Before I begin I'd just like to say I'm a little more conservative when handing out grades. While my credentials are no more than just being a fan I feel too many times when handing out initial draft grades people hand out too many A's, too easily. I feel people are too quick to give everyone B's as well. I'm no scout but I don't get why people feel the need to give every pick that make an ounce of sense a B like you'll see elsewhere. You won't see that from me unless the picks actually deserves it. I think you need to be more critical and let them prove their potential before you give them all A's and B's. You'll see a few C grades, but don't view that as a negative mark. It's not that it's necessarily a bad pick, that's just what I consider my grade for average, because I just don't see every pick deserving of a B and very few I feel are actual A's.There are only so many blue chip prospects in a draft. While a lot of the players have potential but never reach it. Just go look back on Wikipedia at any year's previous draft and you'll see just how many picks actually pan out. And so without further ado lets get to my pick by pick grades...
Matt Kalil, LT, USC
I'll keep this one short and sweet because I think we all know what kind of a player we can expect to get out of Kalil. He's an elite prospect, the can't miss type. Has NFL bloodlines and if he becomes half the pro his brother Ryan Kalil is I'll be happy. Though I think the general consensus is he'll surpass him. I hope he lives up to his expectations that he's as good as Joe Thomas. I really do! Though I would settle for a D'Brickashaw Ferguson-type player if that's what he ended up developing into. Yes I said develop because while he may be one of the few blue chip prospects and one of the best LT's to come out in years he's still going to need to develop. I'm sure playing opposite Jared Allen in practicing with one of the NFL's best pass rushers will help him hone his skills though. As others have said, this pick allows us to slide Charlie Johnson back inside to his natural guard spot, making it a 2-for-1 in terms of filling needs, and that will give Ponder better protection overall, though Loadholt will sure have a say in that, next year.
Harrison Smith, SS/FS, Notre Dame
A versatile safety who can play both safety spots in the Vikings' Tampa-2 scheme. He has the versatility required to play a two-high and go out there and roam the back half to defend the deep ball and he can come up and break down well and tackle in the box or in those crucial open field tackle situations when he's the last line of defense against a ball carrier that breaks free through the front seven. He was the leading tackler for Notre Dame and finished with 309 career tackles, 18-1/2 tackles for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles, 28 pass breakups, and seven interceptions (all 7 INTs came in his junior year in 2010). He is the only Fighting Irish player in history to register at least 200 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 15 pass breakups.
Maybe one of the more important parts to his game is his ability to match up and handle tight ends in the middle of the field which is going to be more and more important with the emerging tight ends like Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, and Jermichael Finley. At the end of the day he's only one-eleventh of our defense but he'll have a bigger impact than that. He was a two-time team captain at Notre Dame and he'll be a similar leader for this Vikings defense. He'll get our defense lined up in the right place. He can read and predict what an offense is running with his high football I.Q. and he has the instincts and athletic ability to make breaks on passes to knock them down or get turnovers. He'll get us off the field on 3rd downs. Many have compared him to the very underrated Eric Weddle and if he lives up to that billing we just found ourselves an impact player at the safety position.
Josh Robinson, CB, UCF
He's a height-weight-speed specimen, emphasis on SPEED since he was the fastest man (4.32) at the NFL scouting combine, but despite the physical traits he would've benefited from staying in school for another year. If he had though he likely would've been a 1st round pick and so we got someone that has the upside and talent level to be a 1st rounder with a 3rd round pick, 66th overall, which is solid value if he reaches his potential.
Robinson played in 38 games and started 35 over three seasons at Central Florida, recording 176 tackles (138 solo), 10 interceptions and 36 pass break-ups. He was a first-team all-Conference USA selection as a junior, ranking fourth in the nation with 1.42 passes defended per game.
GM Rick Spielman feels it's his upside and athletic ability to his game that has him believing that one day he'll be a star corner in this league. " ... His athletic skillset when you watch [him] on tape and watch his feet and watch his cover-ability [on] some of the plays really stand out because of those unique athletic traits," Spielman said. "When you look at his tape he has some unique cover skills [that fits what we like to do]. He does have the foot speed, the quickness, how he can flip his hips, the burst out of his transition to close back underneath, the anticipation and that unique trait as far as anticipating when a receiver's going to break and his ability to get out of his transition and close to the ball."
He also pointed out that Robinson's speed will come in to play when, "... Sometimes, just like [all] DBs [tend to do], you'll [see] him maybe bite on a double move but just watching his recovery speed if they do get a step on him and how quickly he can recover, those are some of the unique traits that he does have." It's clear Spielman believes in his ability and feels comfortable that he's ready to come into the NFL and play now, and Robinson showed no lack of confidence in his readiness to play at the next level either.
In his own words, "I can react quickly. I have a quick reaction, and of course everyone has speed at the next level so I never really say that as a strength, but I always tell everybody that I'm versatile, whether it be man, zone, anything. That's something that I've done at UCF. ... My primary motivation [for coming out early] was that I could get it done, that I had the ability to be a shutdown corner, one of the best corners to play the game," he said. "So, that's something that really motivated me to want to pursue this career and try to accomplish my goals. ... I'm just thankful that they did draft me, to give me that opportunity to prove to the world that I can get it done, that I come from a great school that's really prepared me to face anything, any team, any program, especially playing under coach George O'Leary."
Since taking over the program in 2004, O'Leary has taken that UCF team to new heights. The veteran head coach has molded his program into a consistent winner helping UCF arrive on the national scene. Prior to coming to UCF, O'Leary served on Minnesota's NFL coaching staff for two seasons. In 2003, he was the Vikings' defensive coordinator. In his first season with the team in 2002, he guided the defensive line into becoming the strength of the Minnesota defense. He also served as the squad's assistant head coach.
While I don't totally disagree with either Spielman or Robinson that he can come in and contribute early I am a little bit more skeptical that he's ready to come in and start right away. He'll probably get a long look at right cornerback in the offseason --- and there's no doubt in my mind that he'll one day end up as a future starter there -- but it's not likely that he'll end up being a Day 1 starter as a rookie. He'll need some time to develop but with Alan William's coaching he'll be playing sooner rather than later. I think he'll contribute next season and start in his second season.
Jarius Wright, WR/PR, Arkansas
Okay so he's a bit small in stature but the kid is an extremely gifted athlete and a electric playmaker. Last season Wright led the SEC in receiving yards and touchdown catches, with 1,117 and 12, respectively. Of course if he led the conference he was also Arkansas’ leading receiver in 2011 and was also chosen as a First-Team All-SEC performer. Simply put he was one of the most explosive players in the country. All I keep hearing about is how Arkansas receivers are heralded for being pro ready. Arkansas' offense features many of the same things we see in the NFL so he's already ahead of the curve having some experience with NFL route trees. That will only help in his readiness to come in and learn the playbook which has me hoping he'll be competitive on the next level right away.
He's a guy who runs great sharp routes, has sure hands, and explosive speed to separate and take it the distance. He was a burner down the seams, constantly beating coverage over the top and he's got some of the same quick-twitch traits, not so much unlike our own Percy Harvin has, which makes plugging Wright into that multifaceted slot role on offense a good possibility if he's ready to step in and play. Of course the Vikings do have one of the best slot receivers in the NFL in Percy Harvin, but having Wright in the fold allows the Vikings to be more creative in how they deploy Harvin within the offense. He’s also a lot like Mario Manningham in that he’s a small guy who can play flanker and make acrobatic catches down the field along the sideline, but he’s unlike Manningham at the same time because he goes over the middle and makes tough catches in traffic. Jarius Wright is a much better prospect than Manningham was. He could be the next Victor Cruz or Antonio Brown, both of whom averaged more than 16 yards per catch last season. Big things could be in store for this rookie.
