Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A Pessimist's Take on the Draft--Part 2

Yesterday, in an effort to keep my enthusiasm to a dull roar, I evaluated the Vikings' first four picks in the most negative way possible. To avoid confusion, I am ecstatic about the players the Vikings' drafted and I think they can make a big impact this upcoming season--I just don't want to be crushed if they play like the rookies they are.

#146 Aundrae Allison

With their fifth round pick the Vikings drafted a speed demon (4.39 forty) ,out of East Carolina. Of course, there are usually reasons why fast wide receivers last until the fifth round. In this case, they include a lack of season due to spending two years at junior college, poor work ethic, lack of toughness and some major concentration issues. 44 drops in one season is pretty Troy Williamson-esque, I'd have to say. That's not a good sign when he has questions about his commitment to football, stemming from the numerous times he was late to practices, workouts and meetings over the course of his college career. Scouts seem to think with proper coaching he can develop good habits, but let's be honest here--that rarely happens. And he needs those good habits to develop his route running and hands.

#176 Rufus Alexander

Alexander seems to be tailor made for the Cover-2. He's got great vision, good speed (4.62) and is better operating in space. And if he wasn't good in space, he'd be in trouble, since he lacks the strength and bulk to mix it up in the trenches. If he gets double teamed, he won't get out of it. And even in space there are problems with his game. His hands are such that errant passes in his zone are will be batted down just like he's Napoleon Harris wearing a cast. His motor is good, but his focus wanes when the play goes away from him and he tends to take out any frustration he feels on the opposing team, which sounds good, but usually ends with yellow on the field.

#217 Tyler Thigpen & #233 Chandler Williams

The Vikings obviously see something in Thigpen and Williams, but realistically neither of them will ever see much playing time for the Purple outside of special teams. Thigpen has one year of running an offense that wasn't copied from 1980s Nebraska and that was at the DI-AA level. If you think Tarvaris is a project, at least he spent four years running a modern style attack. Williams has potential as a returner, but he also has potential as an enforcer, since he played a prominent role in the Miami-FIU brawl and was consequently suspended. Which is nice, seeing as how the Vikings and NFL seem to be cracking down on that kind of thing.

#XX Offensive Lineman

You may have noticed that the Vikings did not draft an offensive lineman. This may have confounded you, seeing as how the Vikings' offensive line, particularly the right side of it, had some troubles last year. Of the linemen Brad Childress tried on the right side, only Ryan Cook, Marcus Johnson and Artis Hicks remain and none of them were able to play well enough last year to inspire confidence in their ability to produce this year. So naturally, the Vikings didn't pick any linemen to compete for the job, or at the very least, to add depth to an area that will likely have a decent amount of turnover. And it's not like Matt Birk is a young guy--he turns 31 this year and is in his eleventh season.

[Thus concludes my pessimistic take on the Vikings' draft. I think they added a lot of quality players, but as you can see, each of them have their question marks and flaws. Whether or not they turn into productive players depends on their own work ethic and the coaching they receive. If the Vikings are going to be successful this year, however, their going to need a lot of help from their rookies.]

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