In the final edition of Analyzing The Enemy, we'll take a look at the final five players that the Vikings grabbed this year. The first five grabs were, in my opinion, under-rated and over-criticized. In a recap, the Vikings effectively took the best available player for their biggest need in the first round, and appear to have went straight up BPA in their next 4 picks.
So how'd they do on their second set? follow me to the clearing at the end of the jump and we'll peer into the eyes of the last of the new crop of enemy soldiers......
With their second pick in the sixth round, the Vikings grabbed Southern Florida FS Mistral Raymond. Aside from the cool name, (which was rumored to be the entire reason the George Halas took Dan Fortmann as the Bears last pick in the first NFL Draft, lol. Oh, how far the draft has come.) Raymond's biggest positive might be his never quit attitude. He walked on to Southern Florida after two years in junior college in Iowa and earned the Green and Gold award as the teams best walk on. He worked his way to a starting position and an eventual NFL draft berth. His work ethic is outstanding. He's projected as a corner, but has played every position in the defensive backfield, so his versatility is a bonus and a 6'1 and 195 lbs, he has the size to play anywhere. He is instinctive, physical and aggressive and has no problems mixing it up with receivers or sticking rushers and is a vicious tackler. He's better in zone coverage than in man, which fits Minnesota's cover 2 scheme. But he does have his issues. And they aren't small. Saying his speed isn't ideal is an understatement (ran a 4.67 40) and his man coverage skills are lacking. His footwork and hips are not good and his ball skills are marginal, to be kind. In other words, Raymond is going to need time to develop. It's funny, really. If you combined Raymond and Burton, you'd have a first round DB. As it is, you have two developmental projects. But for all his flaws, I can see why the Vikings were interested. His attitude is fantastic and I'm sure the Vikings feel it gives him the ability to overcome his flaws through training and willpower. I tend to agree, and that earns this very raw recruits selection a C-.
Heading right back to the BPA value route, the Vikings nabbed Slippery Rock C Brandon Fusco. Small school or not, Fusco is a value in the 6th round after being generally projected as a 4th round prospect. The 6'4" 305 lb center is a a heady linemen with great sealing skills. He stays square, bends at the knees and consistently gets leverage on his opponent. He has a very nasty attitude when blocking and gives effort whistle to whistle, and he's quick to look for someone to block or help teammates. He's a good leader and has a great work ethic and good awareness. He does need some work in dealing with more explosive linemen and he's a bit stiff when in motion. He sometimes struggles to hit a moving target. I liked Fusco coming into the draft and had hoped that the Bears would nab him as Kreutz's eventual replacement. He was generally listed as the 3rd or 4th best center in the draft and I thought he might have been under-rated there. I'm giving this grab an A and I hate that he went to the Vikings instead of the Bears.
The Vikings seemed to luck into value player at positions of need throughout the draft. Their final pick of the 6th round was no different. In Ross Homan, the Vikings got a player projected as a late 3rd to early 4th round pick who could make an immediate impact on special teams, and could develop into a Hunter Hillenmeyer type jack-of-all-trades backup, and it's wouldn't surprise me to see him start eventually. Homan is a smart player who was the leader of the Ohio State defense and team's playcaller. He has a high football IQ and knows his own strengths and limitations and plays to them. He's decent as a pass rusher, and always seems to be on top of the ball in run coverage. Ross a fair tackler, but not explosive by any means. He has reasonable but not great speed (runs a 4.66 40) and plays sideline to sideline. While he's not the best athlete, he makes up for his shortcomings with instinct and intelligence. He breaks down well, changes directions quickly and rarely gets knocked down. He shows promise in coverage and gets good depth. He also uses his hands well. He struggles in traffic, though, and is sometimes too easily blocked at the point of impact. The Vikings got a good, tough LB in the 6'1 240 prospect two to three rounds later than he was projected. I'm giving this pick a B.
The seventh round saw the Vikings grab D'Aundre Reed, a defensive end from Arizona. Reed is a developmental prospect who has some good technique but lacks the physical attributes to make him a higher pick. He has good form and lean, and he flashes the strength to get good penetration, but lacks the speed to be an effective end rusher at the next level (he runs a mid 4.8 40). He lacks bulk at 6'4" and 260 lbs, but has the frame to add some size. He does have good strength and put up 30 reps at the combine. He didn't really excel in any area in college, putting up fewer than 10 career sacks in a pass-first conference and yet not being especially stout against the run. He also has a very poor burst off the line and is often late at the snap. Honestly, the guy was a 7th round developmental project, but I'd be surprised if he made the active roster. He was projected as a UFA and in most cases I wouldn't dock a team for grabbing a UFA projection in the 7th round, but in this case, I really feel like it was a completely wasted draft pick by the Vikings. Maybe they saw something in him they liked, but I can't help but feel that they could have waited and nabbed him once the lockout ends and they could sign free agents. Still, it's a 7th round pick and DE was a position of potential need with Ray Edwards being a free agent, so I'll give this pick a D.
The final pick for the Vikings saw them take a shot at adding a weapon for Chris Ponder. They did so by drafting 6'4" 215 lb WR Stephen Burton of West Texas A&M. Projected in the 6th round, Burton has good size and speed (4.50 40). He runs good routes with sharp breaks and plays smart to the defender, timing his breaks well to his opponent. He has good strength and thick arms. He's tough across the middle and isn't afraid of contact. Burton does well after the catch and breaks arm tackles with bull rushing and spin moves. He's also capable of the "spectacular catch" and fights for the ball. He's a big physical receiver with a lot of confidence in his size and strength. He shows inconsistent effort as a blocker, though. And his deep route speed is lacking. He also drops too many catchable balls and leaves his feet for seemingly no reason while making receptions. Burton is a raw talent who's glaring problems mostly revolve around technique. If the Vikings can get him up to speed, he could be a potent part of their offense for a long time. Call me crazy, but this kid reminds me an awful lot of Marques Colston. Similar size, similar attributes, similar knocks and similar draft position . I'm giving this pick a B.
And there are the second set of Vikings selections. Overall, I think the Vikings did far better than they are being given credit for, and they mostly followed a best-player-available draft philosophy, which is always a positive inn my book. I'm probably going to get lambasted for this, but I think the overall draft for the Vikings was great (and I happen to believe that the NFC North had the strongest division draft this year). I also think the Vikings did an equal job to the Lions overall, and that they exceeded to job the Packers did. I give their draft a A-.
Thanks for reading, my friends. Let us know what you thought of my grades and how you felt about their drafts below. And Bear Down!