NFL Draft 2015

Analyzing Vikings Prospects at the 2015 NFL Combine

Most of the contributors at Vikings Territory have published their first-round mock drafts, and the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine is officially over. Some players boosted their stock with impressive 40-yard dash times, while others hurt their value with poor showings in on-field drills. How did our mock first-round picks do in Indianapolis?

Trae Waynes, CB – Michigan State

Adam’s Mock Draft
NamePositionInjuryWed.Thur.Fri. Status
Sendejo, AndrewSKneeDNPDNPDNPOUT
Barr, AnthonyLBHand/groinLimitedDNPLimitedQuestionable
Smith, HarrisonSKneeLimitedLimitedLimitedQuestionable
Blanton, RobertSAnkleFullFullFullProbable
Waynes, TraeCBAnkleFullFullFullProbable

Coming into the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine, Michigan State’s Trae Waynes was Mike Mayock’s top-ranked cornerback. After Monday’s workouts, Waynes solidified his status as this year’s best secondary prospect.

Waynes ran the fastest 40-yard dash among defensive backs, clocking in at a blazing 4.31 seconds. His athletic ability was on full-display during the vertical jump and broad jump, where he measured 38″ and 10’2″ respectively. As soon as Waynes crossed the finish line in the 40-yard dash, Twitter blew up, proclaiming the former Spartan a “top-10” pick in this year’s draft.

As Adam noted in his first mock draft, getting the “best press corner to pair up with Xavier Rhodes could be the next step in putting Mike Zimmer’s defense over the top.” But, what makes Waynes such an exciting prospect?

First, it’s his frame — Waynes is a lanky, long-armed cornerback with the length to defend the NFC North’s taller wide receivers. In his final two seasons, Waynes allowed just two touchdown receptions, a testament to his tremendous body control and coverage skills in 50/50 situations.

Waynes is also well-coached, having played under former Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi. He’s rarely out of position, and has the acceleration and leverage to break on passes anywhere on the field. He’ll need the coaching once he enters the NFL, though, as he makes up for poor footwork with athleticism and tends to grab opposing receivers in coverage — similar to Xavier Rhodes coming out of Florida State.

As ESPN’s Todd McShay said today, Waynes could go as early as 11th-overall to the Vikings.

Shaq Thompson, OLB – Washington

Brett and Austin’s Mock Drafts
NamePositionInjuryWed. Thur.Fri.Status
Dobbs, DemarcusDEConcussionDNPDNPN/AOUT
Lynch, MarshawnRBAbdomenOUTOUTOUTOUT
Richardson, PaulWRHamstringDNPDNPDNPOUT
Burley, MarcusCBAnkleDNPLimitedN/AQuestionable
Tukuafu, WillFBConcussionDNPLimitedN/AQuestionable
Bennett, MichaelDENon-injury related________DNPN/AProbable
Lane, JeremyCBKneeFullFullN/AProbable
Lewis, PatrickCKneeFullFullN/AProbable
Thomas, EarlSHipFullFullN/AProbable

Unlike Waynes, Shaq Thompson didn’t “wow” scouts and analysts at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine. Labeled this year’s most versatile prospect, Thompson came into the week’s workouts with something to prove — that he was as athletic in person as he was on tape.

As the table above shows, the Junior out of Washington measured in at 6’0″, weighing 228 pounds — smaller for an outside linebacker. Thompson’s lack of size may force him to make the move to safety. Teams will need to decide whether Thompson is a “tweener”, or, a player that can make an impact at multiple positions on the field in regular or sub-packages.

In his final season with the Huskies, Thompson recorded 81 tackles, forced two fumbles, and returned an interception for a touchdown. He consistently made plays in coverage, and could be an ideal fit as Chad Greenway’s replacement at weakside linebacker in the near future.

Thompson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.64 seconds, slower than many scouts had predicted. On film, he displayed explosive speed and quickness, but lacked that same burst on the field in Indianapolis. Although he showcased fluidity and smooth hips during on-field positional drills, Thompson’s pedestrian measurables are a concern moving forward.

Anthony Barr was a similarly confounding prospect in 2014, having played just two years of football at UCLA. The Vikings selected Barr with the 9th-overall pick, and Mike Zimmer turned the raw player into the Vikings’ best linebacker. If Rick Spielman and the front office take another chance in this year’s draft, the Vikings could potentially field two of the league’s most athletic linebackers in 2015.

Brandon Scherff, OG – Iowa

Brent’s Mock Draft
Anthony BarrLBGroin/HandDNPDNPLPOut
Scott CrichtonDEConcussion/NeckDNPDNPDNPOut
Charles JohnsonWRAnkleDNPLPOut
Harrison SmithSKnee/HamstringLPLPDNPOut
Everson GriffenDEShoulderDNPDNPLPQuestionable
Linval JosephDTFootDNPLPLPQuestionable
Robert BlantonSKneeFPFPFPProbable
Andrew SendejoSKneeLPFPFPProbable
Brandon WattsLBRibLPFPFPProbable

In last year’s 2014 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected Notre Dame’s Zack Martin with the 16th-overall pick. A left tackle in college, Martin quickly made the transition to guard with the Cowboys and finished the season as one of the game’s better interior offensive linemen.

