2011 Vikings Mock Draft: Take 1

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As promised, we have rolled out our first take of the “Vikings Mock Draft”. A pick has been slotted to each round breaking down the player and why they’d make sense for our favorite team. While trades can be expected on draft day, they are not a part of this post. We also will have other takes in the weeks ahead. Feel free to post comments below on what you agree or disagree with. And of course, we’re always up for discussion on Twitter. Away we go…

1st Round, 12th Overall: Jake Locker – QB – Washington

Leslie Frazier has made it no secret that he’d like to acquire a quarterback in the draft and use them early. He’d said on numerous occasions that the Vikings are “looking up” to the rest of the division on the games most important division. Frazier’s also gone so far to say that he would rather draft a QB than bring in a veteran free agent because there is (his words, not mine) “No sense in bringing in a veteran guy who could stunt that guy’s growth. If you thought you had a Joe Flacco type or a Matt Ryan type, why would you go in that direction?”

So there we have it. New regimes almost always mean new QBs with Bill Musgrave needing a new pupil after saying goodbye to Matt Ryan. Had Locker gone pro last year, he undoubtedly would have been a top 5 pick. This past year he has been criticized for his passing accuracy, history of battling injuries and not winning very many games at the University of Washington (in Locker’s defense, the Huskies had next to no other highly skilled players on offense). That being said, Locker does have the arm strength, size, speed and leadership qualities you look for in a franchise QB. Anyone who watched the Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger knows how much the NFL values QBs who can extend plays with their feet and throw on the move.

Plus, we already know Locker looks good in purple and gold.

2nd Round, 43rd Overall: Rahim Moore – S – UCLA

The Vikings need to make a splash in the secondary. Cornerback Antoine Winfield has been a beast throughout his entire career, but turns 34 this summer. Both cornerbacks in Cedric Griffin and Chris Cook are coming off of injuries and Asher Allen has not shown enough to enter the discussion of being a long-term fit at that position.

The safety position is in even worse shape. Husain Abdullah showed promise as first year starter, but Tyrell Johnson was inactive for much of last season due to poor performance, Jamarca Sanford has been at best a solid backup and the play of Madieu Williams has not nearly justified the $33 million contract he signed 3 years ago.

Today Frazier hinted that Williams and Johnson would be competing for the second starting safety spot opposite Abdullah. Listen Leslie, we understand there’s a lockout going on right now prohibiting player transactions and you have to speak kindly about players on your roster… But safeties that are due $4 million next season don’t show up to camp to compete for a starting spot. They’re cut!

And any time you have the chance to add the best safety in the draft in the 2nd round, you jump on it. Rahim Moore was a two time All-American at UCLA. He is considered the drafts best ball hawk in terms of breaking up passes and hauling in interceptions (he lead the NCAA with 9 in his sophomore season). Moore is also not someone that will intimidate offenses as heavy hitter, but is considered a sure tackler and has the character teams look for.

4th Round, 105th Overall: Lance Kendricks – TE – Wisconsin

The Vikings are getting way too long in the tooth to ignore this position in the draft. Visanthe Shiancoe turns 31 this summer, Jeff Dugan turns 30 and Jim Kleinsasser is 34 (although Kleinsasser is mostly used for run blocking and hasn’t scored a TD since ’07). Shiancoe is also in the last year of his contract with no guarantees that he’ll be back in 2012.

Getting the productive Kendricks in the 4th round would inject youth into the position. He has Midwest roots being from Milwaukee and going to Wisconsin. Plus he has good measurables running a 4.5 40-yard dash and a 38” vertical. He catches a clean ball and was a favorite of Badger QB Scott Tolzien with 43 receptions for 663 yards and 5 TDs.

5th Round, 136th Overall: Sione Fua – DT – Stanford

Our fabled Williams Wall has likely played its last game together. Pat Williams expected to play for another team next year saying he no longer trusts the Vikings. Fred Evans also was not tendered, Jimmy Kennedy was not a factor last season and as it stands now Letroy Guion is expected to start at DT.

Fua flew underneath the radar as a run-stopper for the Cardinal, as opposing offenses almost always had had to throw against them. It’s not easy matching points with an Andrew Luck led offense. But watching tape of Fua, he was debatably the best player on that defense oftentimes drawing double-teams. He also was a very good gap plugger to stop the run and had 4.5 sacks as a senior.

5th Round, 147th Overall: Brandon Fusco – C – Slippery Rock

Your John Sullivan supporters would point out that he is entering only his 3rd year of starting at the position and has had to overcome both injuries and personal problems at the position while replacing former fan favorite Matt Birk. Your John Sullivan critics would just talk about how much they miss Matt Birk. They’d also point out the Sullivan is a below average center who is not nearly physical enough to play the position and the thought alone of him trying to block Ndamukong Suh twice a year is terrifying.

At any rate, a little competition brought in may do the team some good. At 6’4”, 300 lbs Fusco is one of the most intriguing small school products in the draft. He won the Gene Upshaw award this past season for being the best offensive lineman in D-II football and was also invited to the Senior Bowl. Fusco also has experience at playing guard, so could develop into a swing backup if he’s not seen as the long-term fit at center.

6th Round, 167th Overall: Doug Hogue – OLB – Syracuse

Weak-side linebacker Ben Leber is a free agent and may not be back. Behind him Erin Henderson and Kenny Onatolu have been assets on special teams, but have minimal in-game experience beyond that.

Hogue is a tackling machine that great athleticism, is an asset in both run and pass defense. He also is a great team player and never wants to come off the field. Hogue could add depth to the position and also add value on special teams.

7th Round, 205th Overall: Willie Smith – OT – East Carolina

At some point, the Vikings have the send a message to Bryant McKinnie. They’ve got to be frustrated with his fluctuating weight, questionable work ethic and $100,000 bar tabs. While spending a 7th round pick on an offensive tackle may not be sending that strong of a message, point is sooner or later he will be replaced.

Smith started his final 27 games at left tackle for East Carolina helping them to be on of the finest passing offenses in the country. He also is seen as a project at tackle as a former defensive lineman. Perhaps a year on the practice squad would help his development and the occasional whippings from Jared Allen in camp.

That’s it for now. Back with more takes another day.

Jon Merckle may be followed on Twitter @thevikingpig

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