Sunday slant: Senior Bowl's purple prospects

The Senior Bowl lacked a lot of first-round talent, but the Vikings could consider several second- and third-day prospects from those in Mobile, Ala. for the college all-star game last week. Here are some of our favorites for the Vikings to consider.

The Senior Bowl can be a difficult beast to judge. No one could have predicted Russell Wilson’s success in the NFL after his Senior Bowl week.

It’s a bit of a crapshoot with players forced to quickly learn a new system (although they are intentionally dumbed down to make it easier), and it’s hard to know what will become of certain players in certain systems. But what we learned about the players when it comes to their possibilities for the Minnesota Vikings is that their first-round pick was likely not in attendance. The best talent iin Mobile, Ala. last week was on defense and along the lines, but Danny Shelton, who is likely the top pick to attend the Senior Bowl, admits he’s more likely a fit at nose guard for a 3-4 defensive scheme.

The linebackers, one of the positions of need for the Vikings, were generally unimpressive, but even there it was difficult to judge with limited full-contact sessions. Norfolk State’s Lynden Trail is an intriguing prospect as a 6-foot-6 outside linebacker, but even he seems more likely a fit in a 3-4 defense.

None of the safeties or cornerbacks looked like sure-fire first-round picks, especially as high as the Vikings are picking at No. 11.

Offensively, there could be a few options for first-round consideration, but the best offensive skill-position player was tight end Clive Walford and it’s unlikely the Vikings spend their first-rounder there. Perhaps Duke guard Laken Tomlinson would be a consideration in the first the round, if the Vikings would consider a guard that early.

Most of the positions of the need for Minnesota that fit with Senior Bowl prospects are more likely second-round picks on down. Here are a few that intrigued us:

  • CB Quinten Rollins: His is an interesting story. He played point guard for Miami-Ohio before a scout from the Baltimore Ravens approached Miami’s coaching staff and suggested he give cornerback a try. He did. He quit basketball is firmly committed to improving his craft at cornerback. His quickness and ability to read and run are impressive already. He said contact won’t be a problem for him, but clearly he is first and foremost a cover cornerback with impressive potential and, after talking with him, he sure sounds like the type that is eager to learn and correct his weaknesses. But if the Vikings are looking to make cornerback their first-round pick, Michigan State’s Trae Waynes is likely the option, not Rollins.

  • WRs Sammie Coates or Tony Lippett: If the Vikings are looking to upgrade their receiver corps in the middle rounds, the 6-foot-2½ Lippett or 6-foot-1½ Coates are solid options. Coates is the more athletic of the two, but was too inconsistent catching the ball to be considered a first-day option. Lippett has a bigger frame and not quite the speed. While he doesn’t have the jumping ability or overall athleticism of Coates, he knows how to use his size when battling for a pass in the air.

  • WRs Devin Smith or Phillip Dorsett: While Coates and Lippett are the big-bodied options, Smith and Dorsett are the quick receivers that excel on the underneath routes. Smith is a more precise route-runner who has the potential to stretch it deep. Dorsett is the lightning-quick jitterbug that can get a cornerback turned around in a hurry on crossing routes, but according to one scout, he’s a big sloppy or raw in his route-running.

  • G Laken Tomlinson: At 6-foot-3 and 323 pounds, he has power to handle the big boys on the defensive line. He was the only offensive lineman to consistently give Shelton trouble in both one-on-one and team drills. The only issue: He might not be around in the second round and investing the No. 11 pick in a guard might be a stretch.

  • If the Vikings are looking for a running back in the first round, it won’t be any that were at the Senior Bowl. The only value there is Tori Gurley or Melvin Gordon. But in the second or third day of the draft, the Senior Bowl provided some possibilities, the best of them local-area guys, the University of Minnesota’s David Cobb or Northern Iowa’s David Johnson. Cobb is a hard-charging, between-the-tackles runner looking for his opportunity. Nelson is a fast back that showed great elusiveness in the open field.

  • With quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater and Matt Cassel on the roster, that position isn’t a pressing need, but the Vikings could look for a developmental option in the middle or late rounds. Garrett Grayson (Colorado State) and Sean Mannion (Oregon State) both show potential at times, although neither of them being worth a first- or second-day pick.

    Other Senior Bowl observations/notes:

  • Current Vikings coaches are torn about who to cheer for in the Super Bowl. The Seahawks feature plenty of former Vikings – Kevin Williams, Heath Farwell, Tarvaris Jackson, Steven Hauschka and Derrick Coleman – and former offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. The Patriots, meanwhile, have former Vikings coaches Chad O’Shea (receivers) and Brendan Daly (defensive assistant) on their staff.

  • Apparently the Vikings have a done a good job in drafting their recent linebackers. When we asked Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah who were some of the toughest linebackers he faced, without knowing the Vikings connection asking him the question, he named Anthony Barr among them and spoke glowingly of Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges. Abdullah was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Senior Bowl game on Saturday, but while he is a quick back that can make things happen with the ball, his sized proved to be a liability in pass protection during the week of practice, which will hurt his draft stock.

  • Deflategate was all the talk during Senior Bowl week when it came to the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl. But most of the Vikings coaches we talked with downplayed the topic, including head coach Mike Zimmer, who referenced the Patriots’ 45-7 blowout in the AFC Championship. “I don’t think the balls had much to do with it,” he said.

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