Like Martin before him, Iowa’s Brandon Scherff will most likely make the transition to guard in the NFL. At the Combine, Scherff ran the 40-yard dash in 5.05 seconds, showcasing the athleticism that made him a deft pass blocker in college. He also measured in at 6’5″ and 319 pounds — enough size to move defenders in the run game.

As we all know, Matt Kalil struggled in 2014, battling through a knee injury and a slew of mental lapses. He shored up his game in the latter half of the season, as he didn’t allow a sack in the final 5 games. With the needle trending upward, Kalil will get one more shot to prove he’s worth a long-term contract with the Vikings.

That decision will force Scherff to kick inside if drafted by the Vikings, where he may be better suited as a nasty, run-blocking specialist. Right now, Scherff struggles as a pass protector, especially against quicker edge rushers. He’s more of a mauler than a finesse, technically sound left tackle, and those deficiencies would be masked with a shift to left guard. In the trenches, he’d have the luxury of a smaller “platform”, where his exceptional strength and lateral footwork would shine.

As the draft’s highest-rated offensive linemen, Scherff may be gone before the Vikings select with the 11th-overall pick. If he’s available, Rick Spielman and the front office may seriously consider pulling the trigger — it would result in an immediate improvement to the team’s run game and pass protection.

DeVante Parker, WR – Louisville

Carl’s Mock Draft
Andre EllingtonRBToeDNPDNPDNPOut
Jermaine GreshamTEKneeDNPDNPDNPDoubtful
Tony JeffersonSHamstringDNPLPLPQuestionable
Jerraud PowersCBCalfDNPDNPDNPOut
Frostee RuckerDTAnkleDNPDNPDNPOut
John BrownWRHamstringLPLPFPProbable
Larry FitzgeraldWRAnkleLPLPFPProbable
Michael FloydWRHamstringLPLPFPProbable
Rashad JohnsonSAnkleLPLPFPProbable
Mike LeachLSKneeLPFPFPProbable
Cory ReddingDTAnkleLPLPLPQuestionable
Stepfan TaylorRBShoulderLPLPFPProbable
Earl WatfordT/GHand______DNPIRIR

Like the 2014 NFL Draft class, this year’s group of wide receivers is extremely deep and talented. Alabama’s Amari Cooper and West Virginia’s Kevin White are widely considered the top two receivers, but Louisville’s DeVante Parker quietly put together an impressive season last year.

He finished the injury-shortened 2014 season with 43 catches for 855 yards and 5 touchdowns, averaging 19.9 yards per catch. As Carl highlighted earlier this month, Parker possesses an excellent release off the line of scrimmage, as well as soft hands and a wide catch radius. With Teddy Bridgewater as his quarterback from 2011-2013, Parker used that skill set to catch 113 passes for 1,920 yards and 28 touchdowns.

At the Combine, Parker ran the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds, finishing behind Cooper and the surprisingly fast White. However, he jumped 36.5″ inches during the vertical, using his 6’3″ frame and 33-1/4″ arms to showcase his lanky frame.

As mentioned above, Parker and Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater played three seasons together at Lousville, and the former Cardinals receiver had a chance to meet with Vikings officials during the Combine. “That would be really good to reunite with (Bridgewater),” Parker said last Thursday. “We’ve got a good connection. That would be a good thing.”

Who Will We Pick Next?

It’s still too early to tell who the Vikings will select with the 11th-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, but it’s always enjoyable to see how our potential first-round picks performed at the Combine. We’ll update our Mock Drafts throughout the offseason as free agency approaches.

Check back soon for the latest Vikings news and exciting changes to all of the Vikings Territory Mock Drafts!




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Austin Belisle

Austin Belisle is the West Coast's biggest Vikings fan, a football diehard cheering on the purple and yellow from sunny California. After graduating from San Jose State University in 2014, he began working full-time in corporate marketing and blogging on various sports websites. Austin's passion for the Vikings led him to Vikings Territory, where he hopes to share his lifelong enthusiasm for the team with readers on a daily basis. You can follow him on Twitter @austincbelisle

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  1. Still struggling to understand the repeated mocking of Brandon Scherff to MN @ 11. Everything I’ve seen on him suggests that he projects as a guard and Spielman has demonstrated an aversion to drafting interior lineman on the first two days of the draft. If Scherff truly projects as a G, then I simply fail to see his positional value at 11.

    1. I’m torn. On one hand I agree with you (I’ve said the same thing myself) but on the other, adding a sure thing at Guard (most agree he’s an immediate pro-bowl caliber player at that position) could do wonders for our offensive line and Teddy.

