Rather than add my voice to the legion of bloggers speculating on the Vikings' first round pick, I'm going to take the draft analysis a step further and preview players the Vikings might take with the 41st overall pick. And in case you're wondering, I'm getting the ideas for players from NFL Draft Countdown, Draft Tek and FF Tool Box. So for all I know, these guys will all be gone in the first round, or will still be available when the Vikings draft in the third round. If it's the latter, let's all pretend this was a third round preview, ok? Thanks.
April 3: Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Ohio St.
April 4: Sidney Rice, WR, South Carolina
April 5: Charles Johnson, DE, Georgia
April 8: Steve Smith, WR, USC
April 10: Brandon Meriweather, S, Miami
April 18: Jason Hill, WR, Washington St.
April 19: Tim Crowder, DE, Texas
April 20: Justin Blalock: OG, Texas
April 23: Robert Meachem: WR, Tennessee
April 24: Craig "Buster" Davis: WR, LSU
April 25: Dwayne Jarrett: WR, USC
April 26: LaMar Woodley: DE, Michigan
Ask and ye shall receive--my first round preview will be up later this afternoon. In it's place this morning, I'm taking a look at LaMar Woodley, the 6'1, 266lb senior defensive end from the University of Michigan.
Woodley was a force to be feared for Michigan, leading a tenacious defense in sacks his last two years there. He has a relentless motor (by the way, who choose "motor" as the cliche to use in this situation? Why wasn't any else consulted?) and has a nose for getting to the QB. And once he gets there, the QB remembers him, since Woodley can just destroy people. He also uses that strength, along with great technique, to make up for his lack of bulk.
That lack of size is probably his biggest drawback. He's small for an end, but doesn't have a linebackers' instincts, despite spending time at the position for the Wolverines. That size disadvantage rears it's head against double teams and bigger tackles, which he'll be working against in the NFL. And scouts question whether he has the speed and burst necessary for smaller defensive ends to excel in the NFL. He turned in a 4.79 forty at the combine, but followed that up with a 4.62 on campus. It seems that he would be an ideal blitzing linebacker in the 3-4, since he is basically your prototypical "tweener".
Woodley will be availble to the Vikings at #41. He would also be available late in the round, whether they choose to trade up or down to secure the pick. I think the Vikings can get better value with their second rounder than Woodley, whether it's by drafting a different defensive end or by choosing a wide receiver. One of the keys to the draft is getting players that will fit your system. Woodley's lack of size and good but not great speed would be problematic in the Viking's scheme.