The Minnesota Vikings have a couple of highly heralded rookies taking their first NFL steps this off-season in linebacker Anthony Barr and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. However, in his projected all-rookie team that was released today, Mel Kiper. . .dramatic pause. . .Draft Expert placed one Viking on the squad, and it wasn't either of the team's first-round choices.
Instead, he tabbed defensive tackle Shamar Stephen, the first of the Vikings' three seventh-round picks this past May, as one of the two defensive tackles on the team, along with St. Louis Rams rookie Aaron Donald.
One name you know, one you probably don't. I don't believe it's a matter of if with Donald, only when. He won't be able to dominate interior blockers like he did at Pitt, but he's going to create negative plays with full reps. Stephen could be a steal if he builds on a solid start. The seventh-rounder out of UConn is going to see time in the Vikings' rotation up front.
A lot has been made of the Vikings having seven first-round picks over the last three drafts, but it would be nice of a player like Stephen could become something special. Early indications have shown that he has the ability to be just that.
The outside linebacker spot where you would hope to see Barr was occupied by two top-five picks in Houston's Jadeveon Clowney and Oakland's Khalil Mack. As far as the quarterback position, Kiper went with Oakland's Derek Carr. . .the only rookie that will be his team's opening day starter in 2014. Kiper did say that "if all things were equal and every rookie got to start," he would take Bridgewater, but went with Carr because he will get more reps.
In any event, it's nice to see a guy like Stephen that hasn't gotten a lot of press outside of Minnesota be recognized for something like this.