Sunday slant: Senior Bowlers to consider

The week of Senior Bowl practices provided a strong glimpse into the NFL's future talent. We pick 11 candidates that could fill positions of need for the Vikings in the first few rounds of the draft.

The Minnesota Vikings were in full force last week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

Their general manager, Rick Spielman, was scouting players and making sure the team got as many interviews with them as possible. Their director of college scouting, Scott Studwell, was on the field for an up-close look at the players. Their coordinators, Bill Musgrave on offense, Alan Williams on defense and Mike Priefer on special teams, were in the stands keeping watch for playmakers that could help them. And the position coaches were dutifully analyzing the group of players from which they might inherit a player or two.

The offseason for those folks would have to wait a week. There were players to scout in hopes of continuing the ascent the Vikings roster has felt over the last year. At this point, the Vikings have eight picks in April's draft and every one of them could be important, as witnessed by Blair Walsh becoming a Pro Bowl rookie as a sixth-round pick last year.

So what will the Vikings do with their picks in less than three months? Truth be told, even they don't know at this early stage. Their rankings are only preliminary and subject to change often over the next three months as more analysis and background checks fly in. That said, there were some intriguing possibilities at the Senior Bowl.

Here is our take on potential picks in the first few rounds at areas of need:

WIDE RECEIVER

Quinton Patton – Perhaps no other receiver helped his stock during the week as much as Patton. He entered the week as a potential second-round pick and might have moved into first-round consideration with the awareness and consistency he showed, along with athleticism and strength going after the ball – all in a 6-foot-2 package.

Aaron Dobson – The Marshall receiver wasn't thrown to a great deal during full-team work, but he did get open fairly often. He has the speed to get deep, but he showed a knack for running the out routes and using his big body. Like Patton, he likely won't be around in the second round.

Aaron Mellette – There wasn't much known about the Elon (North Carolina) receiver entering the week, but he showed enough that he should rise up into the middle rounds, maybe even as high as the third round for the 6-foot-3 receiver with sure hands. He'd be a nice fallback option if the Vikings don't find something in the earlier rounds.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

John Jenkins – The behemoth was a terror most of the week. He has great size (350-plus) and surprising quickness. When he wants to be, he looks to be handful that needs to be double-teamed nearly every down. He showed great effort during the week of practice, but there are questions about whether that same type of effort translates consistently enough over the course of a season.

Sylvester Williams – While Jenkins is a nose tackle, Williams is more of a three-technique lineman that did a lot to help his draft stock. He is a high-motor guy all the way looking to prove himself after playing only one year of high school football and then working in a factory manufacturing radiators for big trucks. He could still be around when the Vikings pick in the second round.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER

Sean Porter – Other linebackers at the Senior Bowl were more highly touted, but no one in that group outperformed Porter during the week, especially when it came to versatility. He should he could be a hard-hitting run stuffer, an edge rusher or drop into coverage. If the Vikings take him in the second round, he could be a opening-day starter.

Khaseem Greene – Greene showed flashes, especially in stuffing the run and using his range to get to the sideline. He might not be the best pass rusher, but the Vikings rely on their linebackers for run-stuffing and coverage more than the blitzing ways of linebackers in a 3-4 defense. Greene is best suited for a 4-3 on the outside and could be a Day 2 selection.

INSIDE LINEBACKER

Nico Johnson – If the Vikings would happen to be looking for a two-down linebacker (much like Jasper Brinkley), they could do worse than Nico Johnson. The problem would be if they ask Johnson to cover or drop into deep zones too often. He's probably a Day 3 pick, but if the Vikings haven't filled a middle linebacker need by the fourth round, Johnson would be a solid selection.

Vince Williams – Prior to the Senior Bowl, he was considered a late-round round pick, but he did himself good with his week of practice. The question is whether he will play inside or outside, but either way he and the attitude he brings would be a solid value pick late in the fourth or fifth round.

CORNERBACK

Desmond Trufant – When it came to cornerbacks during practices last week, there was Desmond Trufant and everybody else. Trufant was confident, aggressive and sure of himself. He reacted quickly to the action in front of him and used good leverage with receivers. If the Vikings want him, it will have to be with their first-round pick because he appears to be going somewhere in that area.

