Vikings Draft Clip Confirms Rookie Theory

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The Vikings released a video on all platforms that shows some intel from the draft, including strategic things and private conversations between Kevin O’Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.

Jordan Addison certainly highlighted the video. He hung up on his new head coach and other members of the coaching staff. The young guy was overwhelmed by having to go onto the stage, talk to his new bosses, and celebrate with his family all at the same time. It was a fun little gaffe, and the people involved can laugh about it now. The video also revealed some other interesting nuggets.

Vikings Draft Clip Confirms Rookie Theory

Brian Flores needed some more talent on the roster for the necessary defensive turnaround, but the Vikings addressed the offense in the first round and didn’t have a second-round pick because of the T.J. Hockenson trade. Third-rounder Mekhi Blackmon was the first player picked on the defensive side of the ball, but he wasn’t the last.

Vikings Draft Clip Confirms Rookie Theory
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Defensive back Jay Ward joined the Vikes in the fourth round, and speculations about him immediately started. Is he a safety or a cornerback? Why did the Vikings draft another safety? Can and will he play in the slot?

The easy answer is actually a complicated one. He is all of the above, simply a versatile defensive back. Flores can use him wherever he needs some help. In his final season at LSU, Ward played in every spot imaginable. According to PFF, the 22-year-old Ward lined up in the slot on 230 snaps as an outside CB 178 times and had 104 snaps as a safety. 108 came in the box and 13 on the defensive line. That shows Ward’s intelligence. He was one of the vocal leaders on LSU’s defense, and he helped his teammates line up correctly on the field.

Minnesota needs help at one position — in the slot. Nickel cornerback Chandon Sullivan departed after one season with the team and joined the Steelers during the draft. On the current roster, Ward is the only one with extensive experience of playing inside. In the draft video, right before the Vikings made the call, O’Connell and Adofo-Mensah talked about the rookie: “That’s where I’m kinda leaning, Jay Ward,” said Adofo-Mensah and added: “I think this guy could be a good nickel.” O’Connell responded: “[He’s a] classic Flo (Brian Flores) guy. They’ll find a home for him.”

Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores in Miami Gardens, September 15, 2019. © Allen Eyestone via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

The Vikings made the call and picked up Ward to help their defense. Adofo-Mensah confirmed in the video that Ward should be considered the top option in the slot. Ward is a classic Flo guy because he is versatile and tough. The pick immediately screamed Flores. The same thing can be said about Mekhi Blackmon, the third-round pick. Whenever those two guys were described, the word toughness was the first to come out. Flores seems to want to build a defensive group filled with cynoid and hard-nosed players.

The secondary is undergoing a lot of changes, and it led to uncertainty. Byron Murphy, the free agent signing, will start at one cornerback spot, and Harrison Smith, the iconic Vikings safety, will take one spot. All other positions are up for grabs. Blackmon and last year’s rookies Andrew Booth and Akayleb Evans are considered the top guys for the reaming outside CB spot, Ward is the best option inside, but Blackmon also hinted at his ability to play in the slot. That will be an interesting competition in training camp.

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Another mystery is the second safety spot. Lewis Cine was a first-round pick last year, but he couldn’t get past Camryn Bynum to see the field before his injury. He is uber-talented, but he has to prove that he, in fact, is the better player short-term and long-term. Special teams ace Josh Metellus has an outside chance to win the starting gig because he played extremely well when given the chance to contribute.

Flores will have a lot of options to choose from. Obviously, he had a say in who the team should target in the draft, so it is fair to assume that he was an advocate of Blackmon and Ward, which doesn’t decrease their chances to earn meaningful playing time early in their Vikings tenure.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt