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Approaching The Draft: Defensive Ends

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CURRENT STATUS: The Vikings have invested a lot of draft picks over the years to try and obtain good defensive ends. Some of those deals have worked out, some not so much. One that has definitely worked out was last year’s trade that obtained Jared Allen from Kansas City, and he has been a driving force as the starter at right end.

Ray Edwards is the young starter at left end, who may find himself in competition with Brian Robison for the starting spot. Robison has been compared to Jared Allen himself, and seems to be coming along nicely. Further depth is provided by restricted free agents Jayme Mitchell and Otis Grigsby who will both be back for another year. The status of former first round pick Kenechi Udeze is also relatively unknown after he sat out for a year fighting leukemia. The Vikings would love for him to come back and play some ball. Martaill Burnett is a practice squad player who rounds out the Vikings depth at the end spot.

ROUND ONE: In the first round the Vikings are highly unlikely to draft a defensive end. However, if they were to go that route then Tyson Jackson from LSU would be the guy for them. Jackson would fit the Vikings mentality as he’s a great run stopper. If there are some coveted defensive ends like Jackson on the board when the Vikings pick, then expect them to trade back rather than select the defensive end. At this point the Vikings have too many other needs and are too stacked with young defensive ends to use a first rounder on another.

WHO THEY SHOULD TARGET: Personally, I don’t think the Vikings should target any defensive ends at all. They have six guys on the roster now with interesting cases like Udeze and Robison providing plenty of competition in that spot. The six on the roster now should be the six they take into camp.

LEAST LIKELY TO BE TARGETED: Michael Johnson of Georgia Tech was recently referred to as a “Julius Peppers Clone” by Jon Gruden. He’s got the talent of a first rounder, the size of a first rounder, and terrible work ethic. The fact that the Vikings are almost certain not to target an end in round one, combined with his questionable work ethic, will be enough to ensure that the Vikings take a pass.

MOST LIKELY TO BE TARGETED: I don’t think the Vikings will target a defensive end in the draft this year. I think they’ll concede that they’re happy with what they have and turn the focus elsewhere. This could change between now and the draft if Udeze has problems during OTA’s.


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