[Solving Our Problems is an ongoing series here at the Ragnarok where I evaluate the Vikings' options going into the offseason. I started by looking at the quarterback options, examining Derek Anderson, Donovan McNabb and possible backups for Tarvaris Jackson. I've tried to figure out who the QB is going to throw to, starting with free agents Bernard Berrian and Donte Stallworth, and taken a detour to look at a safety the Vikings might sign, Madieu Williams. While detouring, I figured that it might be worth it to look at another QB the Vikings might end up with, Sage Rosenfels. Now that free agency is all but over, it's time to look at some of the Vikings' draft options, starting with Derrick Harvey, a junior end from Florida.]
Derrick Harvey, a redshirt junior out of Florida, is perhaps the best defensive end that could be available to the Vikings (I've yet to see a mock draft where Chris Long or Vernon Gholston drops out of the top ten). He's almost 6'5, weighs about 271 lbs and is cat quick, something he demonstrated in his last two years at Florida, where he racked up 11 sacks and 13 tackles for a loss his sophomore year and 8.5 sacks and 17 tackles for a loss his junior year. His junior year production was enough to lead the Gators in both sacks and tackles, and both totals were fifth in the SEC, despite being the main focus of opposing teams pass protection schemes. He has a reputation as a good run stopper as well, as can be seen by how many tackles he made in the backfield.
Harvey isn't perfect, however. 271 is undersized for a defensive end (though not undersized for the Vikings, where he would be the third heaviest end, behind Keneci Udeze and Jayme Mitchell) and his 4.83 forty time isn't great. Neither his weight, nor his forty time are worth worrying about. While he was overpowered by larger tackles at times, he was still very productive despite facing tackles that weighed an average of 311 pounds. And he's shown that he can put on weight, as he entered college weighing only 235 pounds. Of course, if he adds too much weight, he'll lose the main reason for his success: his quickness. His forty time doesn't stick out, but that doesn't matter as much as his initial first step, something scouts are raving about.
Harvey has the quickness, the production and the upside that you want in your first round pick. He would also help address a position of need for the Purple, and could have an impact in his rookie year, just like another speed demon who left Florida early after winning a national title in his redshirt sophomore year.
[If you're looking for draft information, I recommend NFL Draft Countdown and NFL Draft Scout, both of which are also linked on the sidebar.]