With all of the mock drafts popping out there for the Vikings, one player I wanted to introduce fellow fans to is senior safety Jimmie Ward (5'11, 192lbs) from Northern Illinois University.
With Jordan Lynch's fantastic past two seasons getting all the credit for NIU's 24-3 run, the rest of the team has missed out on the opportunity of the spotlight. While Northern had some great playmakers throughout the team, one player that asserted himself as a playmaker and leader of the defense was Jimmie Ward.
Ward had a fantastic senior season as a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award (nation's best DB). Ward's statistics over 4 years, including his season he played as a true freshman are amazing (via NIU Huskies Site):
|2011||14||48||52||100||1 / 9||2.5 / 10||1||--||4||1 / 0|
|2012||13||65||39||104||--||1 / 3||1||--||11||3 / 40|
|2013||14||62||33||95||1 / 10||2.5 / 15||1||1||10||7 / 102|
|TOTAL||55||189||131||320||2 / 19||6 / 28||4||1||26||
11 / 142
His 7 interceptions this season was near the top of the nation. He made a name for himself on special teams as well, with blocked punts in each of his years playing on ST.
The best view of Jimmie Ward's ability on the next level was in the 2013 Orange Bowl against the future national champions Florida State: Jimmie Ward's All Over the Field. NIU was outmanned in every aspect of the game, but Jimmie Ward was involved in nearly every single play. He looked like he not only belonged, but was dominant.
Most Mock Drafts have Ward as either a late round flyer or as being undrafted (as in Matt Miller's latest mock 7 round mock).
So start the hype train, and consider Ward as a potential draft gem for the Vikings.