Josh Norris

Draft Decisions

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NFL Draft Preview: Vikings

Monday, March 31, 2014


Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is the Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld's NFL Page, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) leads Rotoworld's college football and NFL draft coverage. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential solutions in May's draft.


For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by team draft preview schedule.

 

No. 1 Team Need: Quarterback


Silva's analysis


Vikings GM Rick Spielman formally threw in the towel on Christian Ponder last year, signing Josh Freeman in-season and playing Matt Cassel down the stretch. Freeman definitely won't be back, and of that trio only Cassel is assured of returning after Spielman re-signed him to a two-year, $10 million deal. New Minnesota playcaller Norv Turner has historically played vertical passing offense featuring aggressive, big-armed quarterbacks like Troy Aikman and Philip Rivers.


Norris' options


First day option: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M - There really is not a true vertical passer in the first-round. Manziel is the closest thing, however. Statistically speaking, Manziel completed 70.51% of his throws to targets 11-20 yards downfield, and 55.84% beyond 20 yards, both above average. That improved downfield ability was showcased this season, especially against Alabama. I know Mike Zimmer called Manziel’s pro day a “sideshow,” but we really know nothing in terms of what these teams think about certain prospects.


Second day possibility: Zach Mettenberger, LSU - In 2013, Mettenberger played in a perfect situation. A good offensive line, strong running game, excellent receivers and a coach who would play to his strengths. We know Mett can fire downfield. What needs to be said is the rest of his process has to be sped up (recognition, decision, release) since his movement can be slow. I do worry about his effectiveness after being moved off the initial spot, but I admire Mettenberger’s willingness to take a hit while delivering a pass.


Third day flier: Tom Savage, Pitt - Perhaps no quarterback has generated more buzz from respected evaluators in recent weeks. Savage was in a fairly poor situation in 2013 from an offensive line perspective, but he did have very good receivers. There are flashes of great and flashes of terrible. As Chris B. Brown put it, Savage is “fool’s gold” for evaluators due to a big arm and inconsistencies that can partially be attributed to his supporting cast. He is a quarterback worth investing in on the third day, however.


Video: Norris on Minnesota's top need


No. 2 Team Need: Defensive Back


Silva's analysis


The arrival of playmaking slot corner Captain Munnerlyn and healthy return of free safety Harrison Smith will go a long way toward stabilizing Minnesota's secondary. But the Vikes remain deficient at outside cornerback opposite Xavier Rhodes, and strong safety Jamarca Sanford is a replacement-level talent. Intriguing flier pickup Derek Cox is really a rehab project after flopping in San Diego. Corners in Mike Zimmer's defense must be able to press at the line of scrimmage and re-route receivers. Zimmer prefers a true center fielder at free safety, and a thumper in the box.


Norris' options


First day option: S Calvin Pryor, Louisville - I don’t expect the Vikings to select Pryor at No. 8, but the decision makers showed last year they are willing to trade draft picks. I have said that Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is a viable top-10 talent, however, his style does not really fit what Evan wrote in terms of a “thumper in the box.” Pryor played a lot of single high or deep safety, which asked him to cover too much ground. He missed tackles when aggressively filling the box, but safety prospects have been able to overcome this in recent years.


Second day possibility: CB Pierre Desir, Lindenwood - Desir is more of a third-round option. He played a good amount of off coverage in college, which helped with his recognition and closing ability, but he projects best to press. Desir dominated his level of football and had a strong performance at the East-West Shrine. Some teams might not love that he will be 24 in September.


Third day flier: CB Walt Aikens, Liberty - Another big bodied edge corner (6’1/205) who transferred from Illinois. Aikens played press and off coverage and will project best with the former. He is athletic in his movement and does not mind sticking close to receivers in their breaks.



No. 3 Team Need: Guard


Silva's analysis


The Vikings are in good shape at 4-of-5 offensive line positions, but badly need an upgrade on LG Charlie Johnson following his second consecutive abysmal season. Ideally, Minnesota would find a legitimate starting left guard, and demote Johnson into a reserve/swing lineman role. Turner's run games typically emphasize power in the trenches.


Norris' options


First day option: Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA - The pear shaped interior offensive lineman was forced to switch between tackle and guard during his career and projects best to the latter. Su’a-Filo is always looking for someone to hit and will go out of his way to do so. He has both power and movement skills, which can be a difficult combination to find. Su’a-Filo also understands to bend at the knee, absorb and redirect in pass protection.


Second day possibility: Trai Turner, LSU - A young and somewhat inexperienced prospect, Turner surprisingly declared for the draft but has plenty of talent. For a strong and stout prospect he moves very well when trapping or pulling out in space. Some refinement is needed, but that is expected after the first round.


Third day flier: Jon Halapio, Florida - Halapio had questions during his final season, specifically regarding a pectoral injury, and reports have not been great since. However, he looked healthy at the senior bowl and was arguably a top two guard at the event. He has power and strong hands to stop the opponent’s momentum in pass protection. If he drops to the third day it is because of medicals.



Vikings 2014 Draft Picks (8)


First Round (No. 8)

Second Round (No. 40)

Third Round (No. 72)

Third Round (No. 96)

Fourth Round (No. 108)

Fifth Round (No. 148)

Sixth Round (No. 184)

Seventh Round (No. 223)


Current Vikings First-Team Offense

 

QB: Matt Cassel

RB: Adrian Peterson

FB: Jerome Felton

WR: Greg Jennings

WR: Cordarrelle Patterson

TE: Kyle Rudolph

LT: Matt Kalil

LG: Charlie Johnson

C: John Sullivan

RG: Brandon Fusco

RT: Phil Loadholt

 


Current Vikings First-Team Defense

 

LE: Brian Robison

RE: Everson Griffen

DT: Sharrif Floyd

NT: Linval Joseph

MLB: Audie Cole

WLB: Gerald Hodges

SLB: Chad Greenway

LCB: Xavier Rhodes

RCB: Captain Munnerlyn

FS: Harrison Smith

SS: Jamarca Sanford



Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for Rotoworld and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Josh Norris



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