Okay, we're finally going to get back into the football side of things here. I've got a few different things planned for the off-season, but let's take a good look at some of the newest Vikings, starting with the guy that was selected first by the Beloved Purple in last weekend's draft.
Tyrell Johnson was considered by scouts to be one of the two best available safeties in the 2008 NFL Draft, along with Kenny Phillips out of Miami (FL), who was selected with the last pick of Round 1 by the New York Football Giants. While safety might not have looked like an absolute need for the Vikings at first blush, the Vikings could afford to take a chance on someone like Johnson because. . .well, because there just aren't going to be a lot of roster spots available on this year's squad. In addition, with Darren Sharper in the last year of his contract with the Vikings, someone was needed that can be paired with Madieu Williams for the long-term future, and Johnson has all the makings of that guy.
Here is Johnson's NFL.com combine report.
Positives: Adequate size and toughness to play the run and pass in the NFL. ... Good upper-body build, strong inside the box as a wrap-up tackler. ... Smart, hard-working player who leads the defense. ... Good athleticism, showing closing speed to the ball or ballcarrier and nice hops in coverage. ... Adjusts well to the ball in the air. ... Takes good angles to minimize longer plays. ... Brings it hard on special teams.
Negatives: Could be considered a free/strong 'tweener by some teams looking for more of a linebacker mentality in their strong safety or man-cover abilities in their free safety. ... May have the athleticism to handle downfield responsibilities, but looks better reacting to plays in front of him than in man coverage. ... Not really an explosive tackler, catching players as they run by. ... Does not take on blocks often enough. ... Does not always break down in space, allowing ballcarriers to make a cut to get by him.
While the signing of Madieu Williams gave us more of a coverage type of safety, Johnson appears to be more of a strong safety/in the box type. While it doesn't sound like Johnson's coverage skills are all the way there yet, it doesn't appear as though he's Roy Williams or anything, either. He had 13 interceptions in his college career, including six as a senior in 2007, so the ability is clearly there. He sounds like a pretty good Cover-2 safety, which is exactly what we need. I also like the part about his special teams ability, since that's where he's going to be seeing a lot of time in 2008.
Johnson is also very athletic, measuring in at 6' and 205 pounds. He ran a 4.43 40-yard dash at the combine, and his 27 repetitions of the 225-pound bench press were more than any other safety that participated in the Indianapolis workouts.
I'll admit, I didn't know a lot about Tyrell Johnson before last weekend. . .but the more I read about him, the more it appears he's just another good, solid young piece to a defense that's being built for the long haul. It will be exciting to see him on the field on Sundays.
Oh, and if you want to go jersey hunting/ordering, Johnson has been assigned #25.
More news tidbits later on. . .continue enjoying your weekend, everybody!