The later rounds of the NFL Draft have been a wonderful mine of hidden gems over the past 10 years.
Players such as Tom Brady, Terrell Davis, Harold Jackson, Shannon Sharp and Richard Dent were all selected in the sixth round or later, only to later go on and leave their indelible mark on the NFL.
But what’s even more intriguing is the fact that late rounders are often considered “cellar dwellers” or players not fit to win a roster spot in the NFL—let alone a starting job.
It’s this indisputable fact that reminds every fan, writer and expert that there really isn’t any way to truly know what a player—regardless of draft rank—will really do once he has that golden opportunity to be a pro.
The Minnesota Vikings will inevitably be on the lookout for such a diamond in the rough.
With a bevy of concerns that need to be addressed, the Vikings will need every one of their draft picks to count.
From the very first selection, to the last, the Vikings will be looking to score themselves seven high quality players that can be integrated into their system early. Hopefully these players can contribute immediately in an effort to become legendary in the future.
Let’s take a look at five budding possibilities—stemming from the fourth round to the seventh—the Vikings could kick the tires on and possibly why.
The Vikings are basically running on faith that Visanthe Shiancoe will keep playing at a high tone, and be back after the 2011-12 season despite no guarantees.
But the fact remains that the Vikings really do need a quality tight end who brings some youth to the roster.
Aside from Shiancoe, Kleinsasser is really the only other option they have, and he’s nothing more than an aging blocking end.
Kendricks registered a 4.5 40-yard dash and a 38” vertical, and was good for 663 yards and 5 TDs as a Badger.
But what really makes Kendricks intriguing is his apparent skill set that seemingly are fluid with the Vikings system:
- Good size and speed and great ability to exploit defenses out of bootlegs and short crossing patterns.
- Has exceptional hands on block-and-release patterns, as well as deep ball patterns, which could add the extra downfield threat the Vikings will need.
- Can effectively contribute as a quality blocker from the H-back position, as well as the motion tight end slot. Gets underneath defenders and paralyzes them at the point of attack clearing the way for the runner.
In addition to the aforementioned, Kendricks has been applauded for his work ethic and natural leadership ability.
Kendricks did break his left fibula only to return for the Badgers’ 2009 bowl game. But that broken fibula may cause some teams to look away, making him a strong possibility as a fourth-round selection.
One man's trash is another man's treasure.
Pronounced Shock-ey Brown, this kid has just about every required tool an NFL scout looks for in a viable, workable draft pick.
Brown has an abundance of experience in man and press coverage, and locks up receivers incredibly well in both schemes.
Brown is scouted as a player who can get his hips turned around in one-on-one coverage within the blink of an eye, and is even seen as an immediate contributor on special teams that any team could plug right in.
Brown does come with his fair share of discrepancies, though.
An ankle injury in his sophomore year and a broken forearm injury in his senior year will inevitably be considered by many teams, causing his draft stock to plummet.
In addition to the injuries, Brown is considered an “upright corner” (a corner who runs upright when back peddling) and is viewed as a guy who could be overshadowed by bigger receivers at 5’11”.
But despite these issues, the final chip to be considered is the fact that Brown could also be converted to one of the safety positions for the Vikings, considering his coverage experience.
So when you weigh the pros against the cons, the pros just seem to win out.
Jah Reid (6'7", 321) has already shown what he is truly made of from the inside out, when—despite completely participating at the combine—he insisted on doing all of the drills over again.
Now if that isn’t impressive, I don’t know what is.
At some point, the Vikings are going to have to rethink their position on Bryant McKinney and his up and down weight issues, inconsistent play and scrupulous off-field antics in an effort to send the guy a message—not to mention a little insurance wouldn't hurt, either.
Reid could be that guy.
Reid ran a 5.32 and 5.29 in the 40, had a 29" vertical jump, a 9'3" broad jump, a 4.59 short shuttle and a 7.59 3-cone. He also bench pressed 23 reps of 225 pounds.
Skill wise, Reid is a prototypical tackle that fits Minnesota’s needed mold for what seems like an unsure QB situation:
- Reid has extraordinary physical skills, primarily in his abundant reach, which allows him to flow apposing attackers away from the point of attack.
- Can control defensive lineman with his strength, extraordinary size, and line presence.
- A methodical member of the trenches who uses his head to control the game, rather than let the game control him.
The knock on Reid is the all-too-familiar “lack of a mean streak” which to me, is a crappy knock which only translates into “we really can’t find anything wrong with this guy”.
If the mean streak is that important, I’m sure a couple of pro-practices and scrimmages will turn things around for him real quick.
And if that really is his only issue, he would be a steal at this point in the draft.
I am getting higher on this guy than a Twinkee-eating stoner in Amsterdam.
I've already wrote about this guy once, and I want to reiterate a portion of what I wrote for all of you who didn’t catch my last piece:
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
At 6’4”, 230 pounds, Gurley is a player who comes with the type of size a new quarterback—like Joe Webb—could really use for those crucial crossing routes, and over the middle passes that allows the ball carrier to utilize the YAC opportunities.
Gurley has been knocked for his apparent lack of speed and mental awareness on the field—two things that can be worked on at the pro level, so it isn’t as if this kid comes with a ton of baggage.
Plus, as I stated before, South Carolina receivers are widely viewed as players who could easily be put right into action.
The Vikings will have to address the wide receiver situation regardless if Sidney Rice returns or not, since Bernard Berrian is useless and unlikely to return for the $3.5 million that will be on the table.
The outside linebacker position is a huge concern for the Vikings, but the weak side is also a concern with the possibility of Ben Leber not returning.
With that said, the Vikings could be on the hunt for a suitable linebacker who can play both areas of the backer position, while also contributing on special teams.
Introducing Doug Hogue.
This is a player who has already worked out for Philadelphia and Chicago, which are teams that love line backers, so there is something there to notice.
But he also has the type of skills to potentially be great someday, and his weaknesses could actually work in his favor at the weak side.
- Great side-to-side backer who works best in this situation—perfect for a weak side backer.
- Has the make up of a strong safety which is a bonus aspect, and is a highly talented coverman.
- Knows how to ‘stay home” which bodes well for a weak side backer—a trait that is hard to come by, even in already established pros.
- Can recover quickly if beaten off the line, regularly used as a blitzing back, and is great on lateral defense.
- Boasted as a tackling machine that is most effective when he delivers the first blow.
So what’s this kid’s apparent weakness?
Not strong enough to fend off stiff arms, and is said to be easily mowed over, which to me, is fine if that’s the limit to his hindrances.
Learning how to defend and counter defend against a stiff arm, and learning the proper leverage at the point of attack, are two aspects that are naturally worked on at the pro level anyway.
And if that’s the only real issue with this kid, I can’t help but wonder if he could wind up being the next Seth Joyner of the league.
I hope you guys enjoyed, and as always, let me know who you think the Vikings should target and why in the comment section.
And as a bonus for all of the 'Norris' division fans, come check out my early Green Bay Packers Draft Mock Draft Possibilities.