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Draft wrap-up 2011... (05/04/2011)
By John Edstrom

...Vikes will soon look different, one way or another

Well fans, the Purple Personnel Pickers took a mighty swing from the heels (to adopt a somewhat inapt baseball metaphor) in last week’s draft, and we won’t know whether they hit a home run or struck out until at least the end of the 2011-12 season, assuming it is played. Their number one pick, QB Christian Ponder, was rated no better than a third rounder early on, but it does appear now that he would not have remained on the board for the Vikes had they traded down. He will either make it as a starting QB or bust, in which case fans of the Purple will have a long time to regret that DT Nick Fairley or CB Prince Amukamara were passed up in Ponder’s favor.

The second round choice, Kyle Rudolph of Notre Dame, was considered the best of a not stellar group of TE’s in this year’s draft, but that position is low on the list of Viking needs. He had a serious hamstring injury, and although his reputation as a receiver is good, reports on his speed in the 40 are mixed.

Fourth round pick Christian Ballard, a defensive tackle out of Iowa, was projected to go as high as the late first round. That is, until he was reported to have tested positive for marijuana at the combine, never a good sign. Last year’s value pick lineman, Everson Griffen, had character issues which dropped him down the charts. He has had run-ins with the police during the off season, and supposedly required a double-tap from the Taser before he was convinced to go quietly...

Those who think the Vikes should have taken sure-thing CB Prince Amakumara with their first pick can take some comfort in getting another corner, Utah’s Brandon Burton, in the fifth round. He has decent speed, size, and skills, and really seems to be a find down this low. He was projected to go as high as the second round. There are no indications that he is anything but a good citizen, even with leadership skills. If Chris Cook and Cedric Griffen can come back from their injuries, last year’s weak defensive backfield could become a strong point.

The Vikes finally took an offensive lineman with the first of their four sixth round picks, DeMarcus Love out of Arkansas, who projected at one point to go as high as the second round, and fell off this far for reasons unknown, not having anything to do with drug-taking or incipient criminality. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to hope he might start sometime next fall.

The Vikes addressed their offensive line problems again with their next sixth rounder, center Brandon Fusco out of little known Slippery Rock, yet another value pick rated as high as the third best at his position in the draft and a fourth-rounder. At the least, he will push John Sullivan for the starting job.

With the last of their sixth rounders the Vikes got another player who slid down the board from as high as the third round, Ohio State’s Ross Homan, an inside linebacker who was first-team All Big Ten his senior year.

So, after taking some big chances early on, the Vikes found consistent value deeper in the draft with a mitt-full of choices. Especially if Christian Ponder pans out, the Vikes could look very different next season, for the better. If he doesn’t, the front office and coaching staff may soon look different.



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