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Draft scouting reports: Here's what they said about Vikings' biggest stars

 

 

Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins throws a pass as he runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

 

 

NFL scouting reports can be, and often are, hit or miss. There are those evaluations that absolutely nail it, but for the most part, the assessments are a bag of half-truths.

Let’s face it: It’s a hard job to project how successful a college player will be as a pro. If Tom Brady, a sixth-round draft pick out of Michigan, doesn’t teach us that, nothing will.  With that in mind, we thought we’d look back to see some of what scouts from NFL.com and a few other outlets had to say about a few of the Vikings’ most prominent players.

First, take a look at what the site has to say about this year’s draft picks. Our Mark Craig did his own NFL mock draft, and Ben Goessling took a deep dive to project all eight Vikings’ picks. Now a glance at what was said about players currently on the Vikings’ roster.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins: Fourth round, 2012, Redskins

What they said: “He is a self-made guy, a tireless worker who has deficiencies that could hurt his pro potential. He is not a very strong deep thrower; while his velocity is adequate, his accuracy when throwing deep is questionable. Ultimately, Cousins is a guy who could get drafted based on his experience and intangibles, and will need to put on size and fine-tune certain throwing deficiencies to catch on at the next level. Based on the production and leadership at Michigan State, Cousins has late-round value to a team looking for someone to compete for a backup role.”

Defensive end Everson Griffen: Fourth round, 2010, Vikings

 

 

Southern California defensive end Everson Griffen sacks Washington State quarterback Marshall Lobbestael. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson

 

What they said: “Griffen is a solid pass rusher that anticipates well off the edge but not an impact player in this phase of his game. Griffen is a good football player that doesn’t always play with great intensity or consistent effort which may hurt his 2010 draft status.”

Safety Harrison Smith: First round, 2012, Vikings

What they said: “Harrison is an ultra-athletic, big and smart safety who has roamed the secondary as a four-year starter and senior captain for Notre Dame. He is the type of safety who is always involved, using his quickness, recognition and overall body control to react effectively to plays. .Smith can struggle when covering man to man. He often finds himself in a poor position when the ball is thrown. Short area movements are of a concern somewhat, so he will be much better in a read-and-react zone defense in which he can rely on instincts and recognition more than athletic ability.”

Wide receiver Stefon Diggs: Fifth round, 2015, Vikings

What they said: “Doesn’t possess the strength or long speed to make a living as an outside receiver, but he can be an extremely effective weapon from the slot as a pro, turning short third-down throws into first downs. Diggs can make things happen when he has the ball in his hands and could become a consistent, productive weapon for the right offensive coordinator.”

Cornerback Xavier Rhodes: First round, 2013,  Vikings

 

 

Florida State defensive back Xavier Rhodes runs a drill during the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

 

 

 What they said: “As a pro, Rhodes will be a very good cornerback to match up against big receivers. He has the height and strength to be physical with them. Rhodes is very adept at taking away fade passes in the red zone. As a tall corner, his great length makes it tough to get the ball by him. He can also run with big receivers in their routes and keep them from gaining separation. Rhodes has the ability to play press-man coverage. He also is excellent in zone coverage. The aspect Rhodes should work on is off man coverage. While he is a big corner capable of handling receivers with size, he could have some problems with the smaller speed wide outs like Mike Wallace. Rhodes’ NFL team would be better off keeping him matched up against the big receivers.”

Tight end Kyle Rudolph: Second round, 2011, Vikings

What they said: “Rudolph missed the final seven games of 2010 after undergoing hamstring surgery, but he has the potential to develop into a weapon in the passing game at the next level. He is fast and has the hip fluidity to separate in and out of his breaks in man coverage. He has tremendous hands and shows a knack for coming down with the ball in traffic. He lacks the strength and bulk to be an effective run blocker, but he works hard to sustain and keeps solid position. Rudolph is a very good receiving tight end and could be a steal in the second round.”

Linebacker Eric Kendricks: Second round, 2015, Vikings

 

 

UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

 

 

What they said: “Kendricks is an intelligent leader with high football character. Scouts don’t see the same explosiveness in Eric as they see in his brother Mychal (Eagles LB), but they do see the same level of production and desire. Eric Kendricks plays with plus instincts against the run and pass. He has the athleticism and demeanor to be an impactful, productive outside linebacker in a 4-3 for years to come.”

Left tackle Riley Reiff: First round, 2012, Detroit Lions

What they said: “Riley has incredible body control and is a true technician working within the box. He uses his hands well but is more of a catcher, a method that has served him well to this point. He has been durable, reliable and nasty on the field for Iowa, and has the flexibility to play on both sides of the line given his fluid footwork. Reiff was a very polished player at Iowa who didn’t show many weaknesses. He is not the strongest prospect at the position, as he is more of a catch blocker in pass protection and won’t have the ability to decleat any ends in the NFL. If any type of foe will give him issues at the next level, it could be heavy 3-4 defensive ends who could out-leverage him and blow him back.”

Vikings beat writer Andrew Krammer explored a number of trends you’ll find on the team’s roster — most-represented college conference, draft-round most represented, and more. He even looked at how many three- four- and five-star former college recruits make up the team. There are lot of roads that eventually land a player in a Vikings’ purple uniform. Including scouting reports.

So, it’s clear that evaluating talent is a skill, but there’s also a lot of luck involved. Players exceed expectations all the time. In fact, many make a career out of doing just that. So study the stars by their names and read the scouting reports, but don’t place all of your bets on those assessments.

Griffen: Adding Sheldon Richardson 'is music to my ears'

The Vikings’ pass rush didn’t produce the way Mike Zimmer wanted at the end of a 14-win season, including the first playoff win since 2009.

There were many reasons. Everson Griffen’s “completely” torn plantar fascia suffered in Week 8 is one. A lack of pass rush up the middle is another.

Griffen, speaking to reporters Tuesday from the Vikings’ new Eagan headquarters, expects both problems to be in the past in 2018.

“It bothered me,” Griffen said. “If anybody has had a torn plantar fascia — I completely tore mine.”

Griffen had 10 sacks in eight games before the injury. He finished the year with a career-high 14 sacks in 17 games. Now he said the injury is behind him as Vikings players participated Tuesday in offseason workouts.

“It’s doing great,” Griffen said. “I feel good.”

The Vikings needed a full-time defensive tackle next to Linval Joseph, so they signed Sheldon Richardson to a one-year, $8 million contract in March.

With some refining, Richardson can free up Griffen to make more plays off the edge.

“Bringing in Sheldon Richardson is music to my ears,” Griffen said. “I love seeing that, because the fastest way to the quarterback is up the middle. If he’s getting pressure up the middle and push up the middle, that means we can use more speed and we’re not getting as many chips.”

Griffen pointed to defenses of Mike Zimmer’s past coaching jobs as examples of why a “dominant” three-technique defensive tackle is needed in the system.

“[Richardson] is dominant,” Griffen said. “He’s got to learn how to pass rush a little bit, but that’s why we’ve got the best D-line coach in the NFL. [Andre Patterson] is going to help him tremendously, because that’s what he does.”

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