Personally I think, if there was a comparison or a team for the Vikings to model themselves after during this rebuild (i don't care what anyone says i consider it a rebuild, even without the complete tear down) I would say the 76' Raiders. Minus the stickum though. Yes, the dreaded/hated 76 Raiders who defeated the Vikings in the Super Bowl. On offense that means they would need to have a dominant O-line, a strong armed QB that can hit you over the top, a power rushing game to run it down your throat, and speedsters down the sidelines. Almost there on that side of the ball right? When it comes to defense thats what everyone remembers-The nastiest, most physical defense in the country. We've got certain peices that could exude that kind of physicality (Smith, Rhodes, Robison, maybe Floyd), but we definitely would need another couple of guys to help set a nasty tone. Last year the Vikings were not very physical. No one was really except maybe Rhodes, and at times Smith and Sendejo. So I started looking for the most physical, aggressive mind set players players that could be had in the first. It should be noted despite how physical and explosive Kalil Mack is I did not include him because I believe he'll be gone before the Vikings pick. Even if picked right before by our ex-coach Frazier, and the Tampa Bay Bucs.
Pick at 8:
- Anthony Barr, OLB (NFL Draft Grade: 6.6)
"Explosive striker. Can produce "wow" plays when he triggers quickly or releases cleanly and has developed a reputation for knocking quarterbacks out of games"
God knows how badly the LB core needs a physical player to help set the tone. The Vikings honestly have a pretty soft LB group. They could use having a younger faster Sam LB, who can truely rack up sacks and still fly all over the field.
-Darqueze Dennard, CB (NFL Draft Grade: 5.9)
"Very accountable leader by example. Brings intensity to the field and plays with urgency. Highly confident and competitive."
While Gilbert ranks higher with a 6.3, I would much rather have Dennard. Gilbert was gifted with great physical attributes but he's not aggressive and doesn't have the mentality I would want a top 10 pick to have "a bit soft-tempered. Immature early with an inflated ego and spent some time in the coach's doghouse after coasting too much on his natural ability and making too many mental mistake". Dennard is the opposite, he's as hands on and aggressive as you could possibly want, is considered very likable and coachable. One of Mike Mayocks favorites. Having him and Rhodes across from each other could create one of the most physical man coverage DB tandems in the league. Two shutdown corners? Good luck NFC North.
-C.J. Mosely, ILB (NFL Draft Grade: 6.5)
"Secure, drive-through tackler. Hits with explosion and jars ball carriers on impact. Excellent lateral agility -- flows fast and ranges to the sideline. Exceptional weight-room worker with good functional play strength -- plays bigger than his size."
Again, our LB core needs physicality. He's the most instinctive, sideline to sideline LB in this draft. Another NFL ready product out of Alabama.
Trade back and if available:
-Calvin Pryor, SS (NFL Draft Grade: 6.15)
"A big, physical, hammering run defender brings an enforcer mentality to the box and an intimidating, punishing presence to the back end. Is arguably the most violent hitter in this year's draft class and should make his presence felt readily in the pros."
Exactly the kind of player that needs to be paired up with Harrison Smith. Would set the tone, and take the level of physicality to a new high. Could make Smith look soft and in a division with so many top receivers, it's necissary. Could be argued that he would be worth taking at #8, difficult though considering just a week ago he was seen as a late 1st, early 2nd by most media outlets. Another one of Mike Mayocks favorites though, and in the last few days he's found himself rising up mock draft boards more and more.
-Ryan Shrazier, OLB (NFL Draft Grade: 6.15)
"The Big Ten's leading tackler, Shazier flies around the field and his unique athletic ability stands out. Offers a tremendous combination of speed, tackling and coverage skills to become a playmaker as a run-and-hit 4-3 Will or perhaps a 3-4 weakside."
Agaaaaaiiinnn, physical LB's are a big need for the Vikings. This guy is a straight up playmaker. Flying around everywhere, letting teams know he's there. As productive as possible, if he adds some bulk to his frame he could be a one man wrecking crew similar to Mack. Draft him and you can easily release Greenway and free up around 8 mil, or let Greenway move to the Mike position where he actually might be better suited now days.
-Ra'Shede Hageman, DT (NFL Draft Grade: 6.1)
"Flashes the ability explode off the ball, jolt blockers and disrupt the backfield. Terrific movement, flexibility and range. Loose ankles. Can work the edges. Able to redirect and chase athletically. Fierce tackler. Rare leaping ability for his size (workout all-star). Disrupts passing lanes. Has a "wow" factor at his best. Has immense upside. Team captain."
Even though he may not fit, atleast initially as a NT so he would have to be a rotational DT/DE-The sky is the limit for this kid. Can you imagine having him and Sharrif Floyd rotating? As explosive as a DT as your going to get in this draft, and many more to come.
-Louis Nix, NT (NFL Draft Grade: 5.9)
"Outstanding size. Commands a double team and has two-gap ability. Good quickness off the snap. Has press strength and power to push blockers into the backfield."
After the NT position is solidified, it changes everything for the rest of the defense. For Zimmer's stop the run, get in the QB's face and dare them to throw on us defense, this position needs to be solved. If he was 100% healthy, he'd have been a great pick at #8.
-Timmy Jerrigan, NT (NFL Draft Grade: 5.6)
"Strong for his size and clogs the middle. Has disruptive ability. Bends his knees and plays with leverage. Able to stack, locate and shed. Wraps and rips down ball carriers. Coordinated hands and feet. Is difficult to engage -- has quick, active paws. Can slap, rip and swim to beat blockers and turns up the heat on passing downs."
Same as I said before about the NT position. I wasn't big on seeing him ready to pass out, panting on the sidelines at the BCS National Championship game but then again he was out of breath because he was playing his heart out all game before that, and there is no denying how disruptive this guy is.
-Trent Murphy, DE (NFL Draft Grade: 5.65)
"Very physical re-routing tight ends at the line. Outstanding motor and sack production -- led the country in sacks (15) as a senior. Tough, smart and hardworking with a throwback personality. Leader vocally and by example. Will hold teammates accountable and represent the program with class."
Nasty, Mean, Intelligent. Rare combination. Constantly compared to Jared Allen. Not the most physically gifted but with a high motor and being a true technician he has been very productive. Reminds me personally of Jared Allen too, but much less goofy. Wrestled calves when he was younger, skinned rattlesnakes, has the kinda stories you would expect from Allen. When discussing getting praised he's been quoted as replying with "We just kick them in the shin and keep moving forward, any time anyone compliments you, kick them in the shin and keep moving."
Free Agents that could help set a physical tone:
-Walter Thurmond III
-and more but I'm tired and I think I got my point out there