2011 NFL Mock Draft: Minnesota Vikings 7 Round Possibilities
Ah, April! We could spend a considerable amount of time waxing poetic over flowers in bloom, the 2011 MLB season and even the fact that my birthday is this month—April 20th, in case anyone wants to send me presents…let me know—but April is better suited for mock draft talk, hands down.
And what better way to wash away the possibility of no football in 2011/12 than with more mock draft talk and speculation.
Earlier this year I did a Vikings mock draft. And what I did was, I tried to target the more obvious needs in a speculative manner, inevitably leading me to my predictions.
Then I got to thinking.
What if the Vikings do not go down the draft road I predicted? After all, the NFL draft is very unpredictable, isn’t it?
Therefore, for your enjoyment, I decided to do a Vikings Mock Draft II: Another Round of Possibilities.
Take a walk with me once more, and let us speculate what other players, roads and strategies the Vikings could explore this April and be sure to leave your thoughts down below.
RND 1: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
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Let’s assume the Vikings take a very different path and target a cover man with their first selection. If that were the case, I foresee Minnesota going after Nebraska’s Prince Amukamara.
The thought process isn’t entirely out of the question. The Vikings could wait until the third round for a QB—maybe even the fourth the way those guys are dropping—and tackle another key area like CB.
It’s been a long time since the Vikings have had a shutdown corner, and Amukamara fits not only that description, but also the Vikings' aggressive scheme that will feature press-coverage; a cover scheme Amukamara excelled in.
If they go down this road, and it works out for them, a solid one-two punch of corners and safeties may be enough to offset a shaky QB situation that is seemingly inevitable for the Vikings this year.
Basically, the idea would be to win with defense; a theory practiced by Minnesota before with Dennis Greene and Mike Tice.
RND 2: Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa
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OK, so we still find the Vikings fishing for a defensive end with their second pick.
But in my first analysis, I went with Cameron Jordan (Cal). Now, I’d love to see Jordan follow in his dad’s footsteps and get a chance to play in Minny, but the fact remains that he will probably go in the first round shortly after Minnesota with New England likely being the lucky suitor.
So what if the Vikings fell into a DE that was known for his burst of speed, his ability to deliver that crucial second blow to the defender after the initial snap and terrorize quarterbacks in the same fashion as Jared Allen?
Meet Iowa’s Christian Ballard.
Ballard really fits the mold of the Vikings’ aggressive pass-rush scheme, and if available, would be a fantastic compliment to Jared Allen on the other side if Brian Robison were to falter.
At this point in the draft, with this type of strategy, the Vikings not only square up two very pressing needs, but they also give themselves a prime setup for their third selection….
RND 4: Andy Dalton, QB, TCU
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Andy Dalton of TCU!!!
Every year, I get excited over a few players that really grab my attention as I tenaciously go through all the prospects.
Last year I was really high on Louis Delmas; a lot of people told me he wasn’t going to do anything as a pro; and here we are.
This year it’s Dalton, but he comes with a slight problem—he may not be available by the time the Vikings get to their third pick.
That aside, if he is, the guy makes perfect sense.
- Dalton has the experience of playing for a team that went to four bowls in his time; he was the MVP in three of them.
- He has exceptional short to intermediate throwing skills, as well as a nice plain of vision and fade touch that could afford him an accurate deep-ball attack when the time is right.
- Hard working, cool pocket passer that reminds me of Matt Ryan.
These are the immediate skills the Vikings will need with a premier slot receiver in Percy Harvin, an improved pass-catching bruiser back in Adrian Peterson and an offense that could lean more towards the short pass game in 2011/12.
Again, this all hinges on whether or not he will be available. But hey, this is a mock draft, a guy can dream can’t he?
RND 5: (first pick) J.T. Thomas, OLB, West Virginia
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I’ll stand by my prediction of Thomas’ new digs having a Minnesota zip code.
Playing for West Virginia’s vaunted defense is an aspect that will be hard for the Vikings to pass up if Thomas is available.
Thomas comes with a ton of versatility considering he can play both the strong side backer position as well as the weak side.
The weak side linebacker isn’t as much of a pressing issue as the strong side (or outside), and with his speed and ability to cover defensive ground laterally, Thomas could be a perfect fit for a Vikings team who had significant trouble clamping down threats off the tackles and tight ends.
He’ll have to work on his zone coverage—as I mentioned before—but no player out of college is without an aspect that needs improvement.
RND 5: (second Pick) Tori Gurley, WR, South Carolina
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
I want to show you something, but first let’s talk about what could happen—strategically—for Minnesota this year.
Whether they stick with Joe Webb, or go after a QB in the draft, the Vikings will not be hucking it downfield often with Brett Favre no longer in the picture. This means a more methodical run first, short pass attack that is designed to move the chains and eat the clock.
With that said, a nice possession receiver would be a great addition through the draft for a Vikings team that is pretty thin at WR already.
But what if the potential receiver was a total package?
And here is what I wanted to show you:
Do you think you are a possession receiver or a total package type guy?
"I think I'm a total package guy. A lot of people want to label me a possession receiver. There is nothing wrong with that, but I am here to prove I am a football player and I can expand the field." - Tori Gurley, NFL Combine Transcript
This guy is a player who can force defenses to pay attention to him because of his size (6’4” 230 pounds) and his ability to make plays across the middle and deep.
South Carolina is stocked with playmaking WRs that are viewed as players who can easily fit right into a pro role, and Gurley is a guy who could be available in the middle rounds making his selection an excellent choice.
RND 6: Zach Hurd, OG, Conneticut
At this point, the Vikings can take a breather and start focusing on filling in the blanks, which will inevitably begin with the OG position.
Hurd is a guy who can get under the opposition's pads and remove him from play, create lanes up the middle and through the tackle and disrupt a pass rusher enough to buy his QB enough time to make his reads before deciding on who to dump to.
All areas of concern when playing OG for Minnesota.
Hurd is a bit unfurnished on dealing with the angles that come with the territory of playing OG, but with enough time, that can be remedied.
RND 7: Lee Smith, TE, Marshall
Marshall is a strange case in the sense that he isn’t your prototypical TE, since many feel his soft hands will prevent him from going in the early or even mid rounds.
But in reality, Smith is a well rounded TE who could fit another role for Minnesota.
Smith is what’s known as a pass-and-block TE. He can catch the ball with some regularity, but he can also block rather well from different areas on the field in an effort to afford the RB an extra blocker or the QB a clearer lane of passing.
Again, all commodities the Vikings will need.
If Smith is still around at the tail end of the draft, he would make for an intriguing grab especially since pass-catching skills can always be improved upon, but a solid blocking TE is hard to come by.