After an efficient free agency period, the Minnesota Vikings came into draft weekend with just one glaring need left in the way of a big-bodied wide out. Adding a wide receiver was not only important to improve the passing game but for continuing the development of third-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
The Vikings did exactly that after plucking Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell with the 23rd overall pick. Considered by many the top receiver in the draft, Treadwell saw three other players at his position go off the board before the Vikings snagged him. He watched his stock drop due to a sluggish 40-time at the NFL Combine when he posted a 4.63, raising questions about his playing speed.
The Vikings likely looked at the poor combine as a blessing in disguise, as they were able to come away with someone who can be aggressive and win jump ball situations.
Spielman then stockpiled for the future
On day two, Vikings GM Rick Spielman watched another top player fall into his lap in Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander.
While it’s not known why Alexander slipped, one would assume it was because of his shorter 5’10” stature at a position that coaches have grown to be infatuated with length and size.
However, Alexander has outstanding quickness, technique, and confidence at the position. He allowed zero touchdowns in his last 24 games for the Tigers.
Spielman then stockpiled for the future trading his third rounder to Miami for the Dolphins future third and fourth-round picks in 2017 as well as an extra pick in this year’s sixth round.
Here’s a full breakdown of the entire Vikings’ 2016 draft class.
First Round, 23rd Pick: Laquon Treadwell, Wide Receiver, Ole Miss
Treadwell’s game isn’t speed, it’s strength, grown man strength.
Treadwell was born for the spotlight as he stepped on the national stage in the country’s toughest conference (SEC) and made an impact as a freshman. After just a few seasons, Treadwell was the Rebels’ all-time leading receiver with 202 catches.
Treadwell’s game isn’t speed, it’s strength, grown man strength. He wins with a toughness and physical mentality to rip balls out of the air and use his big body to set a mean natured tone throughout the game.
Treadwell brings a new brand of tenaciousness to the passing game as he tries to help Bridgewater continue to progress and improve deep down the field where the Vikings ranked near last in every category.
Second Round, 54th Pick: Mackensie Alexander, Cornerback, Clemson
“he is a cover corner and you can never have enough of those guys”.
Every year, top-tier talent on the consensus rankings slips and slides its way down draft boards for various reasons.
Case and point with Alexander who was not just one of the best at his position, but was even the highest-ranked cornerback by many national outlets.
It’s impossible to pinpoint why for sure, It’s likely Alexander fell down the draft due to his small stature at just 5’10” and his inability to come down with any interceptions during his college playing career.
While it’s rare for a player of Alexander’s caliber and talents to be unable to pluck one ball from the air, trust me when I say he didn’t have a slew of opportunities as quarterbacks just stopped looking his way as his career progressed.
Given the current talent and depth at the position when I asked Director of Scouting Jamal Stephenson if Alexander’s talents were simply too good to pass up he noted “we had good value for him on our board… he is a cover corner and you can never have enough of those guys”.
Fourth Round, 121st Pick: Willie Beavers, Offensive Line, Western Michigan
Beavers was a mess down at the Senior Bowl.
After trading away their third-round pick, the Vikings then had to watch 67 selections go by until they were then on the clock.
In the fourth round, they selected an offensive lineman to add to a current group that struggled mightily with injuries and an inability to protect the quarterback.
Beavers was a mess down at the Senior Bowl, but also faced some of the best defensive linemen in the nation all week. Beavers was also used inside at guard where the Vikings best see him for a fit in the NFL.
Stephenson noted it wasn’t Beaver’s flaws they were worried about, but more so being able to develop his big size and power something you just can’t teach. “He is big, he is tough, and he is physical. We’re trying to bring that mentality here.”
Beavers will likely compete for the backup position with Mike Harris behind newly acquired Alex Boone and last year’s incumbent starter Brandon Fusco.
Fourth Round, 160th Pick: Kentrell Brothers, Linebacker, Missouri
“It’s hard not to like him, when you turn on the tape, he makes a lot of plays”.
Brothers led the entire SEC last season with 152 tackles and added four interceptions and three blocked kicks throughout his career.
He was never highly regarded by NFL standards due to his inadequate stature at just 6’0” with short arms, which are likely to get him lost in traffic at the next level.
However, from a pure production standpoint, Brothers shows off outstanding instincts and football awareness for the position.
“It’s hard not to like him, when you turn on the tape, he makes a lot of plays.. Good players come in all shapes and sizes,” said Stephenson.
The Vikings were searching for depth at the linebacker position, being thin behind their top two starters Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks as Chad Greenway plays his final season. Expect Brothers to come in and stand out on special teams initially while he looks to eventually win the inside linebacker position in Zimmer’s base 4-3 defense.