I'm hearing many fans complaining and making excuses for why we shouldn't have drafted him. Well enough is enough. Yes we have Harvin who's a similar player but that doesn't mean we couldn't use another slot type guy. After all, What's better than one Harvin... two Harvins! Let's not forget that Percy Harvin has missed a lot of time so far in his career with migraine headache attacks (sleep apnea) and when he's gone out the offense just hasn't looked the same. Jarius also provides an insurance policy for Harvin's recent procedure, he underwent shoulder surgery in this offseason, because we don't want another Sidney Rice type of situation where our best receiver can't go and now we're screwed. You just never know when Percy's suddenly not going to be able to go but with Jarius we won't have to worry as much as we now have a guy that can come in and bring some of the same things.
He'll also help out on special teams as a returner giving Percy breathers there as well. Last year Joe Adams, who is really, really good as a return guy, took over those duties so Wright didn't get that many opportunities as a returner in 2011. Watch for him to get that returner role back most likely in his rookie year as Wright figures to be the front-runner for punt-return duties right away. He could be a star in that role for the Vikings much like Harvin was as a rookie. Trust me, the first time Jarius takes one to the house in a game as a receiver or a returner nobody will care how high we drafted him, how tall he is, or the fact he's not so much unlike Harvin. (seriously, why is that a bad thing? I view it as a positive) They'll find a way to get them both involved in the game plan. That's a good problem to have.
Rhett Ellison, TE/H-back/FB/Special Teams, USC
Initially I thought it was a little early to get a player like this. Ahh... Who am I kidding? I still do think that. Ellison himself said he wasn't expecting to get drafted despite the Vikings showing interest in him at the NFL Scouting Combine. Ellison's own father, Riki, who played in the NFL even cautioned him that he should prepare for another career. I think people view this as a replacement for Jimmy Kleinsasser but I view him as a solid all around player, who's versatile enough to catch the ball as well as block, albeit not as good as K-Sauce, but I do agree he'll play that H-back type role that K-Sauce filled gloriously for so many years.
I think when comparing Ellison's game to former Vikings though the comparison I like best is Jermaine Wiggins. Not sure if many of you will remember Wiggins, although he did lead the Vikings in receptions in 2004 and 2005, he never did manage to find a niche under coach Brad Childress before he asked for and was granted his release. Before then though he was one of Culpepper's favorite targets, especially on check downs when he wasn't bombing it to Randy Moss. When Wiggins played for the Vikings he was one of my favorite players, though that probably had more to do with the fact he looked so funny when he would hurdle over defenders or for his quirky touchdown celebrations, he did play a pretty big part in our offense back then.
But before I get too far off topic I believe the biggest area Ellison is going to be heard from is on special teams where Ellison earned first team All-Pac-12 honors for his role at as a Senior. "It was awesome for the coaches to recognize," Ellison said. "They noticed me on special teams." He has only 53 career catches -- 21 for 239 yards and three touchdowns in 2010 and 22 for 133 yards and two touchdowns in 2011 -- but while his stats may not jump out at you he's got the ability and size at 6'5" 250 to likely catch a few more passes than K-Sauce did in his career but that's if, and only if, he can make it in the pros. Bottom line with this pick: I'm not upset with the player per se but the slot he was selected at (128th overall in the 4th round) has me questioning the pick.
Greg Childs, WR, Arkansas
All these Arkansas players... when did Jerry Jones take over as our GM? (kidding ) I find this pick to be very underrated actually. Childs as a sophomore, had 48 receptions for 894 yards and seven scores. The next year he had 46 catches for 659 yards and six scores through only eight games (!) before a patellar tendon injury knocked him out for the final five contests. Don't look at his stats last year as any indication of the kind of player he is. Childs was very quiet in 2011, and it looked like he hadn't fully recovered from hurting his knee the year before, at least not til towards the end of the season.
