Minnesota Vikings Draft Review

by Tommy Lawlor  –  ScoutsNotebook.com

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

2 – CB Chris Cook – Virginia
2 – RB Toby Gerhart – Stanford
4 – DE Everson Griffen – USC
5 – OG Chris Degeare – Wake Forest
5 – LB Nathan Tripplett – Minnesota
6 – QB Joe Webb – UAB
7 – TE Mickey Shuler – Penn State
7 – LB Ryan D’Imperio – Rutgers

The Vikings entered the 2010 draft with quite an enviable position.  They had arguably the best roster in all of the NFL, assuming that old guy gets off his lawn mower and returns to play QB.  That gave them the luxury of truly picking the best player available.  The Vikings decided to trade out of the 1st round, but only moved down a few spots.  They took Virginia CB Chris Cook with pick #34.  CB was a position where Minnesota had some issues.  Antoine Winfield isn’t getting any younger.  While he’s still great on short routes, Winfield got beat downfield at times in ’09.  Cedric Griffin tore his ACL in the NFC title game and we don’t know when he’ll return.  

In picking Cook the Vikings got the best big CB in the whole draft.  Cook (6’2, 212) had a good year, but really opened eyes at the Senior Bowl.  He was fast, quick, and athletic.  He looked comfortable in man coverage.  Cook was able to be physical, but also was effective playing off.  He had a good showing at the Combine.  Minnesota likes their CBs to press quite a bit.  This makes Cook a natural fit.  I don’t know if he’s as much of a playmaker as they’d like, but that could change in the NFL.  UVa didn’t exactly have a great front seven this year.  Minnesota gets a lot of pressure on the passer.  That could mean more chances for Cook to play the ball.

With their other 2nd round pick the Vikings took Toby Gerhart, the star RB from Stanford.  This is a very interesting selection.  Backup RB Chester Taylor left for the Bears in free agency.  That left an opening behind elite runner Adrian Peterson.  Still, do you spend a 2nd rounder on a player who will be a backup for the foreseeable future?  I don’t think that is a good use of resources.  Minnesota would likely argue that they’ve built such a good roster that they can make that move if they want.  Also, this could be a sign that they are really going all out to win the Super Bowl.  If AP gets hurt they will have a very talented RB already in position to replace him.  I just think that RB is a position where you can find starters outside the first couple of rounds, let alone backups.

Gerhart is a gifted player.  He had a great year for the Cardinal in 2009.  He ran for 1,871 yards and 28 TDs.  28…that just blows me away.  Opposing defenses knew he was getting the ball, but Gerhart rarely got stopped.  Crazy.  He turned out to be a bit smaller than expected at 6’0, 231.  That’s probably good.  Very few really big backs actually succeed in the NFL.  Gerhart had a great workout at the Combine.  He looked natural on the move and surprised me with how well he caught the ball.  He was a good baseball player for Stanford.  This isn’t just a sledgehammer.  Gerhart is an athlete who just happens to be a big, physical runner.  I think he will be a good NFL RB, but you do have to wonder how he’ll handle being a backup.  He was a workhorse for Stanford.  Now he’s Peterson’s caddy.  That can be a very tough adjustment for some players.

The next pick came in the 4th round when Minnesota chose DE Everson Griffen from USC.  I had real mixed feelings on Griffen.  His highlights were very impressive.  Put on the Notre Dame game and he plays really well.  Put on other games and he might as well not be there.  Tons of potential, but even more inconsistency.  I’ve heard from various people that Griffen can be difficult to deal with.  He’s turned off more than a few people who had to deal with him.  I don’t have a problem with the Vikings taking him in the 4th round.  If he gives you problems, you cut him.  I hope the light goes on for Griffen.  He can no longer do whatever he wants.  He can no longer show up when he feels like it.  In the NFL you have to produce or they’ll tell you to hit the bricks.  Act like a jerk and you’ll be stuck on the bench.  If that happens enough, you hit the bricks.  Griffen will mostly be a situational pass rusher in 2010.  That’s a good fit for him.  He has a very good burst.  Playing at the Metrodome with the benefits of crowd noise will give him a chance to have some success even as a rookie.

