The 2009 NFL Draft, which is basically Christmas for football fans, ended a few hours ago and the Vikings definetly made a splash. Here we’re going to give intitial reactions to each of the Vikings five new players:
Percy Harvin, wide receiver, Florida, pick 22, first round
THE GOOD: Harvin is always dangerous with the ball in his hands. He practically single-handedly won Florida their most recent championship, and should be able to provide the Vikings with an explosive playmaker to prevent defenses from stacking the line to stop Adrian Peterson.
THE BAD: Harvin comes with a pretty bad rap. While most of his worst situations occured during high school, he also recently failed his drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine which he knew was coming. This means that one slip up of any sort and the commissioner is likely to give him a suspension.
THE UNKNOWN: Harvin has had some injury issues throughout his football career to date. Durability was a big knock on him coming into the draft, and now it is a wait and see game to see how big of an issue it is really going to be. Remember, durability was the big knock against Adrian Peterson in 2007 as well.
QUOTE FROM DRAFT DAY: “I do think that I am one of the most explosive receivers and I think there a lot of things that I could bring to a team because I can line up in the backfield and as a slot and as an out.”
GRADE: “C” There is no denying that Harvin could become a premier player with his game changing abilities, but he also runs the risk of doing more damage than good if his character flaws come out again. For now a “C” until he earns the respect of Minnesota fans. The fact that he was choosen over offensive tackle Michael Oher is another reason why I didn’t give the Vikings a higher grade here.
Phil Loadholt, offensive tackle, Oklahoma, pick 54, second round
THE GOOD: This pick is great because of its potential to be an immediate and huge upgrade at the right tackle side of the line. Loadholt is a monster of a man that excels at run blocking, which puts Adrian Peterson into immediate consideration for MVP before the season even begins.
THE BAD: Loadholt struggles with the mental aspects of the position and has a tendancy to draw penalties. While he should be an overall upgrade to Ryan Cook, fans should expect a fair share of flags being thrown on Loadholt as well.
THE UNKNOWN: Many thought that Loadholt was too big and wasn’t refined enough in his technique and footwork to fit well into the Vikings zone-blocking scheme. Obviously the Vikings think he’ll do just fine.
QUOTE FROM DRAFT DAY: “I played right tackle at the Senior Bowl and some in junior college. I’m very comfortable on the right side and I’m looking forward to it.”
GRADE: “A-” Loadholt was not really expected to fall to the Vikings in the second round, but quite a few of the top tackle prospects fell. It is obvious that he is one of the most impressive tackle prospects as far as measurables go, and after visiting with Loadholt multiple times the Vikings obviously felt like he is the right fit. Loadholt should become an instant starter and be a dominant tackle for years to come.
Asher Allen, cornerback, Georgia, pick 86, third round
THE GOOD: Allen will provide another cornerback option for the Vikings behind Cedric Griffin and Antoine Winfield. As it stands now, Griffin is the only corner on the roster that doesn’t see his contract expire next year, so Allen will provide some long term stability to the position. He also did a bit of return work in college.
THE BAD: At 5′ 9″ and 190 lbs. Allen seems a little small. Also, his speed is definetly not on the elite level. My initial reaction was that the Vikings drafted him to jump into the nickle spot, but something tells me he’ll have trouble beating out Charles Gordon and he’ll be a dime back this year.
THE UNKNOWN: Allen proved he was a tough player by playing with a broken hand. He claims his hand is heeled, and some speculate he’d have been a first day pick if it weren’t for the injury. We will have to see if it affects his ability to compete during training camp.
QUOTE FROM DRAFT DAY: “Having a good character and good grades and things like that. I thought those things were going to be able to take me up a little bit higher but you never know what happens in those [draft] rooms and how they come up with their decisions.”
GRADE: “B-” By drafting Allen, the Vikes added their ninth cornerback to the roster. I don’t really see what Allen brings to the table that guys like Benny Sapp, Charles Gordon, and Karl Paymah don’t already possess. In fact, I couldn’t even find a highlight reel for the undersized corner. That being said, Allen is thought to be a tough and skilled player at the position. While he’ll never be quite as good as Winfield, he plays a similar game.
Jasper Brinkley, linebacker, South Carolina, pick 150, fifth round
THE GOOD: Brinkley has a big 6′ 2″ and 250 lbs. frame accompanied by solid playing speed. If it weren’t for injury, Brinkley would’ve been a lock as a day one pick after the 2007 season. His work ethic and determination are pretty impressive, and he’s exactly the type of hard nosed player the Vikings can feel confident to have backing up E.J. Henderson. He also has the versatility to fill in at the other linebacker spots if need be.
THE BAD: As I mentioned, Brinkley was knocked out of the 2007 season after a gruesome knee injury. While he came back and semi-proved himself in 2008, it remains to be seen if he can truly get back and play at the level he was at before the injury. Also, injuries like this run the risk of reoccuring, which would be devestating to his career.
THE UNKNOWN: Surprising for a guy of his size, Brinkley seems to be less of a physical player than you would expect. I don’t know if this is posssibly just a “gun shy” reaction to his injury or if it is just the way he plays. Regardless, he’s going to have to get over that real quick to be successful in the NFL.
QUOTE FROM DRAFT DAY: “I got to full speed toward the end of the year, you could tell by the way my performance showed – my tackles and sacks started to increase.”
GRADE: “A” As far as I’m concerned, trading up to snag this kid was one of the smarter moves the Vikings front office made all day. Linebacker depth was a definite need, and Brinkley has tremendous value for a fifth round pick in that respect. Do not be surprised to see him make an immediate impact on special teams, and eventually become a starter in this league.
Jamarca Sanford, safety, Mississippi, pick 231, seventh round
THE GOOD: The Vikes desperatly needed to address the depth at the safety position, and they manage to do a pretty good job of it with only using a seventh rounder. Sanford ran a great forty time of 4.43 at his pro day. He should provide an exciting amount of speed on the special teams coverage unit. If you combine that with his solid tackling skills, he might just be able to give Heath Farwell a run for his money as the special teams team-MVP this season.
THE BAD: This guy is another character concern for the Vikings. In 2003 he was arrested for stealing a car stereo and was arrested again just over one year ago for disorderly conduct and failure to comply. The trend of the Vikings taking risks on character players is worrisome to many fans, and here’s to hoping that they all, including Sanford, can put their troubles behind them.
THE UNKNOWN: While the depth at safety was needed, this is primarily a special teams pick. Sanford is not a great option for being a primary backup to Madieu Williams, as he is quite under-sized and is not a refined cover guy. Time will tell if Sanford is capable of starting at safety, but all initial indications are that the Vikings wouldn’t prefer to have to resort to that.
QUOTE FROM DRAFT DAY: “I really feel like that’s something every young kid goes through growing up. You’re going to make a few mistakes but the biggest thing is you have to learn from your mistakes. That’s something that I did. I just really make better decisions.”
NO HIGHLIGHT REEL AVAILABLE
GRADE: “B+” Again, this is a pick that carries great value. There is no reason why Sanford shouldn’t have gone in an earlier round, so the Vikings got a real steal here. The fact that he was made captain on his team suggests that his character concerns really are buried in the past, and that the Vikings had a very solid prospect fall right into their laps late in the game.