A lifelong Arkansas Razorbacks fan, and fellow Viking fan, told me that when he saw we took two receivers from the Razorbacks he was very excited for what's to come because he knows just how good they can be. He said, "I've watched a lot of games, and trust me, these guys can play. Two years ago with [Ryan] Mallett, Greg Childs was the #1 receiver and nearly unstoppable. He's a big receiver, with really, really great hands and body control. He made a ton of really tough catches, and was a go to guy in clutch situations. He got hurt, and came back too soon last year, because he wanted to play. If he would have had a normal year last year, there's no way he would have gone later than the 2nd round. I truly believe that he has a chance to be a pro bowl WR in this league. He ran really fast at the pro day, which surprised me. When he's back to 100%, watch out for this guy."
Well you're probably thinking what does this guy know, after all he's just a fan, but GM Rick Spielman shared a lot fo the same opinions on him. "If you watched him in 2010 in the Auburn game and some of the other games that he did play in, some of the big catches that he made in the Alabama game, we felt that we got great value with him there. I think the reason he fell is because he didn't play as well this year, didn't have as productive of a year. But I know how long it takes to come back from a patellar injury. Seeing him at the East-West, seeing him workout this spring, seeing him at the combine, he looks fully, 100 percent healthy. And looking to get a player that we saw in 2010 and 2009 with that big outside receiver that does have big-play ability."
Had he not gotten hurt he could've been a Day 2 selection making him a very solid value in Day 3. Since we got him with one of the compensatory selections at the end of the 4th round (134 overall) which we received for losing Sidney Rice and considering when at full health he plays like a 1st or 2nd round pick maybe one day Childs' upside will allow him to replace what we lost in Rice. I like how we're getting players with 1st round talent and hoping that one day they'll reach their potential. It's this kind of upside that has me excited for many of our picks including Childs, who is gradually showing that he is improving from his knee injury. At the Arkansas pro day, Childs wowed Viking coaches and scouts when he burned a blazing fast 40 at 4.41 (Vikings hand timed him at 4.39), jumped 40.5" in the vertical, and 127" in the broad jump. He wasn't as fast at the NFL Scouting Combine (4.55) but if he's starting to show some of his old form that's a good sign for things to come.
In his own words, "I'm just ready to get out on the field and compete," Childs said. "In Minnesota, I'm here to do it all. I'm going to learn the whole playbook so I can play every position. [At Arkansas] I lined up all over the place, inside, outside receiver. I'll play any position they put me at. I'm truly Blessed and I'm proud to be a Viking." And I'll reiterate what I mentioned above with the Jarius Wright pick. All I keep hearing about is how Arkansas receivers are heralded for being pro ready. Arkansas' offense features many of the same things we see in the NFL so that will only help in him being ready to come in and learn the playbook. The only negative to Child's game that I could notice is he tends to body catch at times but that's just a coaching point and I'm sure that Vikings' WRs coach George Stewart, an Arkansas alum actually, can get him to break that bad habit.
If he makes it fully back to good health, and Spielman and his staff believes he may already be there, he should be able to come in right away and be the kind of player he was before the injury. His experience at Arkansas gives me hope that he'll be able to come in and be competitive on the next level right away. If that happens we got a absolute steal! He could have his best football yet ahead of him and I hope he reaches that potential because if he does we'll have sort of made out like bandits with this pick.
Robert Blanton, S/CB, Notre Dame
We all know he was only drafted because he played at Notre Dame. The Vikings continue to load up on former Notre Dame players and now have five former Golden Domers. While we can use all the help we can get in the secondary, especially at safety, I'm simply not a fan of this pick. The more competition the better, sure, but there were far better prospects out there at the time. A name that comes to mind is Antonio Allen the safety from South Carolina. He was at least graded as high as a 2nd rounder leading up to the draft and when he was still there in the 5th I thought for sure he would be the pick. I know this isn't the time nor the place for discussion on who we should have drafted so I'll get back to the pick and try to talk a little about what I like or dislike about him.
