Draftnik's Take: LB, RB Visits

Viking Update's Kevin Brown is a passionate draftnik who has created tapes of hundreds of draft prospects for 2006. Now he gives his insight into the questions that VikingUpdate.com users have been asking on the message boards about what he sees on tape and what the workouts say about LB Ernie Sims and other early-, mid- and late-round prospects at the position, as well as the running backs that visited the Vikings.

Q: Everyone says the team's biggest need is at linebacker. Will they come out of the draft with a playmaker at that position?

It's a fairly deep crop for that position and they should be able to. Florida State's Ernie Sims is a terrific fit for the scheme new defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin will run. Sims (5-11 ¼, 234) is an amazing athlete who can make plays all over the field. His workout numbers have been phenomenal – 4.46-4.58 in the forty, a 41-inch vertical-jump, 10-5 broad jump, 4.22 short shuttle, and 25 reps at 225 pounds. But he also shows that athleticism on game tapes, as well. He's not just a workout guy. He's a terrific football player, and the type of player who would really excel in Tomlin's scheme, where he can play off the ball and fly to the action. I have to believe that Sims is going to be very, very high on the Vikings' draft board.

Q: Will Sims be on the board at 17?

It's beginning to look less likely. If he's a guy they truly target, they may have to move into the top 12-14 picks or so.

Q: Beyond Sims, who else could upgrade them at that spot?

Iowa's Chad Greenway, Alabama's DeMeco Ryans, and Miami's Rocky McIntosh would also fit Tomlin's scheme nicely. Greenway and Ryans get really high marks for character, which has become more emphasized under Brad Childress. But they also have the physical tools to shine in the Cover-2 scheme. Greenway is a Midwest guy who grew up on a farm in South Dakota and knows what it means to put in an honest day's work. He's another very good open-field athlete who makes tackles all over the field and has often stepped out to cover the slot receiver in pass coverage. Greenway still needs some strength work (he only did 15 reps at the combine, 19 later in individual workouts), but his other numbers are impressive – 4.58-4.72 forty, 38-inch vertical-jump, 10-0 broad jump, and a 4.22 short shuttle time. Greenway would be a safe, solid choice at the 17th pick overall. Ryans would also be a nice fit in their scheme and would likewise be a safe, solid pick. But some think he'll drop a little further. McIntosh is also an all-over-the-field player who appears virtually interchangeable in Tomlin's scheme.

Q: What about linebacker prospects beyond the first round?

For the Vikings, I like D'Qwell Jackson (Maryland), Abdul Hodge (Iowa), Jon Alston (Stanford), Stephen Tulloch (North Carolina State) and Freddie Keiaho (San Diego State). Jackson is a late-first or early-second pick and could conceivably start right away. Hodge is more a pure ‘Mike' linebacker. Alston makes sense in the second or third round. Tulloch and Keiaho look like middle-round picks. In the later rounds, I like Terna Nande (Miami-Ohio) and Brandon Johnson (Louisville) and more developmental-type prospects.

Q: What's your take on the Vikings bringing in Laurence Maroney?

Maroney is a legitimate value at No. 17 overall and has solidified his standing in Round One with strong workouts. He's gotten a little bigger, at just under 6-foot, 217 pounds and ran 4.47 recently. That, coupled with his productivity and ability to catch the ball, have helped his stock. Still, I think he might be more in the "smokescreen" category for the Vikings with him being a local product. My sense is that the only running back they'd be tempted to take at No. 17 would be DeAngelo Williams, who I believe would be a steal that late. Williams is a dynamite fit in the West Coast Offense. He is very explosive and very multi-dimensional. I think he's in the Top 10 on their draft board, with or without Chester Taylor being signed.

Q: What about the others who were recently in – DeMario Minter, Owen Daniels and Alston?

Childress categorized the visits. "All of (the visitors) fit into different categories," Childress said following a three-day minicamp, "whether it's a medical question, a personality question or a guy that we're legitimately interested in." Minter is a legitimate talent in the early-round talent but has some character concerns – that's likely what they want a read on with him. Daniels shows some upside as a pass-catching tight end in the later rounds. Alston is a viable ‘Will' linebacker candidate and some have even worked him out at safety.

Viking Update Top Stories