Even Raonall Smith wasn't convinced he would be taken by the Vikings with the sixth pick in the second round. When asked whether he was surprised to be taken by the Vikes, he was candid in his response.
"I was told I would probably go at the end of the second or early in the third round," Smith said. "I'm glad I got taken when I did and get to come to the Vikings."
Defensive Coordinator Willie Shaw said you find the reason for Smith being drafted in one word -- speed. That, combined with a thinning crop of linebackers left the Vikings with two options -- take Smith or likely not find any linebackers they were interested in being impact players.
"This year there weren't a lot of linebackers that can be expected to be taken early and it was something we need," Shaw said. "We see him coming in here and competing because he has great speed and can play in space."
Aside from speed -- he runs a 4.5 40-yard dash -- Smith has been an adept pass coverage linebacker, able to take on both tight ends and running backs in the passing game. However, his selection also pointed out a first chance for Mike Tice to make his presence in the war room felt.
While the Vikings were looking at wide receiver, safety and defensive tackle at possibilities, Tice imposed his will on the decision.
"I pushed for him," said Tice, who owns a house near Smith's home in Gig Harbor, Wash. "I've seen a lot of Washington sports and knew about him. He brings a lot of speed and ability to the table."
Tice said he expects Smith to start at Will Linebacker ahead of incumbents Lemanski Hall and Jim Nelson. With the Vikings moving Patrick Chukwurah to the Sam ‘Backer position, the Vikings now appear to have their linebacker corps set
"We're looking at the draft to fill holes on the team," Tice said. "Linebacker was one of those areas and he was the only player we had graded out as a second-round player. We still have other positions to fill, but this was the best player for that pick."
Smith Surprised By Early Selection
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