2011 NFL Draft: Ranking the Top 40 Prospects for the Minnesota Vikings on Day 3

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2011 NFL Draft: Ranking the Top 40 Prospects for the Minnesota Vikings on Day 3
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Tyrod Taylor, Viginia Tech

The talent that abounds throughout an entire draft is incredible.

Seventh round selection Peyton Hillis had a great year a season ago. An un-drafted free agent named Brent Grimes of the Falcons made the pro bowl. And superstar receiver Brandon Marshall was a seventh round pick for the Broncos once upon a time.

Anyone who tells you that cannon fodder is all that the later rounds produce doesn’t know football. Vikings legend John Randall was un-drafted. The great Minnesota linebacker Ed McDaniel was a fifth round selection.

The dudes abide if you know where to look.

The things that separate first through third round players from mid to late round players are size, school level (competition) and injury.

Over the next few slides I will show you players who are facing these obstacles but could prove to be amazing stars in the NFL once they are given a chance.

What leads a player to have more success than he might have had can be attributed to what system he gets in. Let’s discuss the Vikings offensive and defensive systems quickly to give you an understanding of how I chose these players out of all the others.

The Offense:

New offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave likes to run a variation of the old west coast offense. His quarterback needs to be accurate, his receivers fast and his tight ends tall.

You will notice I don’t include popular tight end DJ Williams. Why? He doesn’t fit what Musgrave will be looking for due to his short height. There are a handful of tall receivers listed but that isn’t a must in this offense, a little man can have just as much success.

The Defense:

The Vikings run a Tampa Two zone defense under coordinator Fred Pagac.

In this defense less emphasis is placed on man to man coverage (shutdown corners). The team relies heavily on a defensive front four that applies pressure. The defensive backs hold down a zone and need to be quick, they are not always required to face away from the opposing QB unless the pressure from the front four fails.

The linebackers are responsible for a zone in coverage and for the “gaps”, the spaces between linemen that running backs try to go through. Linebackers in this system are required to tackle well and hit gaps quickly before the running back gets through and into open space, so size on linebackers isn’t a must either, though a fast big man is always preferred.

Now the Vikings will need a receiver regardless of what happens with Sidney Rice and Bernard Berrian. Both players are prone to injury and could be gone by next season.

Linebacker is an area where Ben Leber’s slowness hurt the team against the running game a season ago, as did the slow and ineffective Madieu Williams at safety. Finding a strong tackler with good coverage skills and speed will be high on the priority list.

And finding the accurate quarterback will be very necessary.

These are just a few of the particulars. Overall the Vikings can be expected to go after every position except running back.

So to give all of you an idea of who the team may be targeting, and some information if they pick one of these guys, I spent the last week preparing this list.

Offensive linemen have no statistics and therefore I can’t really help you out. Overviews basically say the same thing about every guy, so there wasn't much point in listing them.

Anyway, without further ado! The top 40 prospects to know about, five from each position, so you are better informed about late round draft picks.

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