Minnesota had a pair of picks in the 5th round.  They first took OG Chris Degeare of Wake Forest.  He played both OG and OT for the Demon Deacons, but projects on the inside in the NFL.  Degeare (6’4, 325) lacks the footwork to start at OT in the pros.  He’s just not a good enough pass blocker.  He could be a backup there in emergency situations.  I think he has starting potential for the Vikings on the inside.  Degeare is a good run blocker.  He’s at his best in a short area.  He can move his guy off the ball.  He uses his hands well.  Put Degeare out in space or at the 2nd level and he gets sloppy in a hurry.  Minnesota is a power running team that would give Degeare his best chance to succeed.

Next up the Vikings took LB Nathan Triplett from the University of Minnesota.  I like this pick quite a bit.  I was slow to appreciate him, but the more tape I watched the more I kept noticing that Triplett was a good player.  He has excellent size at 6’3, 247.  He played WLB for UM, but could play SLB or MLB in the NFL.  Triplett emerged as a Senior. He hadn’t been a starter prior to 2009. Once on the field, he was very productive:  62 solo stops, 5 TFLs, 5 PBUs, and 2 INTs. Triplett really got my attention when he ran in the 4.7 range at the Combine. He also looked good in his drills. Now we had a big guy with some athletic ability.  I don’t know that he will ever be a starter in the NFL, but he could be a very good STer and backup.  He has the physical ability to be a starter.  I just don’t know if his style of play and skill set will work.  Triplett is best when he can attack his targets and play downhill.  That’s generally best at MLB, but I have no idea if he’s got the instincts for that job.

Minnesota took Joe Webb in the 6th round.  Webb is a confusing guy.  Played some QB as a Redshirt Freshman at UAB.  Then he mainly played WR as a Soph.  He moved back to QB for his final 2 years and posted insane numbers.  He ran for more than 1,000 yards each year while throwing for more than 2,000 as well.  He totaled 22 rushing TDs and 31 passing TDs.  He was the UAB offense.  Joe got invited to the Senior Bowl.  NFL scouts had doubts about him as an NFL QB so they had him play WR.  He struggled quite a bit.  Then he had arguably the best Pro Day workout of anyone.  Webb is big at 6’3, 225.  He ran a 4.41.  He had a 43-inch vertical jump.  His broad jump was an astounding 11’5.  He did 21 reps.  The Vikings were happy to snatch him up as a developmental prospect.  They list him on the team roster as a WR.  The problem…he’s now competing for the #3 QB job.  We know that Joe has the size and physical tools to play in the NFL, at WR or QB.  We have to see how he handles the mental side of things as well as the positional skills.  The Vikings like something about him or he wouldn’t be competing with Sage Rosenfels for the #3 QB spot.  I look forward to seeing what Webb can do in the preseason games.

The Vikings had a pair of picks in the 7th round.  They first took TE Mickey Shuler from Penn State.  You may recognize the name.  His dad Mickey played TE for PSU and then played for the Jets in the late 70s and early 80s.  Shuler never became a star at PSU.  He didn’t have the best luck.  For most of his career, PSU had a trio of great WRs that caught a ton of balls.  The TE wasn’t a featured role in the passing offense.  Shuler only caught 9 passes in 2008.  In ’09 when the WRs were gone Shuler was hurt by the fact that fellow TE Andrew Quarless cleaned up his act and had a good year.  Shuler caught 11 passes.  Despite the lack of starts and big numbers, Shuler can make it in the NFL.  He has the potential to be a good backup TE.  Shuler is a solid blocker.  He’ll play on STs.  He has good hands.  Just don’t expect him to make big plays.

With the final selection, Minnesota took Rutgers LB Ryan D’Imperio.  Ryan played MLB for the Scarlet Knights, but will move to offense for the Vikings.  They see him as a FB.  He needs to bulk up from 6’2, 230.   Most FBs you want in the 245 range these days.  Ryan has some athletic ability.  Every year we see teams taking a MLB that isn’t quite ideal for the NFL and making him a FB.  I didn’t see this coming with Ryan.  He runs well enough that I thought he’d get a shot at MLB.  Most guys that have to move to FB don’t have the speed for defense.

Vikings draft tracker at NFL.com

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