Sunday Slant: Senior Bowl values?

The Vikings' scouting and coaching staffs had plenty to discuss following Senior Bowl practices last week in Mobile. The team will need to draft well to keep the talent stocked, and the players at the college all-star game could fit at positions of Vikings need.

The Vikings have will have plenty of options to fill needs throughout the draft. While the first two rounds could have just as many juniors as seniors selected in the draft, here are the seniors at positions of Vikings need that intrigued us in Mobile last week:

QUARTERBACKS
Jake Locker
Locker came into the Senior Bowl week of practices looking to show consistency, the knock against him during his senior season at Washington. He still looked like a quarterback with all the desired qualities – size, arm strength, athleticism outside the pocket. And he still looked inconsistent, leading many to wonder if he is really a mid-first-round value or just a tease with all the tools that won't ever complete the project.

Colin KaepernickThe nearly 6-foot-6 specimen could only muster a scholarship from Nevada coming out of high school in California, but he made a strong showing for himself in Mobile. He proved he has an NFL-ready arm and impressive athleticism to run outside the pocket. The big questions surrounding him is a throwing motion that has him dipping the ball to his waist as he winds his arm to throw and the level of competition that Nevada played.

TIGHT ENDS
Luke Stocker
Eventually the Vikings are going to have to replace Jim Kleinsasser. That's not likely Stocker's forte in the NFL, but he was a pretty impressive receiving option during Senior Bowl week. At 6-foot-6 and 253 pounds, he could have a hard time holding up as a blocker.

Lee SmithIf the Vikings are indeed planning for the eventual end of Kleinsasser's career, Smith could be a good fit. He's likely to be around in the second half of the draft and at 6-6, 267 he has the bulk and blocking skills to work with while being an adequate pass-catcher.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES
Anthony Castonzo
At some in the coming years, the Vikings will have to think about replacing Bryant McKinnie and his big salary. They don't have to do it this year, but Castonzo is a value for them if they trade down in the first round. He looked solid at left tackle. Coaches will often test players at the all-star game, and when they asked him to play right tackle he admittedly struggled. But Castonzo sounds like a prideful player that would work hard to uphold a tradition of solid Boston College offensive linemen.

Derek SherrodThe Ole Miss tackle just appears to be ole reliable. He could likely play right away if needed.

WIDE RECEIVER
Leonard Hankerson
Frankly, the wide receivers at the Senior Bowl weren't all that impressive, but the Vikings may need to replace Sidney Rice if they can't re-sign the scheduled free agent. Hankerson could be had in the middle rounds. He isn't overly fast, but he is a taller receiver and good route runner. He needs to work on his consistency, but he has some tools to develop.

Austin PettisLike Hankerson, Pettis is about 6-foot-3. He appears to have better football speed and is a little more consistent with his hands but not quite the route runner. This could be a case of value in the third day of the draft.

DEFENSIVE LINE
Cameron Jordan
Jordan was pretty much the unstoppable force on the defensive line throughout the week. He showed the best motor and most explosiveness and gave offensive tackles fits all week long. The son of former Vikings tight end Andrew Jordan would be a great second-round value if he's still available, but that seems highly unlikely after an impressive week in front of scouts.

Ian WilliamsThe 6-2, 305-pound defensive tackle from Notre Dame showed very well in the early days of practice but appeared to be easier hold off by the third day.

LINEBACKER
Von Miller
Miller came into the Senior Bowl highly touted, and at times it showed. However, he wasn't quite the wow factor that he was billed. He isn't likely to available deep into the first round and it's unlikely he's strong enough value for the Vikings at No. 12, especially if they feel they'll be able to re-sign Chad Greenway.

Greg JonesThe hardest-hitting linebacker in Mobile was Michigan State's Greg Jones. He could thump with the best of them in the NFL, but it will be interesting to see if he is a liability in coverage. If so, he likely isn't a fit for the Vikings' Tampa-2 defense that asks their linebackers to drop to a spot in a hurry.

Casey MatthewsThe brother of Packers linebacker Clay Matthews has built-in name recognition, but he likely isn't a first-day pick. However, Matthews' speed could be a good fit in the Vikings defense. On a few occasions, the Oregon product came up to support the run on play-action passes and quickly got back to his area to take away a receiving option. Plus, imagine rival brothers adding to the Vikings-Packers border battle.

DEFENSIVE BACKS
Ahmad Black
The Florida safety ran hot and cold. He looks to have plenty of confidence and is quick to cover. The question is whether he is big enough. He's only 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds.

Kendric BurneyAt 5-foot-9, height will be his drawback as well, but he was probably the best of pretty average bunch of cornerbacks in Mobile.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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