The Minnesota Vikings had one of the league’s worst defenses in 2013, as they allowed a league-high 37 passing touchdowns and 30 points per game. So defense was a top priority during this year’s draft, and two of their first four picks were used on that side of the ball. The Vikings wound up with six picks picks during the final four rounds of the draft on Saturday, and five of the six selections were used on defensive players.
Here’s a closer look at Minnesota’s Day 3 haul.
Pick No. 145- David Yankey, OG, Stanford
Yankey started two seasons at left guard and one at left tackle during his college career, so he brings some versatility and potential competition for underwhelming veteran left guard Charlie Johnson.
Pick No. 182- Antone Exum, DB, Virginia Tech
Exum’s senior season was wrecked by a torn ACL and an ankle injury, but he was an All-ACC performer in both 2011 and 2012. His size (6’0″, 213 lbs.) and experience at both corner and safety should fit well in the Vikings’ new defensive scheme.
Pick No. 184- Kendall James, CB, Maine
James ran a 4.40 40-yard dash and posted a 39-inch vertical leap at the NFL Combine, and he played 48 games for the Bears. James should be in the mix for a roster spot.
Pick No. 220- Shamar Stephen, DT, UConn
Stephen was a four-year starter at UConn and is coming off a productive senior season (60 tackles, 10 tackles for loss). His size (6’5″, 313 lbs.) seems conducive to playing nose tackle at the next level, but Stephen’s ability to also play three-technique could help him stick.
Pick No. 223- Brandon Watts, OLB, Georgia Tech
Watts started 12 games at outside linebacker in 2013 as the Yellow Jackets moved to a 4-3 defensive scheme, totaling 66 tackles (3.5 for loss), 2.5 sacks and an interception. Since he played in a 3-4 prior to last season, Watts’ scheme versatility may be what stood out about him to the Vikings’ brass.
Pick No. 225- Jabari Price, CB, North Carolina
Price had 156 total tackles and 19 pass breakups over his final two college seasons, and he has an intriguing blend of solid size (5’10”, 200 lbs) and good speed (4.44 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine).
Late-round picks often have an uphill to climb to earn a roster spot and stick in the NFL, but the Vikings clearly had a plan to add depth and competition on defense during Saturday’s rounds. I think Yankey, Exum and Stephen are virtual locks to be on the 53-man roster coming out of training camp, while James, Price and Watts will have to stand out in deep position groups to make it to that point and all three may find their way to the practice squad.