NFL Draft day is a thing of beauty. Many mock drafts are filled out, with many fans bragging about how they knew a certain trade or shocking pick was coming.
Fans spend every waking hour analyzing each pick and being upset about their team not taking the player with the most potential on the board.
The excitement is more for the players selected into the NFL. You've seen the documentaries on NFL Network, with the players on the phone with their future NFL head coach or general manager. The emotions that player is feeling most likely can not be put into words.
However, for some players, their time comes and then passes before their eyes, never hearing their name announced, never getting that phone call wherever they may be.
After the draft, these players and their agents go to work, phoning different teams to get a read on where they might fit in the best. Most of these players know it might be special teams that is their gate to an NFL roster and so be it they say, they'll take that road anyday.
This summer in Mankato, Minn. you will see these guys go to work with all of the other veterans and drafted players, trying to make a name for themselves, as well as making an impression to become a Minnesota Viking.
RB Ian Johnson, Boise State
When many people think of Ian Johnson, the first thing that comes to mind is the 2007 Fiesta Bowl in which he scored the game-winning touchdown off the statue of liberty play. Remember who was on the opposite sideline in that game? Oh yeah, it was Adrian Peterson.
It was a surprise to me that no one took a gamble on Johnson in the draft. He has the size to bruise defenders and could be a very valuable back near the goal line and on short yardage downs.
Don't be fooled though, Johnson also has some speed to break away when he gets in the open field. He ran a 4.46 forty time at the combine in February. Many knock him for being just a spotlight guy who performed well in a big game but isn't the best athlete. Regardless, Johnson has great instincts for a back and has a good shot at making the Vikings' 53-man roster this summer.
S Colt Anderson, Montana
This was another guy I thought a team would target on day two in the draft. Anderson is a safety with very good instincts for the ball and is a smart football player.
The knock on him is his size (194 lbs., 5'9) but has the passion to hit, even if it were to be on special teams. Overall, Anderson is a player who can create turnovers with his getting his hands on passes. Look for him to contribute on special teams in camp, making his way on to the roster through kick and punt coverage.
RB Khalil Bell, UCLA
Bell was the starting running back for 10 games at UCLA in 2008. Many scouts though teams should stay away from him because of his attitude. Bell got into fights with teammates early in his college career and was also suspended two games in 2006 for a violation of team rules.However, many have seen maturity as he has gotten older.
He is a powerful running back who makes defenders wrap up when tackling. He is quick at getting through he hole and can also come out of the backfield to catch passes fairly well. Bell will try to earn a spot on the roster in special teams as well as battling Johnson for a potential spot as a third down back.
C Jon Cooper, Oklahoma
Probably the best way to describe center Jon Cooper is perfectionist.
Cooper is a very smart player who is very good with his technique. He has great awareness of where defenders are and where they might blitz from. Besides his technique, Cooper has the experience of playing under a big spotlight at Oklahoma and pressure doesn't get to him.
However, Cooper doesn't have he best size for a center (6'1) and doesn't have a lot of bulk to his frame. Many find his wing span too short. Although he was a very good player in college, he might not have the abilities to make it in the pros. He will battle with John Sullivan and Ryan Cook to win a job on the Vikings' offensive line.
LB Robert Francois, Boston College
Francois is a physical linebacker with all of the measurables you look for in a linebacker. He is a player with a great frame and is good at squaring up with the running backs in the hole to make the tackle. He can move around well for his size (244 lbs., 6'2), making plays all over the field.
The negative with Francois is his ability to blitz the quarterback. He has trouble when a blocker chips him in his rush and when engaged, can not get away from the blocker. Francois also does not have the ideal experience, he only played 14 games in his college career. However, coaches at Boston College praised his ability on special teams (B.C.'s 2008 special teams player of the year) and that might be his shot at cracking the roster this summer.
QB Sean Glennon, Virginia Tech
The main reason the Vikings went after Glennon is most likely for his pro style of play.
He has great size (221 lbs., 6'4) and is also good at stepping up when under pressure in the pocket. He can get away from pass rushers to allow his receivers more time to get open down the field. Glennon also shows the maturity that coaches like in a player. He was demoted to backup in 2007 but took it well and kept hanging in there.
