5 Players to Watch at the NFL Combine – Kirby O’Connor
Andre Dillard, Offensive Lineman, Washington State
The Vikings should be looking at offensive line prospects at every pick they have, so you could put anybody here. I’m going with Dillard, specifically in his work in drills, because when I watched his performance in the Senior Bowl, I was not impressed. The concern with Dillard is his strength. He moves incredibly well, but the question is if he can stand up to rushers at the next level. Linemen don’t need to be fully polished, but the combine is a great time to see how they are able to move their feet, and if their legs can support them through the drills.
Other Players to watch: Cody Ford, Dalton Risner, Nate Herbig
Irv Smith Jr., Tight End, Alabama
Irv Smith has been a sexy pick for Minnesota if they want to move on from Kyle Rudolph this year. Smith looks to be an excellent full-time tight end with the ability to block, run good routes, and pick up yards after the catch. The concern with Smith is that with his 6-foot 3-inch frame he doesn’t have ability to make contested catches that some of the other tight ends can. The Vikings should only go with a high pick, like Smith should be, if they need him to replace Rudolph day one. Otherwise, the Vikings should consider late round options and undrafted free agents to join the two guys playing behind Rudy right now, David Morgan and Tyler Conklin.
Other Players to watch: Noah Fant, Zach Gentry, Josh Oliver
Vosean Joseph, Linebacker, Florida
The Vikings will probably be looking to replace Anthony Barr, since we haven’t heard much
about a contract extension, yet. The outside linebacker position can be key in Zimmer’s
defense, and Joseph is a guy with the speed to play in space. Even more appealing is that he is projected to go somewhere in the 2nd round so he could be had for a relatively cheap price. The concern in Joseph’s game is his strength, but he could always pack on some extra muscle at the next level, just get him on Danielle Hunter’s diet plan.
Other Players to watch: Devin Bush, Devin White, Blake Cashman
Ryan Finley, Quarterback, NC State
It has already been suggested that the Vikings should draft an insurance policy for Kirk Cousins. Finley is an experienced player already, being a 6th year senior, so he might have the ability to slot in if Cousins goes down for any significant amount of time. Finley threw for almost 4,000 yards in his final season at NC State, but doesn’t seem to have an overly strong arm. If the Vikings were to take a chance on the 6-foot 4-inch NC State product, it would have to be if he falls a bit and they can get him in the late 3rd or early 4th round. Personally, I would rather see them try to pick up a good undrafted free agent and work him behind Cousins for 2 years.
Other players to watch: Will Grier, Easton Stick, Clayton Thorson
Damien Harris, Running Back, Alabama
The Vikings were unable to run the ball last season, especially in short yardage situations. If they don’t see the answer in improving the offensive line, they might see picking up a new short yardage back as the solution. Damien Harris would be a decent replacement for Latavius Murray, if a bit shorter. Harris’ biggest issue has been with his inability to make people miss and create explosive plays, but the Vikings already have that with Dalvin Cook. If the Vikings want to pick up a guy who can spell Cook and create a solid two-back stable, they might consider going after Harris in the 2nd round, or potentially in the 3rd.
Other players to watch: David Montgomery, LJ Scott, Elijah Holyfield