The 70s temperatures, bright sun, and immense amounts of yard work pulled at me throughout the Draft this year. The winter, to quote Phil Connors, was "cold, grey, and would last the rest of our lives". Thankfully, the first two days of the draft were in the evening, as I prepared myself for three days of NFL pleasure.
But then Minnesota went and ruined it all.
First, they gave me too much fun by drafting three times in the first round, an event duplicated only once: 1967. You remember that year? Minnesota was coming off a 4-9-1 season, and decided that Fran Tarkenton was worth more traded then kept. Over the next few drafts Minnesota compiled a group of players that led the Vikings to four Super Bowls in eight years. Included in those obtained draft picks were Ron Yary and Ed White, two of the best OL in Minnesota history.
That 1967 three first round picks listed as: RB Clinton Jones (2nd overall), WR Gene Washington (8), and DT Alan Page (15). Jones would lead the team in rushing in 1971, total 2,000 yards in six seasons, and was gone after 1972. Washington was our top receiver in yards from 1967 until 1970. He too stayed until 1972. Page, as most know, went on to a HOF career, MVP, and was here for all four Super Bowls (no coincidence).
Obviously, we benefited greatly from the 1967 draft.
This year's three selections were originally two at the beginning of the Draft. When Minnesota selected Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida, with the 23rd selection, the media was praising our choice. After the combine, Floyd had risen up the charts to a top five pick, but then, like every year, was a player which fell for no apparent reason. Two picks later, CB Xavier Rhodes, FSU, was chosen 25th. Rhodes had also been expecting to be chosen higher in the round. Another star recruit from Florida State ends up in Minnesota. Like a pipeline.
Two important needs met nicely in round one. Time to reflect, and anticipate the upcoming Friday night picks in rounds two and three. We still needed to address WR and LB. The draft depth charts showed there was plenty of talent at both.
And then blind-sided. No, not the movie, but GM Rick Spielman. He goes and trades all the Friday picks to get one more on Thursday.The next few minutes seemed an eternity... The media was blasting Manti T'eo across the screen. Certainly Minnesota had given up the picks to fill its' most glaring hole: middle linebacker. I kept wondering how big a deal is it to create a media hoax about a girlfriend? That does not mean you cannot tackle, right? My mind drifted to Demetrius Underwood...
And then we chose Cordarelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee. Now I could not get Randy Moss out of my head. Patterson is a raw, dynamic deep threat. He is big. He is fast. And what do you want to bet he will wear #84?
Of course, most fans exalted. Three picks in one round. Three ready-to-go athletes for a team that had improved more than any other in Minnesota history, going from 3-13 to a playoff team at 10-6, having leap-frogged both Detroit and Chicago, and had beaten the Packers with a young Christian Ponder at the helm.
Never mind that I now had nothing to look forward to on Friday now. Friday was spent in quiet reflection.
Minnesota finished on Saturday with a flurry of late picks. We paired two linebackers from Penn State, a punter and guard from UCLA. Throw in a second Seminole and a North Carolina guard and it was over.
What to think?
Eight times Minnesota has had multiple first-round picks. The last, the previous year, resulted in two bona-fide future stars in Matt Kalil and Harrison Smith. Only once before has Minnesota had back-to-back multiple 1st round picks, and that was 1994-95. Among those picks was OT Korey Stringer and OG Todd Stuessie. Minnesota would soon go on a five-year playoff run with the 1998 team being considered one of the greatest in our history.
Only once has multiple first-round selections not been a good thing. In 2005, Minnesota selected Troy Williamson with the 7th pick, and Erasmus James with the 18th. Their combined ineffectiveness helped lose Mike Tice his job and perpetuate a three year absence from the playoffs (2005-07). Luckily, the Vikings rebounded in following drafts by selecting LB Chad Greenway (06), RB Adrian Peterson (07) and WR Percy Harvin (09).
General Manager Jim Finks (1964-1973) was the mastermind of the building of a purple dynasty that owes much of its' legacy to the 1967 Draft and the Tarkenton trades (to and from New York) and subsequent picks the next two years. Now Spielman, our GM who has overseen or controlled the last few drafts, is laying the foundation to develop a like dynasty. The 2013 Draft being much like that in 1967.
Time to whip up a batch of pure purple kool-aid.
