The 2016 NFL Draft has been over and done with for quite some time now. However, there are still plenty of people making sure they get their opinions on this year’s draft class heard.
Jon Ledyard is the Senior NFL Draft Analyst for USA TODAY’s Draft Wire website. He was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding the Minnesota Vikings incoming group of rookies and give everyone an idea of what the team can expect from this year’s draft class.
Q: They may not admit it, but the Vikings first wide receiver on their draft board may not have been Laquon Treadwell. However, will Treadwell become a better fit for Teddy Bridgewater’s skill set than a receiver like Josh Doctson would have?
Ledyard: I think so. In my evaluation, I saw Treadwell as the superior route-runner to Doctson and his ability to win in the short game and turn small gains into big ones will add an important dimension to the Vikings offense. Doctson is an excellent vertical threat with the ability to reel in YOLO balls and play above the rim at a high level, but that doesn’t really match Teddy Bridgewater’s style as closely as it did Trevone Boykin’s in college. I see Bridgewater as more of a rhythm-based, pick-a-defense apart type of passer, who will thrive with a big, powerful target like Treadwell posting up all over the field.
Q: Besides Treadwell, are there any players from this year’s Minnesota draft class that could make an impact for them in 2016?
Ledyard: I think Mackensie Alexander could step into the starting nickel cornerback spot in training camp, if he can beat out Captain Munnerlyn. The rest of Minnesota’s secondary (Trae Waynes, Xavier Rhodes, Terence Newman) are more outside corners, and I’m confident Alexander is physically and mentally capable of wrestling the job away from Munnerlyn in camp.
Q: Vikings sixth round selection Moritz Böhringer is coming into the offseason with a ton of hype, but how steep is the hill that the german wide receiver must climb in order to actually make Minnesota’s opening day roster?
Ledyard: The biggest thing Böhringer will need to adjust to at the NFL level is the physicality of professional defensive backs. He’s been commonly described as a “nice” kid, but that disposition better come with a side of nasty, because corners are going to want to jam him up with something fierce at the line of scrimmage. Böhringer has the size and length to combat the press, but mastering the technical aspects of the position will take time.
Q: Some draft boards had Western Michigan tackle Willie Beavers ranked at the very bottom in his position group. So what would possess the Vikings to take him in the fourth round?
Ledyard: I had Beavers as a fifth round value. He reminds me of Jaguars offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum in his build, with short arms but quick feet to defend the edge. He definitely needs time and development, but Beavers was one of the few solid “upside” offensive tackles I would have been ok with on day three in this class, so I like the move by Minnesota, even if they decide to put him at guard. Remember, the Vikings have very few needs on their roster, so finding offensive line depth with the athleticism and demeanor you want at the position is worth taking a risk on.
Q: Mackensie Alexander ranked 24th overall on your final big board, yet he managed to fall to Minnesota in the second round. Will Alexander make the teams that passed on him regret their decision?
Ledyard: I think so. Alexander can rub some people the wrong way, but that won’t be the case with Mike Zimmer. I love players who are brash and confident, yet also show the intelligence and consistent high level of play to back up their chirping. People don’t appreciate how much Alexander was asked to do in Clemson’s defense, and he excelled at it. At worst he’ll be a stud nickel defender in the NFL, a highly valued position in today’s pass-heavy league.
Q: Linebacker Kentrell Brothers led the nation in total tackles while at Missouri in 2015. Any chance he is able to lead the NFL in that same category within the next five seasons?
Ledyard: Brothers is the kind of player who always finds himself around the football, it just might be several yards downfield. He’s not a gap-shooter or a particularly explosive player, but he sifts through trash well and generally keeps his feet active enough to at least participate in the tackle. I’d say the odds are stacked against him because of his two-down limitations, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become a starter with his instincts and smarts.
Q: Would safety Jayron Kearse have benefitted more by staying at Clemson for another season or will the coaching abilities of Mike Zimmer prove to be just as valuable?
Ledyard: Kearse has a lot of issues, and I’m not sure Minnesota will have the time or patience for his effort concerns. There are a number of solid options for Minnesota at safety currently on the roster, so Kearse will have to show up early and often to avoid being cut in camp.
Q: Are there any undrafted rookies signed by the Vikings that have any chance at making Minnesota’s 2016 roster?
Ledyard: They’re all long shots on a roster this deep, but (linebacker) Jake Ganus could catch on somewhere in the NFL as a special teamer, and (running back) Jhurell Pressley could push Matt Asiata for a spot behind Adrian Peterson.