2015 Draft in Review: Minnesota Vikings
The NFL draft is over and it suddenly seems like a long time to wait for the next meaningful event on the NFL calendar. But frankly we’re still excited trying to break down what it all means for each team and so we’re going to share some of that excitement.
Every team is going to have each pick broken down as well as a look at their undrafted free agents. Let’s take a look at the Minnesota Vikings, a team that likes to hit both value and needs when they draft.
Round 1: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
Seen as the consensus top cornerback prospect by many, but not by College Football Focus, the only people that watched and graded every snap he played in 2014 along, with those of every other cornerback in the FBS. Waynes has elite speed, but that speed doesn’t always translate. Was beaten for 14.9 yards per reception (78th among CBs), was our 44th-graded cornerback overall, and 40th in terms of completion percentage allowed on passes into his coverage this year. We did not have him ranked in the Top 5 of our corner prospects coming in to this draft, and think he was drafted a clear round higher than he should have been given his tape.
Depth Chart Fit: Will depend how fast he gets it. With Rhodes, Robinson and Munnerlyn in place the Vikings can wait on him if they need to, but they’ll want him to claim the No. 2 role.
Round 2: Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA
Kendricks may be the best coverage linebacker in the draft this year. Whether you think the Vikings had players on the roster that could start, or not (in Hodges and Cole), adding a true three-down player in Kendricks, should make the linebacker unit much better, and allow them to transition away from Chad Greenway, who has become a liability on the field. Topped the CFF coverage rankings for inside linebackers, despite being targeted a FBS-high 69 times over the season.
Depth Chart Fit: Should start right away in the middle, with last year’s top pick Anthony Barr and one other, making up their starting trio. Greenway may get the nod, but they would be better served starting Hodges.
Round 3: Danielle Hunter, ED, LSU
A player that could perhaps be best described as a blank canvas, especially as a pass-rusher, Hunter has a lot of physical tools but was not very productive in 2014. He graded poorly as a pass-rusher, notching just 14 total pressures despite 700 snaps of play (Markus Golden from Mizzouri for example notched 61 on just 53 more snaps). Was a very strong run defender, which Mike Zimmer likes from his defensive ends. Only Utah’s Nate Orchard tallied more defensive stops than Hunter’s 50.
Depth Chart Fit: Would be a shock to see him start early, but could find himself in a two-down rotation at DLE with Brian Robison while the team tries to develop his pass-rush.
Round 4: T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pitt
The Vikings struck value gold with Clemmings in the fourth round. He was the highest-graded run-blocking tackle all season by some distance, and allowed just 10 total pressures on the year, one more than Andrus Peat who went mid-way through the first round. Clemmings is already a monster in the run game, but despite those pretty pass-protection metrics he didn’t really face anybody of note this year, and will take more work there to be successful.
Depth Chart Fit: Is too raw as a pass-protector to start early at tackle, but has the power in the run game to potentially get on the field at guard if the Vikings want him on the field.
Round 5: MyCole Pruitt, TE, Southern Illinois
Played just one game against FBS competition, as well as 23 snaps at the Shrine Game, but caught 10 of 11 passes sent his way for 136 yards.
Depth Chart Fit: Kyle Rudolph is entrenched atop the depth chart, but has been injury prone and the Vikings need a contingency plan as a pure TE.
Round 5: Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
Diggs was a good-not-great, player this year at Maryland, notching 796 yards and five touchdowns. He was thrown at 97 times, catching 63 of those passes and dropping six. Was 20th in yards per route run among this draft class at receiver.
Depth Chart Fit: The Vikings not taking a receiver until the fifth round suggest they are legit in their love of Charles Johnson as a starter, but there is opportunity to get as high up this depth chart as you want if you perform (as Johnson himself is evidence). Diggs will have the chance to earn playing time.
Round 6: Tyrus Thompson, OT, Oklahoma
Happy with how Phil Loadholt is working out, the Vikings take another mammoth tackle from Oklahoma. Thompson doesn’t have Loadholt’s length, but he has the same monstrous bulk and ability to punish in the run game. Was merely average in pass protection, allowing only one sack but 14 additional hurries.
Depth Chart Fit: In the final two rounds the Vikings were targeting needs and depth. Thompson was the first shot at stocking the O-line’s cupboards.
Round 6: B.J. Dubose, Louisville
Played as a 3-4 end in Louisville’s system, but at 268lbs projects outside on Minnesota’s 4-man line. Had an excellent run-defense grade for the Cardinals this year, but wasn’t generating pressure often.
Depth Chart Fit: Along with Hunter could see himself playing on early downs at defensive end for the Vikings. Would have potential inside on pass-rushing downs.
Round 7: Austin Shepherd, OT, Alabama
While teams will usually chase tools and potential over production, Austin Shepard graded well against a high level of competition in the SEC. Ohio State’s Joey Bosa got the better of him in the playoff game, but Bosa could be the first overall pick a year from now, and Shepard allowed just one sack all season long. Graded better than Erick Flowers overall, a player who went in the first round.
Depth Chart Fit: Another move for depth, Shepard will likely find a position in camp and ply his trade as a backup.
Round 7: Edmond Robinson, ED, Newberry
Played no games against FBS competition this year and just 20 snaps in the Shrine Game.
Depth Chart Fit: Will fight to make the roster at the tail end of Minnesota’s linebacker list.
Taylor Heinicke, QB, Old Dominion: It wasn’t a vintage quarterback class by any means, but Heinicke was the fourth graded quarterback at CFF, third if you remove Auburn’s Nick Marshall who is now a cornerback. Showed legit promise at times and could prove a fantastic pickup as a UDFA.
Davaris Daniels, WR, Notre Dame: Did not play this year for Notre Dame.
Jordan Leslie, WR, BYU: A deep threat for BYU, almost a third of his targets were deep balls. Flashed big plays but also drops.
Justin Coleman, CB, Tennessee: Graded well, but much of it was against the run. Allowed 58% of targets to be caught.
Gavin Lutman, WR, Pittsburg State: Did not face FBS competition this year.
Blake Renaud, LB/FB, Boise State: Graded well as a linebacker at Boise this year, especially in the run game. Notched 18 defensive stops.
Jack Sherlock, ED, South Dakota State: Played one game against FBS competition this year, 31 snaps against Missouri. Notched two hurries, but graded average.
Steve Tellefsen, S, South Dakota: Played one game against FBS competition this year, was torched by Oregon’s high-octane offense. Surrendered five catches on six targets for 112 yards and a touchdown.
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