The Minnesota Vikings are only a few days away from the 2013 NFL Draft. Like most teams, there are an abundance of positions that need filling, Included in these are wide receiver, defensive tackle, cornerback, and middle linebacker. One could argue every position could be upgraded, and choosing the best player available makes sense. But if there is a position that everyone agrees there is a need, it is middle linebacker.
The greatest middle linebacker in Minnesota Vikings' history was Scott Studwell. He is the all-time leader in tackles with 1,981. From his rookie year in 1977, to his final year in 1990, to the present where he still holds a front office job, Studwell was a find. The fact that he was chosen in the 9th round makes him one of the best value picks of all time. After Studwell, names like Jeff Siemon (a 4-time Pro Bowler), Ed McDaniel, and Henderson are what follows.
In the glory years of the Vikings defense, the strength of the linebackers were the outside paring of Wally Hilgenberg and Roy Winston. After that, Matt Blair and Fred McNiel did the job. Blair did it so well that he was named to six consecutive Pro Bowls (1977-82). He was a key part to why Minnesota attended Super Bowls IX and XI. Many consider Blair the best Vikings' linebacker ever. After that, one has to consider Greenway next in line among outside linebackers all-time.
With the parting of Jasper Brinkley, who was to replace E.J Henderson, and the inability of MInnesota to sign a free agent at middle linebacker, there is a glaring hole in the middle. No one doubts Chad Greenway. Drafted 17th overall from Iowa, he is a permanent fixture at SLB. On the other side, Erin Henderson is the starting WLB. According to media, Minnesota tried to persaude MLB Brian Urlacher to come join the Purple from the rival Chicago Bears, but nothing manifested.
Among the reserves who could step up in playing time are Audie Cole, the 6'4 MLB who piqued the interest of most fans who watch the preseason with interception returns for touchdown. Tyrone McKenzie could also step into a ILB role. On the outside, Larry Dean and Marvin Mitchell have looked good when called upon. Little is known by the casual fan (we without film) if one of these guys could step into a leadership role at MLB. Certainly we are hopeful.
More likely is that Minnesota spends one of their precious first-round selections on an inside linebacker. Combined with a pick at defensive tackle, or cornerback, that puts the Vikings in the best position to improve the defense. And, everyone say it with me, "Defense Wins Championships".
So who might we take?
Most experts have the DE/LB stars going early. Dion Jordan, Barkevious Mingo, Jarvis Jones, and possibly Alec Ogletree are expected to be gone. Only Ogletree is considered an ILB among them. But legal troubles haunt the Georgia graduate, which have him fluctuating the most on mock draft boards. If he somehow drops to Minnesota, we have to remember Warren Sapp, and draft him. But that is not likely.
The following are expected to be available at picks 23 and 25, who are possible selections by Minnesota:
Aurthur Brown, Kansas State, 6'0, 241 lbs. Ran a 4.67 at his own Pro Day. People like him. He had 100 tackles at K-State in 13 starts in 2012. He has appeared in the mid-first round to late second round in mock drafts.
Kevin Minter, LSU, 6'0, 246 lbs. Had a disappointing 40 time in combine at 4.81. But did have 130 tackles with 15 for loss. 1st team All-SEC, and anchor for a college powerhouse. First or second round possible.
Manti Te'o, Notre Dame, 6'1, 241 lbs. Probably the most known player in the draft, for all the wrong reasons. Yet still, he keeps climbing in expert opinion, and is now finding himself near the place where Minnesota drafts. He had a 4.82, but some consider it a low-estimate. He had very good field drills in the workout, impressing many. Picked to go to Baltimore with 32nd pick mostly.
After that there is a hefty drop off. There are still other names of MLB hopefuls, such as Kevin Reddick (UNC), Kiko Alonso (GA), Jonathan Bostic (FLA), Sio Moore (CONN), and others. If Minnesota decided not to take a MLB in the first round, there will still be decent players in the latter rounds. They just won't have the immediate impact potential that the above few are considered to possess. And while a present reserve may claim the job to start, surely developing a blue-chipper at MLB makes sense.
With only a few days until the glorious draft, we fans have little time left to imagine.
And imagining a shiny new MLB feels good.