To be honest I don't know much about this kid but from what I hear and have read he's good in coverage but slow. Great so now we got someone who knows how to play but he just can't compete at a NFL level. All joking aside Spielman believes he gives us versatility as a press-zone corner or safety. "The speed was somewhat a concern." Spielman said, "But I know he's a sure tackler." He will likely end up at safety because of his lack of speed but it doesn't matter to Blanton. In his own words "[There's] no real big difference between safety and corner. You still have to cover a guy and you still have to tackle when it comes time to tackle. You have to make plays on the ball in the air and you have to be a football player." Well thanks for that brilliant revelation Blanton. I feel so much better now.
Blanton (6-0¾, 208) has played in 50 games with 26 starts over four seasons with the Irish so he does have solid experience. How did he perform though? Blanton has eight interceptions, 16 pass break-ups and 195 tackles (125 solo, 20½ for loss). Solid production I guess. Blanton did say he got plenty of experience on special teams at Notre Dame. Well he better get use to it because I don't see him getting on the field much outside of special teams.
Blair Walsh, K, Georgia
It’s no secret that Ryan Longwell’s days are numbered in the NFL. He'll turn 38 in August and in 2011, he converted on only 76 percent of his field goals, his worst percentage since 2005. Although it’s unlikely that a 16th-year veteran kicker like Longwell couldn't beat a rookie kicker in a camp battle and hold him off from replacing him there is a chance this is precisely what happens with the Vikings in a full fledged youth movement. Rosters spots are a premium and it's unwise to carry two kickers. Things will get interesting when they start making roster cuts that's for sure. I believe the team has to start looking towards the future at this position, as well as any, and it may be time to move on. If they do decide to carry two (why when we're not contenders and it makes no sense to hold onto the veteran) Walsh can still come in for those 50+ yard attempts -- plus kickoff duties -- early on in his career and eventually take over for Longwell as the full time kicker on all field goals attempts later. Either way with this pick we got the future at the position settled as long as he pans out, of course.
While his stats slumped as a senior, last year his previous statlines, where he missed only 13 kicks in his first three seasons combined, are a better indicator for the kind of potential he brings.
- 20-of-23 field goal attempts, (6-7 on 40+ attempts) with his career long of 53 yards.
- 20-of-22 on field goal attempts (11-12 on 40+ attempts)
- 15-of-23 field goal attempts (5-9 on 40+ attempts) (2-5 from 50+)
Walsh was a finalist for the Lou Groza Award in 2009 and a semifinalist in 2010. Even in a down year he was voted All-SEC First Team by SEC Coaches in 2011. Throughout his senior year at Georgia, Walsh ranked second in the SEC in field goals per game at 1.54 but his productivity overall was down as he converted on only 21-of-35 field-goal attempts. I want to point out a good amount of his missed FGs in 2011 were 50+ attempts though. 35 attempts as a senior vs. 22 and 23 the year before is evidence that once he started making some long ones that Coach Richt would try, because he was confident enough in his leg to let it rip from 60+, even when its just a coin flip that he makes it at those distances.
While Walsh did set the all-time SEC scoring record by notching 412 points for his career in the Outback Bowl, he missed two field-goal attempts in overtime — the first from 42 yards in the initial extra period with a chance to win the game and the second from 47 in the third installment that would have tied it — and Georgia lost 33-30 to Michigan State. The first overtime miss was struck cleanly, but missed to the right. The last miss — the final play of the game — was kicked low due to the distance needed and was blocked. "You could say it wasn’t my year in a lot of respects, and that’s OK," Walsh said. "I work hard. I think that’s the most frustrating part about it — my work ethic and my results don’t really match this year."
