Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Sixth round: Gems like Sullivan, Webb can be found

Posted by: Mark Craig under Vikings, NFC, NFL draft, Brian Robison, Jared Allen, John Sullivan, Vikings draft Updated: April 14, 2012 - 8:18 AM

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.

 
[[[ See our previous breakdowns: ROUND 2, ROUND 3, ROUND 4,ROUND 5]]]
 
TODAY'S ROUND: 6.
VIKINGS' PICK: 175th overall.
 
SINCE 2007: The sixth round is where scouts really start to earn their money. Starters typically don't come from this round, but hidden gems can be found with a lot of work. A strong knowledge of the team's schematics and an ability to project how a less talented player will be able to fit is a must. It's also a round to begin taking chances on superior athletes, such as a Joe Webb. The Vikings have eight players in the sixth round since 2007. One of them, center John Sullivan, is a starter. Overall, it's been a good round for Spielman considering he's picked Sullivan, Joe Webb and at least two promising youngsters (Mistral Raymond and Brandon Fusco) a year ago.
 
HITS: 2.
 
1, John Sullivan, C, Notre Dame, 187th overall, 2008: Sullivan not only became a starter, but the team identified him last year as the piece to rebuild its offensive line around. He was given a five-year extension and should be here long after that. He hasn't reached Pro Bowl level, but has made considerable strides and is the kind of player a personnel guy dreams about when he's picking in the sixth round. It's an even better pick considering Spielman made it with a choice obtained in the Jared Allen trade that year.
 
2, Joe Webb, QB/WR, Alabama-Birmingham, 199th overall, 2010: Even though the team is still exploring how to best use him, Webb is another dream pick in the sixth round. The college QB was selected as a receiver but was switched back to QB because of his arm strength, athleticism and overall knaack for the position. He's still raw, but he also gives the Vikings a backup QB that can win games if he has to. He's a playmaker, and those are hard to find in the sixth round. 
 
MISSES: 3.
 
1, Rufus Alexander, LB, Oklahoma, 176th overall, 2007: He tore his ACL in the first preseason game and never played a down for the Vikings. He was released in 2008 and it out of football. But there was a glimmer of success in the sixth round in 2007. The Vikings used their other sixth-rounder that year as part of the deal that moved them up in the fourth round to take Brian Robison.
 
2, Jaymar Johnson, WR, Jackson State, 193rd overall, 2008: He was a practice squad player who dealt with injuries and was released before last season. He played in just six games, catching one pass for 9 yards in 2009. However, don't beat up too much on this pick. It was obtained from Jacksonville for Troy Williamson. The fact the Vikings found someone to give up a draft pick for Williamson was a victory in itself.
 
3, Ross Homan, LB, Ohio State, 200th overall, 2011: This was just a Jim Thome-sized swing and a miss. Homan was released in training camp and is looking for a job. If it's any consolation, this was a compensatory pick.
 
 
TO BE DETERMINED: 3.
 
1, DeMarcus Love, OT, Arkansas, 168th overall, 2011: There's nothing to judge him on. Last year was essentially a red-shirt season. He was never active. That doesn't mean he's a bust. At least not yet. Offensive linemen taken later in the draft often need at least a year to build their bodies to NFL caliber.
 
2, Mistral Raymond, S, South Florida, 170th overall, 2011: He's a promising young player with size and cover ability. He played in 10 games with five starts last year. The starts, however, were the result of injuries to other players. He's still raw, but overall had a good first year.
 
3, Brandon Fusco, G, Slippery Rock, 172nd overall, 2011: He played in three games, which is impressive for a late-round pick from a Division II school. He's being touted as a contender for one of the team's starting guard positions. Work ethic isn't a problem.
 
 
FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH IN ROUND 6, 2012:
 
1, Duke Ihanacho, SS, San Jose State: With only three safeties on the roster at this point, the Vikings eventually are going to have to start restocking the safety shelf. If they wait this long to grab one, Ihanacho, an aggressive player and three-time first-team All-WAC selection, is a possibility. He's 6-foot, 213 pounds.
 
2, Travis Lewis, LB, Oklahoma: Linebacker is another position where more depth would be nice. Lewis (6-1, 246 pounds) led OU in tackles the last three years. And he also broke Brian Bosworth's freshman record for tackles. (And if you don't know who Brian Bosworth is, you're waaay too young). Lewis comes with a reputation of having strong instincts and anticipation, and he's fluid in coverage. He also started 51 games at OU, a school record for linebackers.
 
3, DeVier Posey, WR, Ohio State: He's an intriguing prospect that could turn into a steal in the later rounds. He's 6-2, 212 pounds and can be a playmaker down the field. His six 100-yard games ranks eighth in OSU history. He played only three games last year because of a suspension. Had he played a full season, he probably would be projected higher in the draft.
 
4, Donny Fletcher, CB, Boston College: Considered to have a strong understanding of zone concepts and a willingness to attack the run with a solid tackling ability. He's also 6-1, 199, so he's got the size that could help him against the giants of the NFC North.
 
5, Akiem Hicks, DT, Regina: At this point in the draft, it might be worth taking a gamble on a massive, athletic Canadian. He's raw, but he's also 6-5, 318 pounds and supposedly comes with a nasty side that could make him a force one day.  
 

 

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