The negative to Glennon is his decision making. He often tries to force passes into tight areas and when he makes mistakes, he seems to dwell on them too long. Glennon is also not the most accurate passer when outside of the pocket and doesn't have the mobility to make defenders miss when he takes off with the ball. Overall, Sean Glennon is a long shot to make the roster but he'll take the opportunity to show what he has and use it to his advantage.
S Devon Hall, Utah State
Hall is very big for a safety (212 lbs., 6'2) and knows how to deliver a blow. He is a great tackler in the box and many think if he added some more bulk to his frame that he could step up to play linebacker.
He has problems in pass coverage when matched up with receivers. Hall often gambles and loses on the play-action passes and quarterbacks can usually make him bite by looking in a receivers direction. He definitely has some competition at the safety position but if Hall can show his superb tackling ability on special teams coverage, he might have a shot at making the roster.
DT Antoine Holmes, N.C. State
Holmes is a guy who not too many scouts know because he has only played one full year of big-time college football. He has a lot of upside from what some have seen and could develop into a good pass rusher.
In order to make an NFL roster, Holmes might want to add bulk to his frame and switch from tackle to end for a 4-3 base defense. With the inexperience, Minnesota is a good destination in terms of veterans he can learn from.
DT Tremaine Johnson, LSU
Johnson seems to be more of a speed rusher than a defensive end who will try to bull rush a tackle. He has good size (273 lbs., 6'2) but his strength might be an issue. He only put up 23 reps at 225 lbs. at his pro day.
If Johnson wants to make an impact, he'll have to show coaches in training camp that he can get to the quarterback with his speed (5.06 forty at pro day). Otherwise he will want to put some bulk and add to his strength to complement his speed before the summer.
G Andy Kemp, Wisconsin
Andy Kemp is a guard who is very physical in the trenches and when engaged with a defender, doesn't let go. He is a hard worker and is not injury-prone. His best play comes when blocking for the run, he has great awareness for picking up blockers in the second line of defense.
However, with all of his aggressiveness, he is not much of an athlete and isn't the most nimble on his feet. Kemp can get beat in space by himself and needs to learn how to move his feet to improve in that area. He doesn't have the most talent and is limited in upside but with technique work he could certainly surprise some coaches.
T Bobby Lepori, Fresno State
Lepori might be the opposite of Andy Kemp, which is why he plays tackle instead of inside at guard. He has great technique and does a good job at blocking at an angle so running backs can get through the hole.
At tackle, he lacks the necessary footwork and struggles with run blocking because of it. When pass blocking, Lepori has trouble staying firm and gets knocked back on his heals. However, with the right guard spot for the Vikings the weakest of the unit, look for Lepori to try to make a pitch with a little technique work.
WR Nick Moore, Toledo
Moore doesn't have the best speed (4.60 forty time) for a receiver but has a lot of upside. He has the bloodlines for the National Football League, his brother is Saints wide receiver Lance Moore.
He also has great height at 6'4 and uses to that to beat defensive backs in jump ball situations. Besides Sidney Rice, the Vikings don't have many receivers that are good in red zone situations, and if Moore can show a knack for catching the fade, he could have a shot at making the 53-man roster.
WR Vinny Perretta, Boise State
Perretta might be considered a poor man's Percy Harvin with his experience in the backfield as well as catching the football. He is not a go-to receiver that always makes the big play but is quick and is a perfect fit for a west coast offense that the Vikings run.
If the Vikings coaching staff think he is a valuable option and a weapon at receiver, Perretta has a chance to win the last wide receiver spot on the roster. However, he will have to have a great training camp and impress wide receivers coach George Stewart with his athletic ability for him to be considered. Look for Perretta to get his opportunity to return kicks in the preseason, that might be his best bet to earn a roster spot.
TE Nick Walker, Alabama
Walker is a better blocker than pass-catcher and has the size (253 lbs., 6'4) to compete with defenders in the NFL. If the coaches don't think his hands are useful, Walker might want to think about the switch to an offensive linemen with his size and blocking ability.
Although he came on as a threat through the air last season, he does not have very good speed (4.98 forty at pro day). Walker does not have much upside and is not a player who will amaze you with athletic ability. In order for Walker to make the roster, he'll have to excel with his blocking, even moving to the offensive line if he must.
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