Our 2014 Vikings Rookie Preview series continues today with the first defensive back the Vikings took in the draft, all the way in the sixth round. Better late than never, however, as the team got a possible contributor right away if he stays healthy.
Antone Exum, S – Virginia Tech
Taken in 6th Round, 182nd overall by Vikings
Age: 23; Height: 5-11; Weight: 213
40 Yard Dash: 4.53; Bench: 17; Vertical Jump: 35; Short Shuttle: 4.13; 3-Cone Drill: 7.05
2010 Stats (14 games, 5 starts): 45 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 0 interceptions, 9 passes defensed
2011 Stats (14 games, 14 starts): 89 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 interception, 11 passes defensed
2012 Stats (13 games, 13 starts): 48 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 5 interceptions, 21 passes defensed
2013 Stats (3 games, 3 starts): 4 tackles, 0 sacks, 0 interceptions, 1 pass defensed
*Scouting information primarily from Dane Brugler of CBS Sports
Exum is a little bit of a tweener, as he has imposing size for a cornerback but isn’t huge for a safety, where he will start his career with the Vikings. There is a chance he could play a hybrid role on defense though, like the team used Robert Blanton a little bit last year (due to injuries).
Exum has great movement skills, able to change direction quickly to make plays on the football. In addition he also has great awareness on the field, which allows him to find the football frequently.
Exum is very physical out on the football field, with an attacking mentality in press coverage and while tackling. He isn’t afraid to lay big hits on opposing receivers, and is very aggressive out on the field.
Exum’s aggressive mentality is both a blessing and a curse, as it can cause him to get beat on some plays and will draw some flags at the next level. It is likely at least partially to blame for his injury history while in college.
Exum tore his ACL during the 2013 offseason, and he will need to show that he is healthy to be a contributor.
Exum doesn’t have elite speed, and can sometimes get beat when he has a false step in coverage. He will have to clean up his technique a little bit to contribute at the next level, but if he can get healthy he could very well be a starter down the line.
Spot on the Depth Chart:
The Vikings have said they want to put Exum at safety, where he will likely be placed on the strong side behind Jamarcus Sanford and Mistral Raymond.
In order to make the Vikings opening day roster, Exum will have to beat out some of the other safeties on the depth chart as well such as Brandon Bishop and Robert Blanton.
Exum’s hard-hitting and tackling ability will also give him a chance to stick out on special teams, which will be the fastest way for him to make an impact on the field.
Odds of Making Roster: Possible
The Vikings kept five safeties on their opening day roster last year, as did Mike Zimmer and the Cincinnati Bengals. With Harrison Smith and Jamarca Sanford almost locks to make the roster, Exum will have to stand out among the depth at the position.
That means Exum will have to beat out the fourth and fifth safeties from the depth chart last year, Robert Blanton and Mistral Raymond, if he wants to crack the final 53.
Exum even has a slight edge in the competition since he was drafted under the new coaching staff, rather than being a Fraizer holdover. If he can make a couple of impact tackles in training camp and preseason, and most importantly, stay healthy, Exum has a great shot of landing on Mike Zimmer’s first Vikings roster.