Everyone from the expert-level draftnik to the most casual Vikings fan has discussed the Vikings' No. 3 overall pick ad nauseam. But what about the team's nine other picks? What might a team with numerous holes to fill do on Days 2-3 of this month's NFL draft? Access Vikings is taking a round-by-round look at the team's history in Rounds 2-7 since Rick Spielman began overseeing the team's draft preparation as director of player personnel in 2007. We'll also take a look at players Spielman, now the team's general manager, might select later this month.
TODAY'S ROUND: 5.
VIKINGS' PICK: 138th overall.
SINCE 2007: The fifth round isn’t usually a hotbed for Pro Bowl talent. Instead, teams are hoping to discover a few diamonds in the rough that can eventually be molded into starters or key backups. The Vikings have selected seven players in the fifth round since 2007 with mixed results.
1, Aundrae Allison, WR, East Carolina, 146th overall, 2007: The best-case scenario for Allison, who slid down the draft board in ’07, was that he could be a dynamic return man who could also lend some speed and explosiveness on offense. But he was inconsistent as a pass catcher and often lacked focus. In two seasons with the Vikings, he had 18 catches for 231 yards and was waived during training camp in 2009.
2, John David Booty, QB, Southern Cal, 137th overall, 2008: Booty’s most memorable moment as a Viking may have been surrendering his number 4 jersey when legendary quarterback Brett Favre came to town. Other than that, he never took a regular-season snap.
3, Nate Triplett, LB, Minnesota, 167th overall, 2010: Oops! There were hopes that Triplett, a homegrown product who was a nice guy, could channel his talent into becoming a valuable special teams contributor. Yet Triplett couldn’t even make the practice squad out of training camp.
4, Brandon Burton, CB, Utah, 139th overall, 2011: With the signings of free agent cornerbacks Zack Bowman and Chris Carr, it’s likely Burton will spend much of 2012 as a special teams contributor while being stored as an emergency corner. Even as the secondary and the season fell apart last fall, Burton couldn’t earn significant playing time on defense until Christmas-time.
TO BE DETERMINED: 3.
1, Letroy Guion, DT, Florida State, 152nd overall, 2008: We’re giving Guion the “To Be Determined” label with full knowledge that 2012 will be the year that his career arc is determined. Shortly after signing Guion last month to a new deal that will pay him $9 million over the next three seasons, the Vikings cut Remi Ayodele, clearing the stage at nose tackle. The belief inside the organization is that pairing Guion with new defensive line coach Brendan Daly will trigger an impressive emergence up front.
2, Jasper Brinkley, LB, South Carolina, 150th overall, 2009: Like Guion, Brinkley will be given every opportunity to flourish in 2012, in line to start at middle linebacker. But after spending all of 2011 on injured reserve with a hip injury, Brinkley must prove he can handle a heavy workload and show the speed he had before he got hurt.
3, Chris DeGeare, OL, Wake Forest, 161st overall, 2010: At the NFL Owners Meetings in Florida last month, head coach Leslie Frazier said DeGeare would be given a chance to compete for a starting position at guard in 2012. But that was more likely a nugget of motivation for the third-year lineman who may be lucky to land a reserve role.
FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH IN ROUND 5, 2012:
1, Brandon Hardin, S, Oregon State: No team needs safety help as bad as the Vikings, so why not take a flier on a guy like Hardin? Yes, he missed all of 2011 with a broken bone in his left shoulder. But Hardin has admirable savvy, good speed and athleticism and is well suited for a zone-based system.
2, Juron Criner, WR, Arizona: Criner’s 38-inch vertical leap jump at the combine provided a glimpse into his athleticism. He has a knack for making the spectacular catch but isn’t a burner and hasn’t always shown consistent effort.
3, Michael Smith, RB, Utah State: As the Vikings continue to search for a change-of-pace back to play behind Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, Smith could be a good fit and a decent late-round find thanks to his quick burst and pass-catching ability. He’s also a team-first guy.
4, Audie Cole, ILB, N.C. State: The Vikings’ coaching staff got an extended look at Cole while coaching him at the Senior Bowl in January. He’s a smart player who rarely wanders out of place. The question is whether Cole’s impressive energy is enough to compensate for his mediocre speed.
5, Tom Compton, OL, South Dakota: A former star at Rosemount High School and a four-year starter in college, Compton hopes to find a niche in the NFL with his intelligence and efficiency. He’s 6-foot-5 and 314 pounds and could provide depth to the offensive tackle position.