Sunday, October 4, 2015

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Draft expert Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) creator of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio and contributor at Football Guys and Football Outsiders joins the show to take go in depth on who the Vikings may be targeting in the draft at the end of the month. Our Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings have many options at the #11 pick, aren’t hurting for a clear cut need, still could move Adrian Peterson, and we all know Slick Rick Spielman’s propensity to make moves in the first round.

Full episode after the jump!

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Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was unsuccessfully in his overtures to sign defensive end Michael Johnson during free agency over the past two off-seasons.

Johnson had his best seasons when he played under Zimmer in Cincinnati the first five years of his NFL career. The Vikings wanted him as a pass rushing complement to Everson Griffen and Brian Robison. However, with a lucrative offer in hand from the Vikings, Johnson ultimately left Minnesota with his heart set on returning to Cincinnati.

Zimmer must now look to the draft if he wants to add a “Michael Johnson like” pass rusher to his defensive arsenal.

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Georgia Tech’s triple-option attack breeds success on the ground — in 2014, the Yellow Jackets averaged 342.1 rushing yards per game, second-best in all of FBS. Pre-snap motion, backfield deception, and misdirection open a multitude of running lanes, but also open up opportunities in the passing game.

In stark contrast to its prolific rushing numbers, Georgia Tech averaged just 134.4 passing yards per game, ranking 123rd in the FBS last season. Wide receivers aren’t usually the team’s playmakers, but the transition from collegiate football to the NFL has been wildly successful for two Yellow Jackets — Demaryius Thomas and Calvin Johnson.

Considered two of the league’s best receivers, both players were first-round draft picks and quickly proved doubters wrong, showing the ability to run more than just skinny posts and comebacks in the NFL. Another Georgia Tech product, Stephen Hill, was a second-round draft pick with the Jets in 2012, but quickly flamed out when he couldn’t combine his athleticism with the game’s fundamentals.

This year, senior wide receiver Darren Waller will look to follow in the footsteps of players like Thomas and Johnson. In a deep draft class, he’ll fall to the lower rounds, where the Minnesota Vikings could take a chance on the 6’6″, 238-pound prospect. One question remains — will he be able to connect the dots in the NFL, or fall by the wayside like Stephen Hill?

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The cornerback class is quietly one of the deeper and more talented groups in this year’s NFL draft. At the top of the pack is Trae Waynes from Michigan State and Marcus Peters from Washington. From purely a talent standpoint, many people believe Peters is the better CB prospect yet red flag issues have hurt his draft stock. Waynes is a lanky press cover specialist who is consistently being projected and mocked in the neighborhood of the Vikings’ 11th over all pick.

Cornerback is widely believed to be an area of need for the Vikings, and I certainly suspect Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer might look to draft more than one versatile defensive back again this year. Even if the Vikings select a corner in the first round, they could look to target a “sleeper” cornerback in the later rounds, who can also play safety.

My Sleeper Sunday pick this week goes to USC’s Josh Shaw. Shaw is a talented cornerback on the football field, but unfortunately he’s been overshadowed by his tall tale lie off the field which has turned his life upside down.

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On this Easter Sunday, a group of us here at VT are continuing to highlight our favorite “sleepers” to keep an eye on as Draft Weekend plays out next month. Thus far, we have pointed out OLB Edmond Robinson, OG Josue Matias, P Trevor Pardula, CB JaCorey Shepherd, QB Brandon Bridge, and S Sam Carter.

Today, I’m kicking things off by discussing a running back prospect that has piqued my interest. The Vikings, of course, have a turbulent situation on their hands at running back right now, but adding talent and depth in later rounds is likely to occur regardless of how the Adrian Peterson saga plays out over the next month.

I don’t view North Dakota State’s John Crockett as a full-time starter in the NFL, but I also don’t see him as a strict reserve option like I consider Matt Asiata to be. Instead, I see Crockett as the type of guy that could be an essential part of a two or three running back committee.

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