2009 Vikings draft: Loadholt the standout

Phil Loadholt is the last 2009 draft pick remaining with the Vikings throughout his career, as the second-round selection outlasted Percy Harvin and several defensive players.

Percy Harvin: First round, No. 22 overall
Since Harvin first entered the NFL he has been one of the most dynamic playmakers in the league. In college, he was a key part of the Florida Gators National Championship run, but he slipped into the second half of the first round after he reportedly tested positive for marijuana.

He was able to keep his success going through his rookie season when he recorded 60 receptions for 790 yards and six touchdowns, 15 rushes for 135 yards, and also scored two touchdowns returning kickoffs. For his efforts he was given the Rookie of the Year award at the end of the season.

Harvin played for the Vikings for four years before he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks in 2013, and then again to the New York Jets in 2014. During the course of his career, Harvin has struggled staying healthy, whether it was suffering from migraines or some other injury, and that has stopped him from becoming a truly elite player in the NFL.

Phil Loadholt: Second round, No. 54 overall
Coming out of college Loadholt was originally committed to Colorado but didn’t qualify academically, so instead he played in junior college for two years. After junior college, he originally committed to LSU but decommitted and then chose to attend Oklahoma. Coming out of college, he had ideal size to play the tackle position in the NFL, but he got beat too often around the edge in college and it was speculated he might have to be moved inside, but if that were the case his size would have become a liability.

When the Vikings drafted Loadholt – who played left tackle in college – they already had the left tackle position filled, so they moved him over to the right side. He has been their primary starter on that side as has been able to stay healthy for a majority of his career. Through his sixth season Loadholt has had a successful career, and the Vikings rewarded him during the 2013 offseason when they re-signed him through 2016 for $25 million.

Asher Allen: Third round, No. 86 overall
Before being drafted by the Vikings, Allen spent his college days playing at the University of Georgia. Coming out of college he was considered to have good straight line speed, good hips, which allowed him to turn and run with receivers, and was a good overall tackler. He was shorter than the prototypical outside corner and lacked elite recovery speed if he was initially beaten. He was also overly aggressive at times, and would often be caught biting on a double move.

The Vikings still took a chance on him, and he played well with the team. He recorded 134 total tackles, one forced fumble and four interceptions in three years with the team. He was placed on injured reserve at the end of the 2011 season after suffering a concussion, and he announced his retirement from the NFL on May 30, 2012.

Jasper Brinkley: Fifth round, No. 150 overall
After high school Brinkley originally played junior college football at Georgia Military College and from there moved on to start at South Carolina. Coming out of college, Brinkley had the prototypical size and strength to play inside linebacker in the NFL. He was a reliable open-field tackler and showed a quick burst while rushing the passer from time to time. However, he was still developing his instincts and would get fooled by misdirection plays on occasion. He also seemed to lose some of his athleticism after an ACL surgery in 2007.

He started out as the backup to then-starter E.J. Henderson, and when Henderson went down with an injury Brinkley stepped up into the starting role. In 2013, Brinkley signed with the Arizona Cardinals but was released by them a year later. He re-signed with the Vikings for a one-year contract and enters the 2015 offseason as a free agent. During the course of his career, Brinkley has recorded 249 tackles, one sack and five forced fumbles.

Jamarca Sanford: Seventh round, No. 231 overall
Sanford attended the University of Mississippi, where he primarily played strong safety but also played in a couple games as a linebacker. Coming out of college, Sanford was thought of as a tough player who is a reliable tackler in the open field. He was also believed to be a high-energy player who did not give up on plays and was good at shedding blocks and making tackles close to the line of scrimmage. The downside for him, however, was that he lacked the ideal size for an NFL strong safety, and lacked the speed necessary to keep up with receivers in pass coverage.

To this point in his career, Sanford has recorded 283 tackles, eight forced fumbles and two interceptions. He played on the Vikings during the first five years of his career but was released by them in 2014 before the season began when he was placed on injured reserve and agreed on an injury settlement. In September, he was picked up by the Washington Redskins, but was released after being with the team for a month, and then picked up by the New Orleans Saints, with whom he finished his season. He is a free agent once again.

Overall Analysis
The Vikings 2009 draft class was a good one, as every player they drafted became a starter at one point or another, but the team chose to part ways with a majority of the players. Harvin is one of the league’s most dangerous players when he is healthy. Allen seemed to be on his way to a good career before having it cut short. Brinkley has been a solid player in the middle when healthy. And Sanford has been able to make an impact on defense and special teams. Loadholt, however, is the standout when looking at players the Vikings stuck with, as he has been able to hold down the right side of the line for the majority of the last six years.

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