If indeed that comes to fruition, the addition would allow Kendricks to slide outside to weak-side linebacker where Zimmer stated last year he was a more natural fit.
Sixth Round, 180 Pick: Moritz Boehringer, Wide Receiver, Germany
Boehringer picked up football after watching a video of Adrian Peterson on YouTube.
Perhaps the most polarizing and entertaining prospect to cover throughout the draft process because of the blend of question marks and raw potential that followed him.
Boehringer picked up football after watching a video of Adrian Peterson on YouTube and being wowed by his talent and the game itself. Boehringer started then playing the game and honing his skills not knowing what would follow.
But that was only the beginning. The real fun started at his pro-day in Germany where he destroyed expectations and put up numbers most (if not all) NFL players only dream of. Boehringer ranked at the top in nearly every relevant category with a blazing 40 time, outstanding cone drill and exceptional vertical jump to add to his 6’4″, 220-pound frame.
Throughout the process, Boehringer was clear he had his sights set on one team and one team had their sights set on him throughout the entire process.
The Minnesota Vikings.
In a cause and effect way, the Adrian Peterson videos grew him accustomed to the team as he grew an eventual favoritism for the purple and gold. In turn, it was Spielman and his staff that had done their due diligence turning over every rock during the process on Boehringer.
Because of his lack of any real competition in Germany, it’s difficult to say just how far along Boehringer is in the process of developing his skills, but it can be said with confidence he has a long journey to making this one time dream become a reality.
I fully expect Boehringer to land on the practice squad for at least one season. Though, two seasons is far more likely as Norv Turner and the staff looks to develop some of the most raw potential the league has ever seen.
Sixth Round, 188th Pick: David Morgan, Tight End, UTSA
On paper Morgan is a Rhett Ellison lite, doing a lot of similar things of the Vikings current tight end.
Morgan was a small-school standout tight end that has an interesting set of skills. Flip on the tape and it’s clear Morgan’s bread and butter is aiding in the run game as one of the most powerful and cleanest blockers in the entire country. Once Morgan gets his hands on you, he has the power and strength to glide his opponent back off the line scrimmage.
Keep watching though and you’ll see the Road Runners lined Morgan up all over the field to take advantage of his better than average hands. While he isn’t the most fluid or athletic route runner out in space, the simple fact Morgan has tons of experience lined up out wide, in the slot, and in-line as a blocker, and gives Turner tremendous value and versatility in different packages.
On paper Morgan is a Rhett Ellison lite, doing a lot of similar things of the Vikings current tight end. However, as Ellison attempts to recover from a patellar tendon injury, Morgan is waiting in the wings to take his reps and grow into his eventual replacement. Don’t be surprised to see Morgan used as fullback in training camp as well as the coaching staff experiments with his natural blocking tools.
Seventh Round, 227th Pick: Stephen Weatherly, Linebacker, Vanderbilt
Spielman said it was entering the last and final round when Zimmer started banging the table for some bigger athletes he could work with. Spielman responded with Weatherly, who brings a whole slew of attributes to the table on-and-off the field.
Outside the hashes, Weatherly is as talented and gifted as they come playing nine different instruments as well as leading his robotics (yeah, that club where you build robots) team to numerous competition victories.
On the field, he is big strong and fast, coming in with an outstanding wingspan and reach for Zimmer to mold and grow into another weapon inside his front seven.
While he played both defensive end and linebacker in college, lining up on both the left and right side, Spielman noted they want to get Weatherley’s hand in the dirt as a traditional end is Zimmer’s base 4-3 defense.
While it’s early, it would appear Scott Crichton or Justin Trattou would find it hard to purge the final 53-man roster when it’s all said and done as the team will likely look at Weatherly’s big upside as the ultimate deciding factor.
Seventh Round, 244th Pick: Jayron Kearse, Safety, Clemson
One thing I learned from draft weekend is that these players in Clemson’s secondary don’t lack any confidence about their skills.
Kearse, who was at one time projected as one of the top safeties in the draft class largely in part of his massive size and length at 6’4”, which even by NFL standards is big, said he felt insulted to see so many teams pass on him time and time again.
“Was a sign of disrespect, people not respecting my game not respecting my ability..a lot of people overlooked me,” he said in a conference call.
Kearse has all the physical tools as well as the NFL bloodlines with his uncle Jevon and cousin Phillip Buchanon having respectable careers of their own in the league not long ago.
Kearse will look to earn a roster spot as he battles with guys like Michael Griffin, Andrew Sendejo, and Anthony Harris, as the team continues to search for a starter opposite Harrison Smith that can help maximize his versatility.
While he may be the Vikings Mr. Irrelevant, under coach Mike Zimmer, Kearse has all the tools to become a starter inside the Vikings secondary someday down the road.