Inside Our War Room – Round 4

Alright, back to update you all again on our progress in the #MockThree online mock draft. I’ve touched on it a couple times already (so I won’t again here), but if you missed the first three rounds as well as the general background information on what the draft is all about, use the links below to catch up.

Round One

1.03 – LT Matt Kalil, USC
Trade – 2.03, 4.03 and 6.03 for Bengals 1.21
1.21 – CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama

Rounds Two & Three

3.03 – S Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State

After making the Markelle Martin selection at the top of the third, we again had to wait almost two full rounds to make another pick (as a result of the Dre Kirkpatrick trade). And again, it was tough to watch so many players we were targeting fly off the board.

Before making the Martin selection at the beginning of the third, I was pushing for us to take a wide receiver. Let me rephrase that: I was pushing for us to reach on a wide receiver. I had done a ton of scouting on various later-round wide receivers and was convinced that we should take a certain Juron Criner. I really liked Criner’s size and physicality. In watching his tape, he always seemed to come down with the ball and get up the field quickly. Criner fought for extra yardage after the catch and had good hand-eye coordination. I thought it would have been a solid pick as well as address a need that the team had. The GM of our War Room mellowed me out a little bit and told me it would be a reach; that Criner would probably still be there for our compensatory picks at the end of the fourth round. So, we took the safety Martin instead and crossed our fingers that we’d have another shot at Criner with our 4.33 pick.

Juron Criner was selected at 4.25, capping off a frantic run for wide receivers during the fourth.

We were all a little disappointed that Criner didn’t fall just a few picks further. We would have (meaning Josh, our GM, would have…) looked like geniuses! But, alas, we were left without Criner and going back to our board to see what other wide receivers were available that would still fit that ‘BPA’ title and be a good value.

I proposed we take a wide receiver who had fallen a little bit and was still, in my eyes, a great value pick at that point. Somebody who had the size, speed and verticality to stretch the field. Our GM proposed we take a different receiver, one who was a little further down on our board and, while still very promising, didn’t fit the role of a receiver who could be a legitimate threat down field.

So, here it is:

With the 33rd pick (compensatory) of the fourth round of the 2012 #MockThree NFL draft…

The Minnesota Vikings select WR Nick Toon, Wisconsin.

Wisconsin (I know…) receiver Nick Toon has the size (6′ 2″, 215 lbs.) and speed to really stretch the field and take pressure off of Percy Harvin and our tight ends underneath. Toon is a solid red zone target who isn’t afraid to go up and fight for the ball. He has exceptional hands, does not drop many passes and is an above average route runner. Toon had a pretty good combine showing recording a 4.53 40 yard dash and a 37.5″ vertical jump.  Unfortunately, Toon has minor injury concerns having missed games in three of his four years at Wisconsin.

We weren’t done there, though. The Vikings have another selection just six picks away. Having already addressed receiver, we decided that if we were going to select again based on need, it should be a inside linebacker. Our GM favored one in particular and, because we managed to override his personal preference on the previous pick, I wasn’t going to contest it at all. Personally, I would have liked to take the other wide receiver we were targeting almost immediately (in fear that he would be taken before our 5.03 pick). But again, I conceded and let him make this decision. So, without further ado…

With the 39th pick (compensatory) of the fourth round of the 2012 #MockThree NFL draft, the Minnesota Vikings select ILB James-Michael Johnson, Nevada.

While Johnson wasn’t my first choice, I was not unhappy with the pick. “JMJ,” as we began to call him in our war room, could immediately compete and provide depth at middle linebacker. JMJ is speedy for his size (6′ 1″, 241 lbs.). He is a natural leader (was the captain for two seasons at Nevada) and constantly had good production. JMJ doesn’t have any injury concerns (I know, rare) and managed to not miss any time during his four seasons. He is good in coverage underneath and does a good job of reading the quarterback’s eyes. Johnson is also a very versatile player having played at both inside and outside linebacker. He would also be a good addition on special teams. My only gripe with Johnson is that he is not an ideal cover-two linebacker, something that may be an issue in the Vikings defense.

I like the speed at 1:32!

Overall, I was pretty happy with our two picks in the fourth round. In my opinion, we managed to pair need and value with the Nick Toon pick. And while Johnson wasn’t my first choice at linebacker, he’s solid (which is evident from the film).

Stay tuned for Round 5 – it should be posted sometime tomorrow. In the meantime, leave your thoughts in the comments and maybe give some names that you think we should target in the seventh round. Also, make sure to visit the #MockThree website and show your support!