The list of top defensive backs in Minnesota history is not a long one. Paul Krause is the all-time interception leader with fifty-three, He is also the NFL career leader at eighty-one, having passed Emlen Tunnell's total of seventy-nine in 1979. Cornerback Bobby Bryant, a two-time Pro Bowler (1975-76), is next with fifty-one. Cornerback Ed Sharockman (1961-1972), an original Viking, is third with forty. The current fourth place leader in interceptions may have ultimately been our best, Joey Browner. While he collected only thirty-seven interceptions, Browner was selected to the Pro Bowl six consecutive years (1985-1990). He was a three-time All-Pro. And he was well-known for the decisiveness within which he tackled opponents.
It is no coincidence that the top three interception leaders played during the time of the Purple People Eaters. With Carl Eller, Alan Page, and Jim Marshall meeting at the quarterback on a regular basis, opponents often were forced to throw in fear. However, rule changes over the years have made it increasingly difficult on the defensive back. Even the NFL's best of not too long ago (Darrelle Revis, Nnamdi Asomugha) can quickly become obsolete in a season. The turnover rate at cornerback can sometimes resemble fast-food employment.
Defensive backs are measured generally with interceptions, tackles, and pass defenses.. But sometimes success can lessen the measures. Shut-down corners are often left alone. Further, the ability to hit hard like Robert Griffith (1994-01) is not calculated. Antoine Winfield (2004-12) has only twenty-one interceptions in his nine years with Minnesota, but made three Pro Bowls. It should have been more.
Over the fifty-two previous NFL drafts, obtaining top-notch defensive backs has not been a draft priority for Minnesota. Sharockman, our first decent DB, was selected in the 5th round in that first draft in 1961. Bryant was chosen in the 7th round in 1967. Carl Lee (1983-93, 3 Pro Bowls) was a late round selection. Minnesota traded for Paul Krause in 1968. Our very first use of a first round pick (19th overall) on a defensive back was Joey Browner in 1983. The earliest the Vikings have ever selected a defensive back was in 1994, when Minnesota drafted cornerback DeWayne Washington with the 18th pick. Last year's second first-round choice of Harrison Smith was the next.
That is it.
Rick Spielman assumed control of the draft selections in 2007. In the six drafts since Spielman has not found a defensive back that has wowed fans. At least until 2012's Harrison Smith. Cornerback Marcus McCauley, chosen 82nd overall in 2007, now plays in the United Football League. Safety Tyrell Johnson, 41st overall in 2008, was disappointing. Let go in 2010, he made the practice squad in Miami for a while, and played sparingly in Detroit last year.Cornerback Asher Allen was selected 86th overall in 2009, but managed only three seasons before a concussion helped end his career. Safety Jamarca Sanford, selected 231st in the same draft, was often on the field in 2012.
More recent early selections include first pick cornerback Chris Cook, chosen 34th overall in the 2nd round in 2010. He has had personal issues and injuries that have interfered with his success, but appeared to be getting better in 2012. Cornerback Josh Robinson, selected 66th overall last year, has definitely shown promise in his first season. And his 4.29 speed is evident.
But there is not much for depth.
On the roster with thoughts of being used are Brandon Burton (5th rd, '11), Mistral Raymond (6th rd, '11), Sanford, Marcus Sherels, and Andrew Sendejo. Late in the 2012 season, Minnesota fans learned why speed like Robinson's is coveted, while speed like A.J. Jefferson (4.51) is not. So with that in mind, let's look at what is out there...
Expected to be drafted before the Vikings picks at 23 and 25
CB Dee Milliner, Alabama, 6'0, 201 lbs, 4.35 40-yard dash, 36" vertical jump, did not bench.
CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State, 6'1, 210 lbs, 4.39 secs, 40.5, 14 reps.
S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas, 6'0, 214 lbs, 4.59 secs, 38 inch, 15 reps.
CB Desmond Trufant, Washington, 6'0, 190 lbs, 4.38 secs, 37.5 inch, 16 reps.
Expected to be drafted by Vikings' 2nd round pick, #52.
S Matt Elam, Florida State, 5'10, 208 lbs, no stats available.
CB Jonathan Banks, Mississippi State 6'2, 185 lbs, 4.59 secs, 34 inch, 10 reps.
S Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International, 6'0, 217 lbs, no stats.
S Eric Reid, LSU, 6'1, 213 lbs, 4.49 secs, 40.5 inch, 17 reps.
Should be drafted by the end of round three.
CB Jamar Taylor, Boise State, 5'11, 192 lbs, 4.37 secs, 35 inch, 22 reps.
CB David Amerson, North Carolina State, 6'1, 205 lbs, 4.35 secs, 35.5 inch, 15 reps.
CB Jordan Poyer, Oregon State, 6'0, 191 lbs, 4.50 secs, 30.5 inch, 8 reps.
S Phillip Thomas, Fresno State, 6'0, 208 lbs, 4.57 secs, 35 inch, 14 reps.
CB Darius Slay, Mississippi State, 6'0, 192 lbs, 4.31 secs, 35.5 inch, 14 reps.
CB Robert Alford, SE Louisiana, 5'10, 188 lbs, 4.34 secs, 40 inch, 17 reps.
CB Logan Ryan, Rutgers, 5'11, 191 lbs, 4.53 secs, 32.5 inch, 14 reps.
S Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse, 5-9, 213 lbs, no stats.
CB Tyrann Mathieu, LSU, 5'9, 186 lbs, 4.46 secs, 34 inch, 4 reps.
CB Bildi Wreh-Wilson, Connecticut, 6'1, 195 lbs, 4.45 secs, 36 inch, 14 reps.
S Bacarri Rambo, Georgia, 6'1, 211 lbs, 4.56 secs, n/a vertical, 17 reps.
CB Dwayne Gratz, Connecticut, 5'11, 201 lbs, 4.44 secs, 38 inch, 22 reps.
There is a host of other defensive backs that will be chosen before the draft ends. I expect Minnesota will have to select at least two, and maybe more. In 2012, Minnesota invested three of their first seven picks on defensive backs. And it appears to have paid dividends.
I think a CB in round two, like Taylor, Amerson, Slay, or Poyer makes sense. Maybe grab another, or a safety with one of the two fourth round choices available. A D. J. Swearinger from South Carolina, or Shawn Williams from Georgia.
But I trust Spielman does not need my thoughts.
As a youngster watching the Vikings in the late 1960s and early 1970s, I followed as the group of defensive linemen known as the Purple People Eaters (Carl Eller, Jim Marshall, Alan Page, Gary Larsen) destroyed rival offenses. So much so that Minnesota led in defensive scoring from 1965 to 1971.Two (Eller, Page) are currently Hall of Famers with one (Marshall) knocking on the door.
The first Super Bowl season,1969, every member of the front four made the Pro Bowl.
Alan Page won a league MVP in 1971. No, not defensive player of the year. The league's best.
It was no coincidence that this group played together in three Super Bowls, and 3/4 in the fourth (Larsen replaced by Doug Sutherland). Jim Marshall played DE for nineteen seasons, and 270 games. Carl Eller sixteen seasons with five All-Pro years. Alan Page just over eleven seasons with nine Pro Bowls...
Minnesota managed to keep finding exceptional defensive linemen over the years. Doug Martin was drafted in 1980 and recorded over 50 sacks. Future Hall of Famer Chris Doleman was selected in 1985 and would register 142 sacks in 154 games.Drafted in 1984, Keith Millard came over from the defunct USFL in 1985 and had 53 sacks in 75 games.In 1989 he set a record with 18 sacks for a defensive tackle and was named defensive player of the year. Henry Thomas played in 118 games from 1987 to 1994, and would collect over 90 sacks in his career.
But there has also been some disappointments over the years. Names like first round picks Demetrius Underwood, Kenechi Udeze, and Erasmus James, haunt the recent memory.
Maybe that is why we have not selected a defensive player first in the last four drafts? Or why we have not selected a defensive player with a first round pick since 2006 (Chad Greenway)? Why we have not used a first-round pick on a defensive linemen since Udeze (2004).
Maybe it is time to re-focus on the front four?
The 2013 Vikings' front four is still formidable. Jared Allen has played in all 80 games since coming from Kansas City, and has recorded 74 sacks. Kevin Williams has five first-team All-Pro awards at defensive tackle in his ten seasons with the Vikings. 2012 starter Brian Robison and Everson Griffen give good depth at end. Griffen looked very good late in the season. Letroy Guion and Fred Evans have been seemingly solid at nose tackle. Christian Ballard is improving every year at tackle.
The only concern is age.
At 33, Kevin Williams cannot have too many seasons left. He has played against double-teams for too many years. He has been one of the greatest defensive tackles in his time.Probably a top ten defensive lineman in Vikings' history. He has been doing it for ten years.
Evans, Robison, and Allen are also aging. Combined they have 25 NFL seasons under their belts. The Williams Wall, the reason Minnesota has been so strong in run defense and sacks in recent years, will soon be gone entirely. Pat Williams retired after the 2010 season.
It is time to rebuild.
With two first-round selections (23, 25), a 2nd round pick (52), 3rd round (83), and two 4th round (99,117), and the glut of available defensive line, Minnesota is likely to select a defensive tackle early in the 2013 Draft. Here they are based on a loose overview of many reputable sources...
Expected to be drafted before Pick 23.
Star Loutulelei, Utah, 6'4, 320. First Team All-American in 2012.
Sharrif Floyd, Florida, 6'3, 303. 115 tackles, 26 for loss and 3 blocked kicks.
Sheldon Richardson, Alabama, 6'4, 295. Has reportedly run as fast as 4.71, 5.02 at combine.
Should be available at 23rd, gone by the 52nd Pick
Jesse Williams, Alabama, 6'4, 320. DE/DT. Strong run-stopper.
Jonathan Hankins, Ohio State, 6'3, 320. A junior. Could play DE or DT.
Jonathan Jenkins, Georgia, 6'3, 359. True nose tackle. Dominated Senior Bowl
Kawann Short, Purdue, 6'3, 310. Had 18.5 sacks over three seasons.
Sylvester Williams, North Carolina, 6'2, 313. Ran quick 5.03. Junior college transfer.
Could be drafted by 99th Pick
Brandon Williams, Missouri Southern State, 6'1, 335. Silenced critics with strong Senior Bowl.
Bennie Logan, LSU, 6'2, 309. Said to run under 5.00. Defensive end turned nose tackle.
Akeem Spence, Illinois, 6'1, 307. 5.15 in 40. Only DTs benched more in combine.
Jordan Hill, Penn State, 6'1, 303. 5.23 time.
Montori Hughes, Tennessee-Martin, 6'4, 329. 5.23 time.
We assume that the top three will not be available by our first pick. It is possible more will be gone.
Brandon Williams, Sylvester Williams, or Jesse Williams sounds like the right move. Maybe get two of them?
And resurrect the Wall the Williams way.
|Vikings (124)||AFC (9)|
|Bears (45)||Ex-Vikings (7)|
|Football on TV (11)||Lions (48)|
|NFC (47)||NFL draft (18)|
|NFL post-season (28)||Packers (70)|
|Super Bowl (61)||Vikings coaches (12)|
|Vikings defense (13)||Vikings fans (44)|
|Vikings injury report (3)||Vikings management (6)|
|Vikings off the field (3)||Vikings offense (16)|
|Vikings quarterbacks (13)||Vikings road games (5)|
|Vikings rookies (7)||Vikings roster moves (17)|
|Vikings special teams (2)||Vikings training camp (2)|
|Off the field (4)||On the road (10)|
|Quarterbacks (16)||Rookies (2)|
|The draft (21)||Twins fans (1)|
|Vikings players (15)||Adrian Peterson (71)|
|Anthony Herrera (4)||Antoine Winfield (23)|
|Ben Leber (2)||Bernard Berrian (9)|
|Bobby Wade (1)||Brad Childress (13)|
|Brett Favre (61)||Brian Robison (11)|
|Bryant McKinnie (9)||Cedric Griffin (14)|
|Chad Greenway (21)||Chester Taylor (4)|
|Chris Kluwe (1)||E.J. Henderson (4)|
|Heath Farwell (1)||Jared Allen (26)|
|John Sullivan (6)||Kevin Williams (16)|
|Leslie Frazier (14)||Madieu Williams (3)|
|Pat Williams (5)||Percy Harvin (41)|
|Phil Loadholt (15)||Ray Edwards (14)|
|Sage Rosenfels (3)||Sidney Rice (18)|
|Steve Hutchinson (7)||Tarvaris Jackson (15)|
|Tyrell Johnson (4)||Visanthe Shiancoe (9)|
|Brad Childress (13)||Leslie Frazier (14)|