Willie Beavers may have been a huge reach in the fourth
By Dan Zinski
Willie Beavers looked good to the Vikings in the fourth round, but not everyone agrees that it was a smart pick.
Was Western Michigan offensive lineman Willie Beavers a huge reach as a fourth round pick? Some observers think so.
Take for instance this assessment from Pro Football Focus. They ranked the Beavers pick as the fourth-worst of the entire draft:
"It’s difficult to imagine a tackle who played as poorly as Beavers did in college ever becoming a viable player in the NFL. He was the second-lowest-graded tackle in all of college football last year, and the lowest-graded tackle at the Senior Bowl practices. Beavers has an insanely long way to go to ever be a viable contributor in the league."
The Vikings say Beavers will start out at guard. Minnesota has plenty of depth at the guard position and figures to bring Beavers along slowly at first.
If Pro Football Focus is correct in their breakdown of Beavers, the Vikings will have to bring him along very slowly, even as a guard.
Not that PFF is necessarily right in all their assessments, but at least with them you get some breakdown of the player instead of the generic “looks like a solid pick” stuff that passes for draft analysis in so many places.
And PFF isn’t the only online entity that’s down on the Beavers pick. Dan Kadar of SB Nation called Beavers the most “questionable” pick of the draft, calling his play in college “up-and-down.” Even most positive reviews of Beavers emphasize that he is not very polished technically, and probably not even strong enough yet to play in the NFL, and will need a long time to develop.
Clearly, the Vikings made this pick based on raw athletic talent and perceived upside more than immediate need. It’s fine to take those shots on project players occasionally, but you do have to wonder if it was altogether wise to take this particular shot with this particular player in the fourth round after trading out of the third.
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Bottom line is, Willie Beavers isn’t being expected to come in right away and compete even for a backup spot, so we won’t have to think about him again for awhile. But in a couple years, don’t be shocked if people are grading the Vikings’ 2016 draft and labeling Willie Beavers a wasted pick.