Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Get to Know 'Em: Brandon Meriweather

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

If the Vikings want to get first round talent in the second round, their best bet is to draft Brandon Meriweather, a senior safety out of the University of Miami. Disregarding the fact that the Vikings are being investigated by the Attorney General for a Safety monopoly, something all those mock drafts with LeRon Landry going #7 have already done, there are some slight issues that may cause the Purple to pass on a player that could be their version of Sean Taylor.

Before we get into Meriweather's issues, it's best that we talk about what he would bring to the table. He has the speed necessary to be a returner (4.48 forty), the tackling ability of a strong safety and the coverage skills necessary to play any position in the secondary, something he did for the Hurricanes. He has great hands and routinely put the fear of God into receivers as they came across the middle. You can expect him to score touchdowns for the Purple, whether it's by returning interceptions or kicks. And to top it all off, he is reported to have a great work ethic and was seen by the 'Canes as one of the leaders of their defense. Quite simply, he has the potential to be a Pro Bowler for the Vikings for the next 10 years.

Like all prospects, however, he has his drawbacks. Durability is an issue, due to how he throws himself around on the field. There are also some small character issues, such as how he starred in the FIU-Miami brawl as the "Cane Stomper", a role he played to perfection by kicking and stomping an FIU player on the ground. He also has issues with his aim, as his return fire failed to hit an assailant who shot his roommate. The gun he used was legally owned and was used only in self defense, but it forces the Vikings to decide whether it was an isolated incident or something likely to reoccur due to poor choices by Meriweather.

It's the answer to that question, as well as his conduct during the FIU-Miami brawl that will determine where Meriweather is drafted. If a team is willing to overlook them, Meriweather could go as high as the mid first round. If teams are worried about those issues, he could fall past the Vikings to the mid second round. I don't see Zygi and the new look Vikings taking a chance on Meriweather, but if they feel the brawl was a heat of the moment incident, and his return fire an isolated matter of self defense, his talent would be awfully hard to pass up.

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