The Vikings may very well target defensive tackle with their first round pick this year. We have to face the reality that Kevin Williams is fading as a player. Williams has two years left on his contract but may have to renegotiate if he wants to stay a Viking. If Williams goes, obviously the Vikes will need to replace him. Even if Williams stays, the Vikes will need to infuse some fresh blood into the interior of the defensive line and cut back on Williams’ snaps.
Luckily for the Vikes, there is a wealth of defensive tackle talent in this year’s draft. One of the names getting early buzz is Kawann Short of Purdue. Short is seen as an ideal 4-3 3-tech, the same position Kevin Williams has held down for a decade. Short is a penetrator who not only plays well against the run but gets after the QB. In other words, he could be a perfect K-Will replacement.
Short got plenty of attention during this week’s Senior Bowl practices. Here’s what NFL.com writer Bucky Brooks had to say about the 6-3, 315 pound Boilermaker:
Scouts have been raving about Short’s potential as a three-technique in a one-gap scheme after watching him terrorize opponents with his combination of quickness and agility in drills. The former Purdue standout has shown rare lateral quickness for a pass rusher his size (6-3, 315), and scouts definitely are intrigued by his ability to disrupt plays with his athleticism. Although Short’s energy and effort aren’t always running at high levels, the fact that he has shown dominant flashes throughout the week will convince a number of teams that he has the potential to become a difference maker as a pro.
A difference maker is what the Vikings need on the interior of their defensive line. Not just vanilla rotational players like Fred Evans and Christian Ballard. The statements about Short’s occasional lapses of energy and effort must give you pause, but there’s no doubt the talent is there. I have to believe this guy is on the Vikings’ list and will be an option at #23.