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Approaching The Draft: Defensive Tackles

CURRENT STATUS: The middle of the Vikings defensive line features two of the best in the business in Kevin and Pat Williams. Backing them up are Fred Evans, LeTroy Guion, and Jimmy Kennedy. The only worries about the WilliamsWall are that they are both waiting to hear if the NFL will be allowed to suspend them for four weeks each regarding last year’s StarCaps issue. There is also the fact that Pat Williams will turn 37 this season.

Evans has proven to be an adequate backup, and was retained as a restricted free agent because of his youth and potential. Guion was a rookie last year, and saw very little playing time, but the Vikings still have high hopes for him. Kennedy was a mid-season pickup after the Jaguars cut him loose. Kennedy is a solid veteran with starting experience. Brian Robison, a defensive end, also played tackle last season in pass-rush situations and was quite effective.

ROUND ONE: Jerry Peria of Ole Miss will likely still be on the draft board when the Vikings pick. At 6’-2”, 295 lbs, Peria is widely regarded as the second best tackle in this year’s draft. He was dominant through his entire college campaign and could likely walk onto most NFL teams and start. However, even more ideal would be to learn behind the WilliamsWall for a year or two, and then come in as a starter. It is doubtful that the Vikings go this route in round one, but it wouldn’t be a bad pick by any means.

WHO THEY SHOULD TARGET: I personally think that the Vikings will be okay on the StarCaps issue, and that Fred Evans and Jimmy Kennedy are capable backups, and that Brian Robison is a playmaker and the Vikings should get him on the field whenever possible. So, I think the Vikes should look to bring in some training camp fodder in the form of an undrafted rookie. Someone like Jervonte Jackson from Florida Atlantic could provide the Vikings with young guy who has the measurable (6’-3”, 300 lbs.) and consistency (only missed one game in college) to possibly push guys in training camp and maybe even make the roster. Remember, Pat Williams went undrafted in 1997.

Myron Pryor of Kentucky was once regarded as having first round potential. Unfortunately for him, he’s had a mess of injuries that could keep him from being drafted at all. If he can rebound from all the injuries, then he could be a steal for whoever lands him, but that’s too big of an “if” for the Vikings to use a pick on… especially at a position where they’re fairly solid.

MOST LIKELY TO BE TARGETED: In the second round, the Vikings could very well be considering a dominating tackle, and there should be a few on the board that fit the bill. Last year the Vikings showed that they like to draft replacements for aging veterans a year early, so with Pat Williams’ age, it’d make sense for them to target a truly talented nose tackle like Ron Brace of Boston College. At 6’ 3” and 335 lbs. Brace would be instantly thought of as the successor to Pat Williams.

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