Draft Review: Filling Future Needs?

With Jared Allen on the roster, the Vikings entered the draft feeling confident about their starters at most positions. With only five selections, they filled needs for the future with their targeted selections.

The Jared Allen trade left the Vikings as bystanders for a good portion of the draft's opening day — they weren't complaining — and in the end Minnesota had only five picks. It was an interesting approach for a team that a year ago talked about building through the draft.

It was expected the Vikings would use their top pick on an offensive tackle, especially given the fact that left tackle Bryant McKinnie could face discipline from the NFL after his latest brush with the law this offseason. However, a first-round run on that position resulted in the Vikings taking no tackles.

Instead, the team surprised many by trading up in the second round to grab Arkansas State safety Tyrell Johnson. Johnson, who had not been mentioned in relation to the Vikings leading up to the draft, could be the long-term replacement for veteran Darren Sharper.

Minnesota then used three of its final four picks on the second day to take players on the offensive side of the ball.

Two of those were no surprise and probably solid choices. Southern Cal quarterback John David Booty, acquired when the Vikings traded with Green Bay (surprise, surprise) to move up in the fifth round, likely will beat out veteran Brooks Bollinger for the No. 3 job.

Notre Dame center John Sullivan was taken in the sixth round and could eventually replace veteran Matt Birk. Sullivan, like Birk, is considered a very smart player and his transition to the NFL should be a smooth one.

The biggest surprise pick by the Vikings, or at least the one that could be called a reach, was taking Florida State defensive tackle Letroy Guion in the fifth round. Guion only started 14 games in three seasons at Florida State and came out a year early to try to help his family. At best he's going to be a project.

Jackson State receiver Jaymar Jackson, another sixth-rounder, was the Vikings' final pick of the draft and also will have plenty of learning to do.

BEST PICK: The Vikings appear set at safety this season with veterans Darren Sharper and Madieu Williams. Nonetheless, Minnesota didn't have much depth at this spot and Sharper isn't getting any younger. He will turn 33 in November and is entering the final season of his contract. That means second-rounder Tyrell Johnson could spend one season learning on the job before stepping into a starting role in 2009.

COULD SURPRISE: The Vikings are committed to a second season with Tarvaris Jackson as their starting quarterback. But if Jackson fails to live up to expectations in 2008 — and there will be high expectations for the Vikings this time around — John David Booty could get an opportunity sooner rather than later. It's unlikely Booty would get any snaps this coming season but the kid has dealt with the pressure of USC before and a year of seasoning at the NFL level could make this fifth-round pick look pretty good down the road.

A closer look at the Vikings' picks:

Round 2/43 — Tyrell Johnson, S, 6-0, 207, Arkansas State

The Vikings, who had Johnson as the top-rated safety on their draft board and No. 17 overall, worked a trade with the Eagles to move up in the second round to grab him. Minnesota also sent its fourth-round pick to Philadelphia in the trade and got the Eagles' fifth-rounder. Johnson might not have played at a big school but impressive performances against Texas and Tennessee helped increase his stock. The son of former NBA player Alvin Robertson, Johnson did finish his career as the Sun Belt Conference's leading tackler.

Round 5/137 — John David Booty, QB, 6-3, 213, USC

Booty was the developmental-type quarterback that Vikings coach Brad Childress wanted on his roster. In fact, the Vikings traded up to the second pick of the fifth round in order to take Booty. Childress likes the fact that Booty's father was a football coach. It also helps that Booty is familiar with the West Coast offense, likes playing in it and said before the draft he would welcome an opportunity to go to Minnesota. Booty will compete with Brooks Bollinger for the No. 3 job in training camp behind starter Tarvaris Jackson and veteran backup Gus Frerotte.

Round 5/152 — Letroy Guion, DT, 6-4, 303, Florida State

It's not certain if Guion will end up playing behind 3-technique tackle Kevin Williams or nose tackle Pat Williams. Guion surprised many by leaving college early, had started only 14 games in three seasons and at best is considered to be a raw prospect with plenty to learn. The Vikings, though, wanted to add depth on the defensive line and will do so by drafting the inexperienced Guion.

Round 6/187 — John Sullivan, C, 6-4, 301, Notre Dame

Sullivan could be groomed as the replacement for veteran Matt Birk, who is entering the final season of his contract. So far, the Vikings have not initiated any conversations with Birk about a contract extension and the decision to draft Sullivan could mean Birk's tenure with the Vikings is nearing an end. Sullivan didn't have a great 2007 season for an Irish team that went 3-9 but he was solid throughout his collegiate career and is considered a very smart player. He also has the ability to play guard.

Round 6/193 — Jaymar Johnson, WR, 6-0, 176, Jackson State

Could be a long shot to make the roster but might have a chance at the practice squad. Johnson is a speedy player who could provide big-play capabilities down the line but he will have plenty to learn coming from the SWAC. One thing the Vikings like about Johnson is he can return both punts and kicks. Right now those areas aren't completely settled. Johnson's 66 receptions for 1,140 yards and nine touchdowns in the last two seasons are certainly something to build on.

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