Defensive tackle ‘flat-out loaded' in draft

The Vikings may have other positions of more immediate need, but they likely will look to bolster their depth at defensive tackle, if not find an immediate starter. Fortunately for them, there are is a lot of quality variety early in the draft, says Mel Kiper.

Wide receiver and linebacker may be the positions of most immediate need, but there is little doubt the Minnesota Vikings will try to find a defensive tackle in this year's draft.

Their situation there isn't desperate – they could go into the season with Kevin Williams and Letroy Guion as the starters and Fred Evans offering quality depth – but general manager Rick Spielman is always looking to the future. The immediate future shows an aging Kevin Williams scheduled to make $7.5 million in 2013, and the Vikings could approach him about reducing that number.

But no matter what they decide to do with the defensive tackles already on their roster, a replenishment plan is likely in place. Fortunately for them, the draft offers plenty of quality depth at defensive tackle.

"As far as defensive tackle, it is flat-out loaded. I know we're going to get that question, the deepest position, and this is certainly one of the deepest by far," ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said Wednesday. "You could find defensive tackles well into the draft process. You're talking about 16 defensive front-seven players in the first round and a lot of those guys are your defensive tackles.

"It's a loaded group, and certainly in round one and you go into rounds two, three, four, you're going to find guys."

The Senior Bowl produced a few looks at some of the solid depth, even if three of the top five defensive tackles in this draft are juniors – Sheldon Richardson of Missouri, Sharrif Floyd of Florida and Johnathan Hankins of Georgia. It's expected that in addition to those three juniors, seniors Star Lotulelei of Utah and Jesse Williams of Alabama could already be selected before the Vikings pick at No. 23.

But at the Senior Bowl, Georgia's John Jenkins proved to be a massive nose tackle approaching 360 pounds that has impressive quickness off the ball. He may be worth spending a late first-round pick on if the Vikings are looking for a Pat Williams type of nose tackle.

"Jenkins (is) the nose tackle, the clogger, the space eater, a 350-pounder along the interior," Kiper said. "Jenkins is in that late first-round mix."

Kiper loves to wax analytic on the possibilities and went into that mode during a Wednesday conference call on many of the top possibilities at the position.

"Brandon Williams is a kid out of Missouri Southern, he had a good Senior Bowl week. He could be in the second- or third-round mix, in that next grouping that's going to have a nice career in the NFL," Kiper said. "The junior influence certainly helped this position. You didn't even need it. But with Sharrif Floyd skyrocketing up the draft board, the kid out of Florida, Sheldon Richardson out of Missouri, those two kids could be early first-round picks. Johnathan Hankins didn't play this year like he did as a sophomore, but he's still in that late first-round discussion. Sylvester Williams from North Carolina had a dominant Senior Bowl week. He's solidly in the first round right now.

Lotulelei, Richardson, Floyd, Jesse Williams and Hankins are all expected to be gone by the time the Vikings pick, but if they are interested in spending a first-round pick on defensive tackle, they have plenty of other options.

In addition to Jenkins, Brandon Williams became the all-time sacks leader at Missiouri Sourthern and finished his senior season second on the team with 68 tackles, including 16.5 for loss, and 8.5 sacks.

Purdue's Kawann Short was an Associated Press All-American Second-Team player that had 42 tackles, including 14.5 for loss, and six sacks, despite missing time with an ankle injury.

Sylvester Williams, who had an excellent week at the Senior Bowl, finished his senior year at North Carolina with 42 tackles, 13.5 for loss, and six sacks.

The Vikings haven't drafted a defensive tackle in the first two rounds of the draft since taking Kevin Williams 10 years ago. It could be time to take that plunge again, and if they do, there are plenty of viable options.

"If you need nose tackles, if you need three-techniques, if you need five-techniques, you've got it all covered as far as the defensive tackle spot in this particular draft," Kiper said.


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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\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":"Wide receiver and linebacker may be the positions of most immediate need, but there is little doubt the Minnesota Vikings will try to find a defensive tackle in this year's draft. Their situation there isn't desperate – they could go into the season with Kevin Williams and Letroy Guion as the starters and Fred Evans offering quality depth – but general manager Rick Spielman is always looking to the future. The immediate future shows an aging Kevin Williams scheduled to make $7.5 million in 2013, and the Vikings could approach him about reducing that number. But no matter what they decide to do with the defensive tackles already on their roster, a replenishment plan is likely in place. Fortunately for them, the draft offers plenty of quality depth at defensive tackle. \"As far as defensive tackle, it is flat-out loaded. I know we're going to get that question, the deepest position, and this is certainly one of the deepest by far,\" ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said Wednesday. \"You could find defensive tackles well into the draft process. You're talking about 16 defensive front-seven players in the first round and a lot of those guys are your defensive tackles. \"It's a loaded group, and certainly in round one and you go into rounds two, three, four, you're going to find guys.\" The Senior Bowl produced a few looks at some of the solid depth, even if three of the top five defensive tackles in this draft are juniors – Sheldon Richardson of Missouri, Sharrif Floyd of Florida and Johnathan Hankins of Georgia. It's expected that in addition to those three juniors, seniors Star Lotulelei of Utah and Jesse Williams of Alabama could already be selected before the Vikings pick at No. 23. But at the Senior Bowl, Georgia's John Jenkins proved to be a massive nose tackle approaching 360 pounds that has impressive quickness off the ball. He may be worth spending a late first-round pick on if the Vikings are looking for a Pat Williams type of nose tackle. \"Jenkins (is) the nose tackle, the clogger, the space eater, a 350-pounder along the interior,\" Kiper said. \"Jenkins is in that late first-round mix.\" Kiper loves to wax analytic on the possibilities and went into that mode during a Wednesday conference call on many of the top possibilities at the position. \"Brandon Williams is a kid out of Missouri Southern, he had a good Senior Bowl week. He could be in the second- or third-round mix, in that next grouping that's going to have a nice career in the NFL,\" Kiper said. \"The junior influence certainly helped this position. You didn't even need it. 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