Also something to consider about bringing in a young kicker like Blair Walsh who has a active and strong leg is we can now consistently put the ball in the end zone on kickoffs. He's also athletic enough to be capable of making a tackle as the last ditch effort when the rest of the coverage fails. I think the kickoff rule changes have more than a little to do with this selection. If we can take the dangerous kick returners the Lions, Packers, and Bears have out of the game why not? Longwell was not sending the ball that far on kickoffs last year, which lets players like Stefan Logan, Randall Cobb, and Eric Weems have a chance to give their teams good field position or even score on us with dangerous return ability. As long as Devin Hester still plays for the Bears -- even though he isn't expected to play a significant role on kickoff returns but will remain as the primary punt returner -- their special teams is still a threat to score.
The bottom line is he has the leg strength to consistently nail 50+ yard field goals (converted 10 of 17 career attempts from 50 yards and beyond) and gives us a the ability to negate teams' dangerous kick returners because he can kick it through the endzone not giving the chance in the first place. NFL teams actually rely on their kickers a lot to win them games or give them a lead in a tight contest, and Georgia relied on him a lot. His previous year's stat lines show how reliable he is from short-to-mid-range and he's kicked outdoors so that'll be good experience for kicking in Green Bay and Chicago. Power, Accuracy, Experience outdoors; he brings everything together in a draftable kicker package that was rated by many as the top kicker prospect overall.
I know I know, many still feel kickers shouldn't get drafted regardless but that's simply not true. In 12 of the past 13 drafts, and 17 of the past 20 years, at least one kicker was drafted. Those guys can win you games. How many times has Longwell clutched us a victory as time runs out in regulation? Walsh has been reliable enough in college that any team that wanted him needed to select him to keep him off the undrafted free agent market. There was a bit of a mini-run on kickers there after Randy Bullock of Texas A&M was picked so I think they felt they needed to take him that high in order to assure they get him.
Truth be told, I think the Vikings really wanted Missouri Western's Greg Zuerlein, who is arguably one of the best kickers to come out of the college ranks in years, but we missed out on him when he was taken by the St. Louis Rams just a few picks earlier. The Vikings had Zuerlein in for a private workout and were one of his most-interested potential suitors. The Vikings special team coordinator watched Zuerlein kick in a one-on-one workout a couple of weeks back and described it as the most impressive kick off workout that he has been a part of. Throughout his senior year at Missouri Western, Zuerlein made 24 of 25 field goal attempts, including nine of nine from 50+ yards (an NCAA record regardless of division). He set a school record when he made five kicks in one game and tied a school record when he converted on a 57-yard kick. Zuerlein has tremendous form and doesn’t push the ball on his kicks. His leg can consistently send kickoffs through the endzone as well. Zuerlein was projected by several sources as one of the top two kickers available in the ’12 NFL draft along with Georgia’s Blair Walsh. ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. projected Zuerlein as the best kicker in the draft. Just goes to show how close you can be to getting your player sometimes (like Rueben Randle falling in the second) and teams still don't trade up to assure they get them. Mind boggling to say the least.
Audie Cole, MLB/SLB, N.C. State
The Vikings' coaching staff worked with him at the Senior Bowl and liked what they saw. They feel he's a versatile linebacker, having shifted from the strong side to the middle, and can come in and provide quality depth at multiple spots, as well as become a core special teams contributor. Whether he stays at Mike or moves back to OLB due to his ability in coverage he'll give the Vikings someone who can step in and play in a pinch due to injury. His 2010 tape while playing on the strong side best displays his NFL future as he is best suited to play over the tight end.
When he arrived on campus as a freshman, Cole was a three-year starter as a prep quarterback with experience as a safety, but he was assigned weak-side outside line-backer duties. As a sophomore, when injuries hit the defensive squad, he was asked to move to strong-side outside linebacker. He would go on to lead his team in tackles with 85. Despite leading the team in tackles, Cole was overshadowed the next season by former All-American standout Nate Irving but still played good enough to lead his team in tackle for the second consecutive year.
When Irving moved on to the Denver Broncos (3rd round pick 67 overall in 2011 NFL Draft) leaving the team vacant of leadership inside, the senior volunteered and took over assignment-calling duties at the middle linebacker spot, sliding over from his customary strong side position, in N.C. State's aggressive defense where his instincts and prototypical size (6'4 1/8", 246 pounds) allowed him to continue to make plays.
