Minnesota Vikings Day 3 2014 NFL Draft Primer
Saturday is the most unpredictable day of the draft because of the large amount of variance between teams' boards. It's also the part of the draft where the best teams in terms of player evaluation are able to find quality starters for the future. There are diamonds in the rough in every draft class, just waiting to be mined.
The Minnesota Vikings enter the third day of the draft with four draftees already in the books and enough picks to add four more. There's been an even split between offense and defense surprisingly, but that should change with their selections in the fourth to seventh rounds.
These finals rounds will be our last glance into the draft philosophy of Rick Spielman and his new coaching staff this time around. Let's take a look at what the Vikings have done and what they will be aiming to do with their late-round picks.
Day 2 Recap and Analysis
The Vikings had to sit out the second round, but they made a splash with their first pick in the third round. Selecting defensive end Scott Crichton is proof of Mike Zimmer's wishes to keep constant rotations with his defensive line with versatile players.
Crichton brings a physical, powerful defender to the defensive line. He plays with a nonstop motor and arrives at the quarterback in a bad mood. His mentality and determination will bring competition to a defensive line that hasn't had enough of it in recent years.
His versatility as a player who won't factor into the starting lineup is important. He made an impact from a variety of alignments for Oregon State and will be expected to do the same for Minnesota, especially on passing downs.
The Vikings went to the opposite end of the prospect spectrum with their other pick from the third round. They added Georgia Southern running back Jerick McKinnon. He also played quarterback a lot in a triple-option offense in college.
He's the opposite type of player from Crichton because he's raw and inexperienced, yet highly athletic. His full-time position change is the biggest topic. Rob Rang of CBSSports.com has promising comments on McKinnon as it relates to his transition.
Numerous players have successfully changed positions in the NFL and McKinnon appears to possess the frame, toughness and work ethic to handle the move. He is a fluid, well-built athlete who - like his former teammate [J.J. Wilcox] - could earn a surprisingly high grade on draft weekend due to his upside.
McKinnon's upside is the draw. He will be a third-down back for Norv Turner's offense if all goes well. Getting him the ball in space will be the goal, where his uncommon athletic ability can be best put to use. The learning curve is big for McKinnon, and the transition may take time. Patience is important here.
Updated Needs for the Vikings
The primary goal for picks in Rounds 4-7 is to supplement the roster with depth. Bringing in quality players will increase competition for starting spots and strengthen the bottom of the roster as a whole. These are the positions where the Vikings may look to deepen their talent pool and create competition.
Minnesota not selecting a cornerback on Day 2 was a surprise. Now the Vikings may need to add one or two cornerbacks on the final day in order to increase the number of viable candidates for playing time at the position. There's enough talent on the board to get solid players at this position too.
The need for safety help follows the need for cornerback help. No Day 3 pick will come in and win the starting job, but continuing to add talent in the secondary is a priority for every team in the league. The Vikings are certainly no different.
The weak-side linebacker starting spot could actually be available to be won by a Day 3 pick if the right guy is brought in. Anthony Barr and Chad Greenway figure to play strong-side and middle, respectively.
As soon as Charlie Johnson is shown the door, there will be an open competition for the left guard spot. That probably won't happen until 2015, but it's important to bring guys into the fold early.
A late-round receiver will have a path toward making the final Vikings roster as the fifth receiver. Increasing competition for that spot can only help. Special teams value will be a factor here.
Top Day 3 Targets
Once prospects begin to fall down the draft board, it's tough to predict where they might end up. This list of prospects could be in play for Minnesota everywhere from the fifth to the seventh round.
Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
Desir still being available on the third day is a surprise. If he keeps slipping, the Vikings could value his size and athleticism enough to move up for him.
Dakota Dozier, OG, Furman
Dozier is a nimble, strong blocker who will shift inside to guard in the NFL. He's the type of Day 3 lineman teams love to draft and develop.
Antone Exum, CB, Virginia Tech
After a phenomenal junior season, Exum was plagued by injuries in 2013, and his play suffered. He could project as a cornerback or strong safety, but health is the concern.
Telvin Smith, OLB, Florida State
A character check is the key for teams with Telvin Smith because he failed his combine drug test. If able to be trusted off the field, he offers big rewards on it as a weak-side linebacker.
Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor
When the ball is in front of Ahmad Dixon, he flies to it like a heat-seeking missile. He's raw with his footwork and is more of a project than anything.
Kevin Pierre-Louis, OLB, Boston College
If a weak-side linebacker with coverage value is pursued, the athletic dynamo that is Kevin Pierre-Louis should be heavily sought after.
Jonathan Dowling, S, Western Kentucky
Dowling is a long, lean safety who's out to find the big hit. If he could harness his athletic ability to the point of dependability, he can be a solid NFL player.
Jon Halapio, OG, Florida
The Florida guard is another player who labored through injuries, almost to a fault. When fully healthy, teams won't find a meaner run-blocker on Day 3.
Ryan Grant, WR, Tulane
Grant is a natural receiver who is a skilled pass-catcher and a sharp route-runner. His lack of optimal size and tremendous athleticism will have him dropping.
Demetri Goodson, CB, Baylor
After a transition from the hardwood to the gridiron, Demetri Goodson has shown flashes to believe that he can make it as an NFL cornerback with athletic upside.
Kain Colter, WR, Northwestern
Colter is a fine athlete who has shown natural pass-catching traits. As he played quarterback primarily for the Wildcats, he just hasn't shown it enough.
What Are the Experts Saying?
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: Lamin Barrow, MLB, LSU
With the selection of Anthony Barr, Minnesota may be looking for a more athletic linebacker with coverage value. Lamin Barrow isn't as valuable as he would have been before the draft started.
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: Chris Davis, CB, Auburn
Chris Davis is an interesting fit as one of the most physical cornerbacks in this draft, often to a fault. He's also one of the most electric return men. Minnesota is set at those positions, though.
Peter Schrager, Fox Sports: Justin Ellis, DT, Louisiana Tech
The Vikings go two deep at nose tackle with Linval Joseph and Fred Evans. Adding another nose tackle would be quite a surprise.
Peter Schrager, Fox Sports: Shaq Evans, WR, UCLA
Minnesota could do much worse than draft Shaq Evans on the third day. He has the speed to win over the top, which is where he and Brett Hundley plundered secondaries in 2013. Evans would have a great shot to make the team if the Vikings drafted him.
4 Predictions for Day 3
The Vikings trade Christian Ponder
GM Rick Spielman recently stated that Ponder would not be traded, but any admittance would only decrease any possible compensation. For teams that missed out on late-round quarterback prospects, Christian Ponder could be worth trading away a sixth- or seventh-round pick for.
The Vikings obviously have their quarterback situation under wraps and have no need for Christian Ponder. If they could get a seventh-round pick for him, they would probably take it.
Minnesota drafts a cornerback with their first pick of the day
Every time the Vikings phoned in a pick on Friday night, I expected it to be a cornerback. It never was. There's still enough talent on the board at the position for the Vikings to target one in the fifth round and get more than an incompetent camp body.
The Vikings take a wide receiver before the seventh round
Norv Turner will likely put more receivers on the field than former offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave did. That brings depth into focus. Look for them to target a receiver with the speed to win over the top, especially if they anticipate this to be Jerome Simpson's last season in town.
An offensive guard does not get drafted by Minnesota
The thought here is that Minnesota drafted Jeff Baca at the guard position a year ago and has him waiting in the wings. Even if Charlie Johnson is to lose his starting job, it's tough to see a Day 3 guard prospect as the immediate answer anyway.
Updated Vikings Mock Draft
Round 5, Pick No. 145: Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty
Aikens is a big, physical and adequately athletic cornerback who fits the profile of what Zimmer may look for. Aikens certainly has the talent to make the team and the upside to become a starter down the road.
Round 5, Pick No. 148: Marquis Flowers, OLB, Arizona
Getting an athletic talent at linebacker should be a priority for Minnesota. Flowers makes sense as an athletic linebacker who moves like a safety in pass coverage but lacks the physicality of a prototypical linebacker.
Round 6, Pick No. 184: Kain Colter, WR, Northwestern
With enough patience to let him grow, Kain Colter could become a very steady slot receiver in the NFL. He has the short-area quickness, spatial awareness and soft hands to thrive in the slot.
Round 7, Pick No. 223: Avery Patterson, S, Oregon
Patterson is a fundamentally sound tackler from his safety position and should have special teams value as a pro. That's very important in a seventh-round pick.