With the college season starting to wrap up, scouts are starting to finish up their initial reports on seniors. Some only have a game or two left depending on if they are in a bowl or not. Its still too early to know exactly which rounds guys are going to be drafted or which juniors are going to declare, but it is a good time to start keeping your eyes on a few players. Here are 7 seniors who I think, (and one or two I know) the Vikings are looking at and where it looks like they will be taken in the 2010 draft. Plus some juniors to watch if they declare. Critical assumption: We are doing this based on the Vikings having one of the last 4 picks in each round.
1. George Selvie, OLB, USF 6'4'' 250 - Normally, I wouldn't think to look at Selvie, who has been considered a 3-4 OLB by most scouting sites since he was a junior. However, via SB Nations Mocking the Draft, there is a link to Chris Steuber of Scouts.com's twitter page where Chris states he knows the Vikings are interested in him. This got me asking, "Why would the Vikings be interested in a college DE that is considered too small to play DE in the NFL and most consider a 3-4 OLB?". The conclusion I come to is that most 3-4 OLB would actually make good to great SAM LBs in a 4-3 scheme. Need an example? Ben Leber played OLB for 2 years in San Diego's 3-4 (In the years before that San Diego ran a 4-3) before coming to Minnesota. He wasn't overly successful at it, but he was used more in coverage it seems than rushing the QB. Both Leber and Selvie have similar size, but Selvie is considered a much better athlete. One knock I can think of is that since he plays DE for USF, he doesn't have much experience in coverage and right now there isn't a way to tell how good he would be covering WRs , TEs, and RBs, but he definitely has the athletic ability to do so. He came into his senior season as the active NCAA leader in tackles for loss and second in sacks for active players. He also came into the season as a first round prospect, but while he has had a good season, it hasn't been up to most peoples expectations and his DE teammate, JR. Jason Pierre-Paul, has been getting way more ink and praise. Here is a link to a ESPN Draft Lab were KC Joyner uses his metrics system to evaluate Selvie. You have to be a Insider to read it all, but if you arent, I will try to post what it says in the comments, but I don't know it that is something that would be able to stay up (i.e. after the Nostradamus posting last week, I wouldn't want to put something here to make Gonzo have to delete the whole post). Either way: Joyner's metrics make Selvie look like a good player.
2. Dan Williams, DT Tennessee 6'3'' 327 - Here is a guy I am very intrigued with. There doesn't seem to be any real consensus on where he should be drafted. He is #21 on Mel Kipers Big Board, but then over at the Nation Football Post, he doesn't even make the top ten draftable DTs. I think he will be closely watched by the Vikings and Minnesota fans for a couple of reasons. 1) He is about the same size as Pat Williams and is considered to be athletic, 2) He currently plays Phat Pats position in Tennessee, 3)Tennessee runs the same defense that Minnesota runs and is coached by the guy who taught Fraizer (and everyone else) the Tampa 2, Monte Kiffin. As it looks right now, he is a younger version of Phat Pat and would be a great choice as the heir to his position.
3. Greg Hardy, DE Ole Miss, 6'5'' 275 - Even if the Vikings get Ray Edwards to sign back with the team (funny how well he is playing in the contract year, but the year he proclaims he will break the sack record he only got 5 with 3 coming in the last 2 games, but I digress) the depth at the position seems thin. With Ray Edwards, having Brian Robison and Jayme Mitchell as rotation guys sounds pretty good. But with out Ray, that just doesn't seem good enough. Hardy is a guy that is going to drop a lot because of his injury concerns, but he has tremendous ability when he is healthy and could be used as a situational player as he lets his body heal and continue to develop for the NFL.
4. Jon Asamoah, OG Illinois 6'5'' 315 - While the O-line is playing great and the Vikings have two players who fill in as back ups very well in Hicks and Cooks, I wouldn't want those back-ups starting and while Herrera can still be called young, Hutch is on the wrong side of 30. Asamoah is very similar to Hutch in size and athletic ability, and plays in a zone blocking offense, but he could use some time to develop into a full time NFL starter. He could step in as a guy who can fill in for injury early in his career as he gets ready for a full time starting spot.
5. Walter Thurmond III, CB Oregon 6' 183 - Walter has been one of the best corners in the PAC-10 since his sophomore year. He has excelled in zone coverage and as a return man, however, the reason he drops here is because while he is good at every thing, he isn't elite at anything and he has some injury concerns. Before he was injured this season, he was on the Jim Thorpe Award (Nations best DB) watch list and returned two punts for touchdowns. He was considered better in college than his former teammate and current Buffalo Bill Jariyus Byrd who has been a revelation for that defense.
6. Jeron Masturd, TE Kansas State 6'6'' 253 - Another luxury pick for the Vikings as they don't have many holes to fill (at least until FA starts after the season). TE is another position the Vikings are getting kind of old at and could use another TE that can excel at blocking. Jeron has the size and ability to be a good blocker in the NFL and his size would be a benefit in the red zone.
7. Bobby McClintock, FB/RB Portland State 5'10'' 240 - Plays in a run and shoot system that has him work more as a runner than a blocker. Bobby is a bowling ball running up field and has very reliable hands in the passing game. could develop into a FB who also can sub in for Peterson and deliver punishment to defenders that would wear them down more as the game goes on.
Here are some other guys to keep your eye on:
Ryan Mallett, QB Arkansas 6'6'' 220 - Ryan is a very talented 3rd year sophomore who could declare and would be worthy of 1st round consideration. In one year at Arkansas, he is already setting a lot of the schools passing records and he is similar to Joe Flacco in size and ability. I think with the talent already on the Vikings roster, they could be led effectively, just like Flacco did for the Ravens last year.
Ryan Mathews/ Toby Gerhart, RBs Fresno State/Stanford, 5'11'' 220/6'1'' 235 - I like both of these guys for the same reason. In the hypothetical situation where Chester Taylor doesn't stay with the Vikings for whatever reason (IMO his vaule is with the Vikings and he won't actively leave), the Vikings should look at a RB to compliment Peterson or contribute if he should somehow get hurt (God forbid). Harvin and/or Young can serve has the fast/scat back option and either one of these guys could serve as the battering ram that hammers down defenses, making them wish the game would just end. Both are big backs that deal out punishment and both are having fantastic seasons for their teams.
Ras-I Dowling, CB Virginia 6'2'' 200 - Ras is considered one of the best Jr. coverage corners who is also physical in the run game. Fits very well into a Tampa 2 system, but still has a year of eligibility.
Austen Lane, DE Murray State 6'7'' 270 - My favorite cliche is "You can't teach size" and Lane is a great example of that. He dominates the FCS level because of his size, but could use some time to develop at the NFL level. Still has a ton of athletic ability and could add some depth to the DE position while spending some time developing.