Jordan Poyer – Poyer showed excellent reaction with the man in front of him and showed he can keep up with receivers, but his downfall was turning to locate the ball. He missed on a few opportunities because he didn't turn his head to locate the ball. He might not be worth the Vikings' first-round pick and might not be available anymore when they pick in the second round.

Lining up the players for rankings will be an evolving process over the next two months with the Combine and then pro days. While there wasn't much elite or blue-chip talent attending the Senior Bowl, there were plenty of options at positions of Purple need.


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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So what will the Vikings do with their picks in less than three months? Truth be told, even they don't know at this early stage. Their rankings are only preliminary and subject to change often over the next three months as more analysis and background checks fly in. That said, there were some intriguing possibilities at the Senior Bowl. Here is our take on potential picks in the first few rounds at areas of need: Quinton Patton – Perhaps no other receiver helped his stock during the week as much as Patton. He entered the week as a potential second-round pick and might have moved into first-round consideration with the awareness and consistency he showed, along with athleticism and strength going after the ball – all in a 6-foot-2 package. Aaron Dobson – The Marshall receiver wasn't thrown to a great deal during full-team work, but he did get open fairly often. He has the speed to get deep, but he showed a knack for running the out routes and using his big body. Like Patton, he likely won't be around in the second round. Aaron Mellette – There wasn't much known about the Elon (North Carolina) receiver entering the week, but he showed enough that he should rise up into the middle rounds, maybe even as high as the third round for the 6-foot-3 receiver with sure hands. He'd be a nice fallback option if the Vikings don't find something in the earlier rounds. John Jenkins – The behemoth was a terror most of the week. He has great size (350-plus) and surprising quickness. When he wants to be, he looks to be handful that needs to be double-teamed nearly every down. He showed great effort during the week of practice, but there are questions about whether that same type of effort translates consistently enough over the course of a season. Sylvester Williams – While Jenkins is a nose tackle, Williams is more of a three-technique lineman that did a lot to help his draft stock. He is a high-motor guy all the way looking to prove himself after playing only one year of high school football and then working in a factory manufacturing radiators for big trucks. He could still be around when the Vikings pick in the second round. Sean Porter – Other linebackers at the Senior Bowl were more highly touted, but no one in that group outperformed Porter during the week, especially when it came to versatility. He should he could be a hard-hitting run stuffer, an edge rusher or drop into coverage. If the Vikings take him in the second round, he could be a opening-day starter. Khaseem Greene – Greene showed flashes, especially in stuffing the run and using his range to get to the sideline. He might not be the best pass rusher, but the Vikings rely on their linebackers for run-stuffing and coverage more than the blitzing ways of linebackers in a 3-4 defense. Greene is best suited for a 4-3 on the outside and could be a Day 2 selection. Nico Johnson – If the Vikings would happen to be looking for a two-down linebacker (much like Jasper Brinkley), they could do worse than Nico Johnson. The problem would be if they ask Johnson to cover or drop into deep zones too often. He's probably a Day 3 pick, but if the Vikings haven't filled a middle linebacker need by the fourth round, Johnson would be a solid selection. Vince Williams – Prior to the Senior Bowl, he was considered a late-round round pick, but he did himself good with his week of practice. The question is whether he will play inside or outside, but either way he and the attitude he brings would be a solid value pick late in the fourth or fifth round. Desmond Trufant – When it came to cornerbacks during practices last week, there was Desmond Trufant and everybody else. Trufant was confident, aggressive and sure of himself. He reacted quickly to the action in front of him and used good leverage with receivers. If the Vikings want him, it will have to be with their first-round pick because he appears to be going somewhere in that area. Jordan Poyer – Poyer showed excellent reaction with the man in front of him and showed he can keep up with receivers, but his downfall was turning to locate the ball. He missed on a few opportunities because he didn't turn his head to locate the ball. He might not be worth the Vikings' first-round pick and might not be available anymore when they pick in the second round. Lining up the players for rankings will be an evolving process over the next two months with the Combine and then pro days. While there wasn't much elite or blue-chip talent attending the Senior Bowl, there were plenty of options at positions of Purple need. 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