The senior linebacker again led the team in tackles (108 total, a career high, 13.5 for a loss), sacks (5.5), and forced four fumbles. He was the team's leading tackler in five of the 13 games and racked up a career-high 16 at Cincinnati and tied that mark with 16 against Georgia Tech. He earned all-ACC honorable mention honors and a spot on the Butkus Award semifinal list.
In all Cole completed an outstanding career at North Carolina State where he's tied for 12th in school history with 328 tackles,13th in tackles for a loss with 32.5, and is in the top 10 with 15 career sacks. He played in 51 games (38 starts) over four seasons with the Wolfpack so he's got the experience and the production but he fell for a reason -- he's a bit slow and stiff -- but still a smart, instinctive football player. Because of his experience at multiple positions and his high football I.Q. he can set the fronts and make all the calls and checks. Cole's shortcomings are his rigid movement skills where on tape he reminds me of E.J. Henderson with his solid run-stuffer attributes but lack off athletic fluidity. He'll be able to contribute and give us some solid depth at linebacker -- inside or out -- but I don't believe he'll ever push to be a legitimate candidate to start at the MLB spot.
Trevor Guyton, DE/DT, Cal
His skill set reminds me a lot Kevin Williams. Like Kevin, who played defensive end for Oklahoma State and started the opening 12 games at left defensive end before he moved inside to start at tackle for the final 4 games in his rookie season for Minnesota, Guyton will probably kick inside in the NFL. Guyton has prototypical size and quickness for the defensive tackle position that Kevin currently plays at, three-technique. He is very quick off the ball and can get after the passer being fast to the quarterback once in the backfield. He was disruptive early and often for Cal last year.
Guyton started all 13 games as a senior last season and finished with a career-high 46 tackles. He led Cal with 5.5 sacks and added 12 stops for a loss. Guyton, who lined up at three different spots and spent part of the season battling a shin injury, was named All-Pac 12 second-team by the league's coaches.
Guyton didn't get a chance to get on the field much or start many games early because of the team's depth at the position, being caught behind first-round picks Cameron Jordan and Tyson Alualu, but when he did get his chance he was a force. With 10 sacks and 20½ tackles for loss over his last two college seasons his best football could be in front of him.
The lack of starting experience (Only 17 starts in 42 games, started all 13 games last year though) makes him raw, which is why he was available so late, but it also makes him a bit of an unknown. He could have his best football ahead of him or he could be a one year wonder. Teams simple don't know but one things for sure he's ready to prove his worth.
"The biggest negative was not getting on the field as much as I felt like derved to and as much as maybe I could have been out there on a different team," he said. "But just to learn from guys that are so good. I improved my game more than maybe I could if I was just there playing by myself."
While D-Line is a team strength in many ways we need as much depth as we can get, at all positions, and he can play three-technique. He can also play left defensive end. And he's also been over the nose some as a nickel rusher. It never hurts to add another quality pass rusher with this much versatility. The more positions he can play the more valuable the player, and this was a very underrated pick.
I'm happy with our picks and believe me if I wasn't I wouldn't be afraid to say so (see the Blanton pick above). I stress POTENTIAL as the word of this draft. A lot of players we took have immense talent, some have questions marks here and there for various things, but they all have the potential to outplay their draft position we selected them in.
I also wanna give Spielman some credit for channeling his inner Bill Belichick and trading picks for future picks in a higher round. He gave the Titans a 7th and got a future 6th and got a future 4th from the Lions for trading a 5th and swapping 7th rounders. Considering how he traded up into the 1st round using an extra 4th round pick this year it has me excited for what possibilities it opens up for us next year.
Overall it was a very solid draft by Mr. Spielman. An overall grade I'de give our draft a B. A solid B. And when I say B I really mean it because remember I don't like handing out A's and B's.