very well.
Rick Spielman dealt his way back into the first round for the second consecutive year and drafted another potential starter.
Last year it was safety Harrison Smith from Notre Dame, this year it's wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson from Tennessee.
Patterson finished his only season at Tennessee with 46 receptions, for 778 yards and five touchdowns—a distant second to teammate Justin Hunter (73 catches for 1,083 yards and nine touchdowns).
But, when you include his 308 rushing yards, 671 kickoff return yards and 101 punt-return yards, that's 1,858 all-purpose yards. He also scored three rushing touchdowns and one each on a kickoff and a punt return. No doubt he will be a major contributor for the Vikings this season.
Offensive Depth Chart: The number indicates years in the NFL.
|QB||Christian Ponder||2||Matt Cassel||8|
|RB||Adrian Peterson||6||Toby Gerhart||3|
|FB||Jerome Felton||5||Rhett Ellison||1|
|TE||Kyle Rudolph||2||John Carlson||4|
|WR1||Greg Jennings||7||Jerome Simpson||5|
|WR2||Cordarrelle Patterson||R||Stephen Burton||2|
|LT||Matt Kalil||1||DeMarcus Love||1|
|LG||Charlie Johnson||7||Jeff Baca||R|
|C||John Sullivan||5||Joe Berger||7|
The Minnesota Vikings went heavy on defense with three of their first four selections addressing the that side of the ball. Their first two picks set the tone with the selections of defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd from Florida and cornerback Xavier Rhodes from Florida State.
Go ahead and pencil in Floyd as a starter next to Kevin Williams. The Vikings front four just became a whole lot more formidable.
Rhodes is the first cornerback taken in the first round by the Vikings since they selected Dwayne Washington with the 18th pick in 1994. In 12 seasons with four different teams, Washington only missed one game, starting 171 of 191 games he played.
The question is will either Gerald Hodges or Michael Mauti, linebacker teammates from Penn State, will be able to crack the starting lineup. They finished as the top two in tackles for the Nittany Lions last season.
Hodges has the advantage. He is the more athletic of the two, and Mauti is recovering from his third knee injury suffered since 2009. He tore his right ACL in 2009, and his left ACL in 2011 and again late last season.
|DE||Jared Allen||9||Everson Griffen||3|
|DT||Kevin Williams||10||Fred Evans||6|
|DT||Sharrif Floyd||R||Letroy Guion||5|
|DE||Brian Robison||6||Christian Ballard||2|
|SLB||Chad Greenway||6||Larry Dean||2|
|MLB||Gerald Hodges||R||Audie Cole||1|
|WLB||Erin Henderson||4||Marvin Mitchell||6|
|CB1||Chris Cook||3||Xavier Rhodes||R|
|CB2||Josh Robinson||1||Brandon Burton||2|
|CB3||A.J. Jefferson||3||Marcus Sherels||2|
|FS||Harrison Smith||1||Robert Blanton||1|
|SS||Jamarca Sanford||4||Mistral Raymond||2|
Rhodes will open the season as a backup, but with Chris Cook's struggles to play an entire season, he will get plenty of playing time.
Jeff Locke was the the kickoff specialist for UCLA as well as its punter.
Most times no one cares too much about these positions, except when they mess up. Of the bunch, kickers tend to get the most credit and the most blame, depending on the outcome.
For the second consecutive year Rick Spielman drafted a specialist well ahead of where most people projected. Last year he selected kicker Blair Walsh from Georgia with a sixth-round pick. Walsh proved to be brilliant, setting the NFL record for most 50-yard field goals in a season. He converted all 10 attempts and finished with 141 points—the second-highest scoring total in franchise history.
This year Spielman selected UCLA punter Jeff Locke in the fifth round.
In both cases, the selections were for positions that did not appear to require an upgrade.
Ryan Longwell, while he had struggled some, was still a very effective kicker. The only downside was the strength of his kickoffs and the inability to kick the ball in the end zone. He played six seasons in Minnesota and finished third all time in franchise career scoring with 633 points.
Chris Kluwe has been a model of consistency. His average per punt has been between 42.3 and 47.6 yards, and in 623 punts has had only one punt blocked. Whether the team is frustrated with Kluwe's political activism, or they're concerned about his recovery from minor knee surgery on his non-kicking leg, they now have three punters on the roster.
Kluwe, who has 167,579 followers on Twitter, has been vocal about the gay-marriage-bill debate in Minnesota. When he was fined by the NFL for displaying support for Ray Guy's induction into the Hall of Fame on his uniform, it caught the ire of special teams coach Mike Priefer.
This could be the most interesting battle in all of training camp, as both Kluwe and Locke are from UCLA.
Punter: Jeff Locke—the Vikings invested too much by selecting him in the fifth round.
Kicker: Blair Walsh
Long Snapper: Cullen Loeffler
Holder: Jeff Locke
Punt Returner: Marcus Sherels
Kick Returner: Cordarrelle Patterson