Time flies. We’re now just one week away from the 2015 NFL draft. The Vikings top needs right now are as follows: cornerback, linebacker, left guard, wide receiver and possibly safety and running back depending on how the Tradrian Peterson situation is handled. While the first round will likely result in the Vikings addressing cornerback, linebacker, or wide receiver, the second round is a wild card. After a disastrous 2014 for the Vikings O-line and with a young quarterback at a pivotal point in his development, it would be in the Vikings best interest to invest a high draft pick in the o-line. The only player that really warrants any consideration at #11 overall would be Brandon Scherff, whom may not even be on the board. After Scherff, the name La’el Collins comes to mind, but he would be a reach at 11 and will likely be gone in the low 20s. Enter A.J. Cann, left guard out of South Carolina. In this article, I will list his combine measurements and pro day drill results (Unfortunately Cann was unable to participate in combine drills other than the bench press), break down his game tape and give a pro-player comparison.
Combine Measurements and Drill Results:
Nov 22, 2014; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks guard A.J. Cann (50) and offensive tackle Corey Robinson (53) in the second half at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
Weight: 313 lbs
Arm Length: 32 5/8”
Hand Size: 10 1/4”
40-Yard Dash: 5.46 seconds
Vertical Jump: 32 1/2” (Very good number for a guard)
Broad Jump: 9′ 1”
Bench Press Reps: 26 (Combine); 30 (Pro Day)
Game Tape Breakdown:
+ Good upper and lower body build that he uses to his advantage. Consistently generates power in the run game and is able to get into his stance quickly which helps him tremendously against DTs with a quick first-step.
+ Good arm length and boasts a stellar vertical jump for a guard. Arm length allows him to lock on to defenders before defenders are able to put a move on him while the vertical jump shows off his lower body explosion.
+ Finishes blocks very well in the run game. Plays with a mean streak. Isn’t satisfied until his man is on the ground.
+ Very good at holding blocks. Once engaged to a rusher, it’s rare that the rusher will get the better of him.
+ Constantly scanning field for a rusher to pick up or help with. Doesn’t take any plays off.
+ Keeps a wide base and plays with a good center of gravity. Stays low, which helps him keep his balance.
+ Four year starter and two year captain. High character guy who can be trusted on and off the field and will bring a good presence to the locker room.
– Doesn’t possess great quickness or agility, which leads to him occasionally being beaten at the snap. Due to his quickness limitations, it is hard for him to recover which can lead to quick pressures in the pass game. Not as much of a problem in the run game as he’s able to get his hands on the defender quicker.
– When picking up a blitz he can sometimes be a bit out of position leading to him being knocked back a bit and losing his balance.
– Misses blocks in the open field, especially when his assignment is a ways away from him. Doesn’t calculate distance and speed very well at this point in his career. Good coaching could change this.
– Needs to work on his initial punch in the pass game.
– Doesn’t possess adequate speed for an o-lineman. Once again, this can lead to trouble in the open field as he will sometimes get to his assignment late.
Nov 7, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings guard Brandon Fusco (63) blocks against the Washington Redskins in the fourth quarter at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings win 34-27. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
I see a lot of Brandon Fusco in A.J. Cann. Both are maulers in the run game who can struggle at times with the finer technical aspects of the pass game, but for the most part they hold their own. Neither guard has very good speed but they make up for this with exceptional strength.
All in all, A.J. Cann is a pro-ready guard who can come in and contribute immediately. Despite the pass protection concerns described above, Cann is anything but a liability in this department. However, there is certainly room to grow. There is a pretty solid chance that Cann will still be available when the Vikings are on the board with their 45th overall pick (Assuming Rick hasn’t traded 62 times by then) and if he is, there is also a pretty solid chance that Cann becomes the Vikings pick. Cann would likely be an immediate starter at left guard who would help carve out holes in the run game while also doing a better job in pass protection than the former Viking Charlie Johnson was able to provide.
Thank you all for reading. Before the draft starts on April 30, I will be putting out my final big board of the year as well as my final mock draft of the year. I will also be covering the draft on twitter where you can find me @jackmack28 and will post a draft recap article at the end of each draft day. Skol!