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Sheldon Richardson, Manti Te’o, and Keenan Allen seem to be popular first round picks for the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of mock drafts across the internet. For those mocks that are now including second rounds, however, one name seems to really be dominating the short list of guys that make sense for the Vikings to target.
That guy is Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter… and for good reason.
At 6′ 4″ and 196 pounds Hunter possesses the prototypical size front offices in need of a #1 receiver, like the Vikings, will be looking for. He possesses the speed necessary to stretch the field and is capable of out jumping most cornerbacks if it comes to that. He has shown the ability to make the seemingly impossible grab and also change a game with his quickness and moves after the catch.
Still, there are reasons that a guy of Hunter’s stature isn’t expected to be a first round pick, and they are not to be overlooked. First and foremost, Hunter has struggled with injury. After blowing up the college game in 2010, Hunter suffered a 2011 ACL injury in week three that ended his season, and caused Tennessee to spiral downward. He was able to play for all of 2012, but he never quite looked like his 2010 self and was overshadowed by teammate Cordarrelle Patterson during most games.
It isn’t readily known for certain if Hunter’s problems were a result of his injury still affecting him, or if they were more mental, but I can tell you that I saw the kid drop more passes in 2012 than what I would prefer in a high round pick. Hunter seems like he might be one of those “moody” receivers that doesn’t have a short memory and may let an early-game mistake bother him for the rest of the day.
I don’t mean to pile on here and make it seem like I don’t like Hunter as a prospect, I do, but I also worry that he isn’t strong and physical enough to be a consistent deep threat. If you watch his highlight reel you will see a guy blowing by defenders with no mercy, but the other 98% of the game tape will show a receiver that struggles getting off jams and is tentative going across the middle of the field. This will also need to be addressed at the next level.
Hunter has his risks, but he seems just as capable of shredding a defense as any receiver in this class, and certainly has some major upside. I think some of his game tape downgrades him to the second round or lower, unlike his teammate Cordarrelle Patterson who I have as a first round target for the Vikings, but he sure seems like a guy that is quickly becoming popular among Vikings fans.
If your team loses early in the postseason, and you have your own blog, then the reward is being able to turn your gaze towards the NFL Draft. So, with the Vikings getting a slap upside the head from Green Bay last weekend, I couldn’t help but update my mock.
Last time around I assigned Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson to the Vikings. Since then, however, the Vikings success meant they worked themselves all the way down to the 23rd selection and the more I looked at Richardson the more I am convinced he will be long gone by that point.
I ended up taking Richardson off the board at the 11th spot (Chargers) and had to see how things worked themselves out by the time the Vikings were “on the clock” in my mock.
A number of interesting option still existed at 23, which is a good sign for when the real deal actually rolls around, and I was awfully tempted to consider North Carolina State quarterback Mike Glennon. While I think some quarterback-needy team might trade up to this point and try to grab Glennon, I just don’t see the Vikings realistically spending their first rounder on the quarterback position unless the coaching staff is suddenly and surprisingly dismissed… which won’t happen.
The Vikings will likely target a quarterback at some point in the Draft, but I highly doubt it’ll be that early, as they remain committed to developing Christian Ponder.
I did select someone on the offensive side of the football, however, and could help Ponder in his efforts to improve what has been a very lackluster passing game.
At #23, with USC’s Robert Woods the only other receiver selected prior, I assigned Tennessee product Cordarrelle Patterson to the Vikings. The rest of the mock can be looked over by clicking here.
He has great size at 6’ 3” and 205 pounds and impressive elusiveness and has helped quarterback Tyler Bray lead an impressive passing game. He has also contributed significantly by taking handoffs, returning punts, and returning kicks. Sound familiar?
He is a physical receiver capable of out jumping most defenders, and possesses the ability to consistently make any catch he can get his hands on. The only knock on Patterson is that he is still raw and needs to work on his route running, which is completely coachable.
For those unfamiliar with Patterson, here is a nice little highlight reel to get you familiarized. At the very least, take note of how his legs never stop churning… despite the ridiculously long strides this guy take: