With this week’s restructuring of defensive tackle Kevin Williams’ contract, the Minnesota Vikings face a unique situation along their defensive line. The team’s best four defensive lineman-Williams, Jared Allen, Brian Robison and Everson Griffen-are all not under contract beyond next season right now.
Adding some depth and upside along the defensive line was already a need for the Vikings, so it’s unlikely their plans for next week’s draft will change greatly with the altering of Williams’ contract. Many mock drafts have Minnesota using one of their first-round picks on a defensive lineman, but using a later pick to add another young player to the mix is also a strong possibility.
William Gholston entered Michigan State as a five-star recruit, and he put together a productive campaign in his first season as a starter in 2011 (70 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and five sacks). On the heels of another solid season as junior in 2012, with 59 tackles (13 tackles for loss), 4.5 sacks and 10 pass breakups, he chose to forego his senior season and enter the draft.
Gholston is not among the top defensive lineman in this year’s class, but is he a fit for the Vikings? Let’s take a closer look at him.
Weight: 281 lbs.
– Has excellent size and length; looks the part
– Shows good initial thrust and has the strength to overwhelm blockers
– Plays with good leverage; shows ability to be a disruptive force
– Shows good agility and athleticism
– Lacks passion, intensity and aggression
– Does not have a wide array of pass rush moves
– Struggles to use his hands and disengage from blockers at times
– Is not an efficient mover; takes too many steps to get going
Gholston is a raw prospect that would have benefited from another year in college to refine his technique, but his physical tools and upside may be hard for teams to ignore. He projects best as a 3-4 defensive end right now, but adding some pass rush moves or some bulk could allow him to play end or tackle in a 4-3 scheme down the road.
The Vikings have the players in place along the defensive line to push Gholston to improve his overall work habits and intensity, and that alone may bolster their interest in him as a developmental prospect. But in terms of a pure scheme fit, there are likely to be better options available if Minnesota uses a mid-round pick on a defensive lineman.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.