      1. yeah, fair enough. I guess I personally wouldn’t be opposed to a G early. It’s just that, if one of the primary points is to get insurance for Kalil, then the above-listed description of Scherff as one who struggles in pass protection (particularly against quicker edge rushers) is not exactly a ringing endorsement. and we already seem to have a couple of tackles who fit this description…

      2. Brett, the problem is a lot of these first round guards haven’t really turned out to be the dominant guards they were projected to be. I know it is early, but since 2010 we’ve seen DeCastro, Cooper, Watkins, Warmack and Zeilter drafted, some of them earning far higher praise then Scherff has and while some of them are solid players none of them are dominant. Only Kyle long and Martin last year have made the pro bowl in that time.

        But I do agree, that if he lived up to his billing it would do wonders for our offense and teddy. I just think we could get more overall improvement by drafting a guard in the second or third round and a CB or something in the first.

        1. Yeah I hear you. At least we all still have some time up to make up our minds… Who knows what will happen in FA.

  2. Have you even watched Shaq’s tape? I have watched 7 games and am not impressed. He does not want to tackle. He disappears from the game. Plus he is slow and undersized.

    1. I’ve watched some Shaq tape — he’s got the ability to move around on defense. I’d disagree that he “doesn’t want to tackle”. If anything, its more about form and the way he goes about tackling, i.e. going for the strip or the big play. With that being said, I do agree that he’s undersized.

      I like him as more of an outside linebacker/in-the-box safety than I do in the middle. He’s great in pass coverage and clearly has the Football IQ to play multiple positions. His style isn’t smash-mouth, but more pursuit, chase-down at the second level.

      While I’d say he might not be worthy of the 11th-overall pick, I wouldn’t be shocked if he did go to the Vikings with this pick. From all indications, he’s got a good head on his shoulders and doesn’t bring drama to the field. If I were in Spielman’s shoes right now, I’d go with Scherff if he’s available.

  3. I know it’s probably unwise to change selection based on combine results, but – – – I’m going to do it anyway. I really like the looks of Vic Beasley over Shaq. And it’s not as if Vic was ever low on the list, he’s a 2-time All American and a ferocious edge rusher. I could see him playing outside BRob. He might not be the “swiss army knife” that Shaq is but he’s both faster and stronger. Thoughts?

    1. I personally don’t think it’s close. I have Beasley as my #1 Edge Rusher and think Thompson is being vastly overrated based on his potential. There are also very different players and I wouldn’t compare the two against one another.

  4. Trae Waynes was my number one pick before the combine, and his performance solidified my choice. My second choice is not listed here, safety Landon Colllins. Ultimately though I think Speilman trades down a few spots with some team that covets one of the top WR’s or edge rushers, should one fall.

  5. David,
    I also like Beasley over Shaq. I realize Beasley was an edge rusher at Clemson and rarely dropped into coverage. He is not your traditional 4-3 OLB that’s for sure, but I might be willing to bet Zimmer will give him a good look as a standup 4-3 linebacker.

    A Barr had some similar question marks and most Vikings fans didn’t give him much of a chance of landing with the Vikings either.

    With that said, Beasley is much better against the pass than playing the run. Some of his pursuit angle and effort in run support might not wow Zimmer the way Shaq will.

    But Beasley’s up side and pass rush ability is certainly through the roof. If he doesn’t work out as an OLB, bulk him up a bit and move him to DE to replace Robison.

  6. Shaq Thompson isn’t so impressive after watching some games. I think he would be a reach at #11. I would add Landon Collins to this list and I think I would be OK with any of them.


  7. Reality being we’re still 2 FA periods and 2 drafts away from building the roster of a legitimate playoff contender, this FA and draft period is not a time to reach for a player but time to make safe educated choices. FA I would spend wisely as Rick typically does, look for that LG like Boling or CB like Maxwell and put your best reasonable offer on the table. Hopefully we land one of the two but if neither no worry on to the draft.

    This is the first BPA position the Vikes have been in for a while not having to strategize around needing a QB. Trading down and acquiring picks at some point is key and why Rick likes to hit that 10 pick sweet spot to maximize prospects and find those hidden gems like Fusco and Stephens in mid to late rd’s.
    If a trade down at 11 fine, we pick up more 2-3 rd picks and still have a mid to late 1st for a player like Thompson, Peters, DGB or maybe Waynes.
    If picking at 11 my board bpa of likely available players goes Cooper, Scherff, Waynes, Shelton, Beasley, Clemmings,
    Any would be an immediate starter or rotation as they develop into a starter by mid to late season.
    We then have likely only a few needs with the 2016 FA and Draft to put the finishing touches on a legitimate playoff contender.

  8. Shaq Thompson is one of the most common prospects mocked to the Vikings but I’m curious why a guy like Eric Kendricks never is. Personally I think Kendricks is a better player. You may argue that his ceiling isn’t nearly as high as Thompsons but you must also ask how much can you base a draft pick off of potential compared to proven abilities. I encourage everyone to watch some tape on Kendricks. Like every year a lot will change from now until late April. Thanks Austin.