[With Free Agency all but over, it's time to take a look at who the Vikings might select in the first round with the #17 pick. Today, we're previewing Chris Williams, an offensive tackle from Vanderbilt. Previously, I previewed Derrick Harvey, a defensive end from Florida and Chris Williams, an offensive tackle from Vanderbilt]
By signing Bernard Berrian, the Vikings seemed to have solved their problems at wide receiver, allowing them to focus on other positions with their first round pick. With the #17 pick, however, the Purple need to be willing to take the best player available. Focusing on need, rather than talent, leads to draft picks like Troy Williamson. Focusing on talent rather than need, leads to draft picks like Adrian Peterson. Enough said there.
Because of that, the Vikings need to be willing to draft a receiver in the first round if that receiver is the best player available. And there is a good possibility that Malcolm Kelly, a wide receiver out of Oklahoma, will be the best player available to the Vikings, something they seem to understand, as he is scheduled to visit Winter Park on April 10th. Kelly is a 6'3, 224 pound junior, with good speed, great hands and the ability be a big time play maker in the mold of Larry Fitzgerald.
Kelly had good but not great stats at Oklahoma, never breaking the 1000 yard mark, but averaging 55 catches for over 900 yards and more than 9 touchdowns his final two years. What was impressive was how he wrote his name all over the Oklahoma record books. He is the school's fifth-leading receiver with 144 catches, is second all time for receiving yardage (2,285), touchdown catches (21) and games with at least 100 yards receiving (nine). His 21 scoring receptions also rank tied for seventh in Big Twelve Conference history. His stats were impressive for their context, that of an offense that focused on the run (more than understandable, considering they had Adrian Peterson for the first two years he was there, and a freshman quarterback his final year.). Of course, that meant he learned how to block, something he is pretty good at. Kelly also showed why his hands are considered the best in the draft class, as he dropped only one pass in two years. In doing so, he also demonstrated superb body control by being able to adjust to almost any throw.
While he's not a speed demon, Kelly has more than enough speed to be a deep threat. His forty time is around 4.5 seconds, and he was used as the Sooners primary deep threat. So while he has the size and strength to fight off a jam at the line, the ability to go over the middle, and the soft hands you'd want in a possession receiver, he's not limited by his speed in the way Dwayne Jarret or Keyshawn Johnson were. He's also considered a superb route runner, who, despite have long strides, is able to get low into his breaks (rare for taller receivers) and explode out of them. And once gets the ball in the open field, he's going to be able to break a lot of tackles due to his size and strength.
Kelly appears to be the complete package, but there are some question marks. He 1asn't been able to work out at the combine because of a thigh injury, and he has had problems with minor injuries, causing him to miss the majority of three separate games his last two years. Kelly also had a tendency to go long stretches without impacting the game. Whether that was due to his own lack of focus or the Sooners focus on the run is up in the air.
With only a few minor question marks, and lots of talent and potential, Malcolm Kelly is the best receiver in the draft. If he is available to the Vikings with the 17th pick, and their top choice at defensive end and offensive tackle are gone, they should strongly consider drafting him, no matter what Brad Childress thinks about drafting receivers in the first round.
Also, Malcom Kelly can rap. And yes, this video does move him to the top of my draft board.