NFL Draft 2017

Grade the Pick: Vikings Select DT Jaleel Johnson at No. 109

The Minnesota Vikings added much-needed depth at defensive tackle this morning, selecting Iowa’s Jaleel Johnson in the fourth round (109) of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Johnson was a full-time starter in 2016, earning first-team All-Conference honors in the Big 10 after a spectacular season inside. He finished the season as the team leader in both tackles for loss (10) and sacks (7.5), a rare feat for any interior defensive lineman.

Continuing with the team’s affinity for versatile athletes, Johnson is a former high school wrestler. Like Minnesota’s second-round selection, Pat Elflein, Johnson brings the explosion, flexibility, and burst of a player with wrestling experience; something Zimmer clearly values in the trenches.

At the time of his selection, Johnson was the 111th player on our consensus big board, making this a slight “reach” against Vikings Territory’s rankings. Still, Johnson is a player who can step in up front and give Zimmer early rotational value as a 3-technique tackle.

Dane Brugler ranked Johnson as the class’s seventh-best defensive tackle, describing him as an explosive athlete who understands leverage and how to find the football. His raw strength and power, though, come with their own faults. Johnson often attacks the line of scrimmage out of control, missing plays in the backfield and overpursuing as a pass rusher.

Still, the NFL’s Lance Zierlein projects Johnson as a productive 3-technique, especially in the pass-rushing role Zimmer covets in his attacking front-seven.

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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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