Some draft picks are taken as plug-and-play contributors as rookies.
Others, though, are projects that may not see the field right away.
The Minnesota Vikings added six new bodies on Day 3 of the draft. Let’s go pick by pick to see who we are most likely to see on the field this season.
ROUND 4, PICK 102: DL Jalyn Holmes, Ohio State
Quite possibly taken because of his versatility, Jalyn Holmes shapes up as an interchangeable piece on the defensive line that can play on the end or inside. He’s likely Minnesota’s solution at 3-technique after losing Shamar Stephen and Tom Johnson in free agency.
Brian Robison plays a similar role to Holmes — a defensive end who moves inside on third downs — though Robison is entering a contract year and may be a candidate to be a veteran cut. Training camp will be key to determine whether Holmes is ready to replace Robison. If he’s able to accept the torch from the longest-tenured Viking, Holmes could play 20-30 percent of snaps in relief of Sheldon Richardson.
If Robison sticks around another season, Holmes’ role may be reduced in 2018, though his development will still be important with Robison and Richardson hitting free agency in 2019.
Prediction: Holmes will make the team and be a game-day scratch early in the season, but he’ll see more snaps as the year goes on and he begins to grasp the defense.
ROUND 5, PICK 157: TE Tyler Conklin, Central Michigan
As we wrote after the pick, the Vikings love their third-day tight ends, taking one in the fifth or sixth round for the fourth straight year. Last year’s prospect, Bucky Hodges, didn’t last long, but David Morgan II (2016) is still on the team. MyCole Pruitt (2015) lasted a season and a half before getting waived.
Conklin, who scored 11 touchdowns and made 77 receptions over the past two seasons, could be the pass-catching backup tight end the Vikings have been looking for. His basketball background may be a distinguisher that helps Conklin high-point the football and box out defenders, especially in the red zone.
Morgan played 35 percent of snaps last year with the Vikings, while third-string tight end Blake Bell played 13 percent. If Conklin were to replace one of them on the roster — mostly likely Bell — it’s conceivable he could see the field on a semi-regular basis.
Prediction: Conklin makes the club and sees about 20 snaps per game, maybe more if he proves to be a worthy blocker.
ROUND 5, PICK 167: K Daniel Carlson, Auburn
The Vikings likely drafted their kicker of the future in Daniel Carlson.
Considering they spent the franchise’s highest-ever pick on a kicker, Carlson losing a training camp competition to Kai Forbath is unlikely. The team may avoid that competition altogether by releasing Forbath, who missed six field goals and five extra points last season. Forbath signed a one-year, non-guaranteed contract in March.
Prediction: Carlson enters training camp as the Vikings’ only kicker. Minnesota will hope to get a similar rookie season from Carlson that they got from Blair Walsh, who went 10 of 10 from 50-plus yards in his first year.
ROUND 6, PICK 213: G Colby Gossett, Appalachian State
It took awhile, but the Vikings finally drafted a guard. Colby Gossett, who started 46 straight games at Appalachian State, became Minnesota’s second offensive lineman taken in the draft. He spent most of his time at right guard in college but said on a conference call he’s worked out at center and left guard as well.
Gossett will not be a guarantee to make the team, however. The Vikings typically keep nine offensive linemen and, at the moment, have around 11 realistic contenders for jobs, not to mention several practice squad bodies from last season and potential UDFAs. Tom Compton, Danny Isidora and Josh Andrews will all have hopes of making the roster as depth interior linemen.
The sixth-round pick’s future will be determined by his training camp and preseason success.
Prediction: Gossett gets eked out by other challengers and gets waived on cut day, but the Vikings eventually sign him back to the practice squad.
ROUND 6, PICK 218: DE Ade Aruna, Tulane
Perhaps the most fascinating prospect of the incoming class, Ade Aruna moved from Nigeria to play basketball in high school and once shut down Andrew Wiggins in a game. Aruna then transitioned to football, having no idea how to play, and learned his craft well enough to compete at the next level with Tulane.
His physical tools are intriguing, matching the mold Mike Zimmer seems to prefer in his pass rushers. Aruna had a terrific combine that put him on the map as a third-day pick.
The defensive end may have a tough time making the Vikings right away with more refined pieces likely ahead of him on the depth chart such as Tashawn Bower and Stephen Weatherly. Aruna would benefit if the team opted to move on from Robison, in terms of available roster spots.
Prediction: Aruna will be too raw and find himself among those waived on cut day, but the Vikings will re-sign him to the practice squad as a developmental project.
ROUND 7, PICK 225: LB Devante Downs, California
The Vikings love taking athletic, seventh-round linebackers, and they got another one in Devante Downs.
Downs should have a great chance to make the team if he can recover properly from a knee injury that ended his senior season. The California grad wouldn’t reveal the specifics of his injury on a conference call with reporters.
Minnesota has just eight rostered linebackers — two of whom were on the practice squad last year and one of whom is Kentrell Brothers, who is suspended for the first four games of the year for PED use.
Downs will need to prove his worth on special teams to ensure a roster spot. Mike Priefer loves utilizing reserve linebackers on punt and kick coverage. Ben Gedeon, Kentrell Brothers and Eric Wilson were three of the four most active special teamers a season ago.
Prediction: Downs makes the team and rarely plays on defense but becomes a special teams regular.
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