A Look At Rounds 2 Through 7 Under Spielman And Co.

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 2, 2011 – 5:18 pm

In the previous blog entry about G Chris DeGeare, we made the point that: “There’s no doubt that hitting home runs with 1st-round picks is key to success in the NFL. But if you do some research, you’ll see that selections in rounds 2-7 and also the signing of undrafted rookie free agents are just as important.”

In the previous blog entry, we also said we’d take a closer look at some of those 2nd- through 7th-round picks in the next posting. While the group isn’t full of Pro Bowlers or future Hall of Famers (yet), it is a group of players that represent at least a part of the core of the current roster. There are 10 players who’ve started games for the Vikings on the list and obviously there will be many, many more starts from this list in the years to come.

Here we go…

CB Asher Allen - A 3rd-round pick in 2009, Allen struggled at times as a starter in 2010. But over his 2 Vikings seasons, Allen has flashed some potential. With the return of Cedric Griffin in 2011, Allen will be in a position to contribute in the nickel and dime packages where he’ll be more successful.

LB Jasper Brinkley - A 5th-round pick in 2009, Brinkley stepped in as the starter when E.J. Henderson went down to injury at the end of the 2009 season. It’s easy to take this for granted, but keep in mind the Vikings had the NFL’s top-ranked defense and Brinkley was a rookie starting in the middle of the defense. The Vikings defense missed Henderson, but Brinkley was solid in his place and the Vikings advanced to the NFC Championship Game. On top of that, Brinkley has been a solid special teams contributor during his career in Minnesota.

CB Chris Cook - A 2nd-round pick in 2010, Cook had a tremendous offseason and training camp heading into his rookie season. But then a pair of knee injuries that both required surgery slowed and eventually halted his rookie season. Cook is a big, physical CB who fits what head coach Leslie Frazier wants his defense to do. The upside on Cook is big and the Vikings defense will benefit from his return.

FB Ryan D’Imperio - A lot of factors were working against D’Imperio during his rookie season in 2010. He was a 7th-round pick (#237 overall), he switched positions from college LB to NFL FB and he had an established starter in front of him on the depth chart. But D’Imperio impressed enough to stick around and was a member of the practice squad in 2010. During the offseason and training camp this year he’ll have a chance to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.

G Chris DeGeare - The blog entry below this one tells DeGeare’s story.

RB Toby Gerhart - At first I think Vikings fans are quick to point out disappointment in Gerhart’s rookie season, but I don’t see it that way. He had a tough go during training camp and the early part of the season, but he continued to improve as the season went along and he had an impressive showing in a start against the Bears in Week 15 when he rushed for 77 yards on 16 carries. For the season, Gerhart average 4.0 yards per carry. Given how productive he was in college and how aggressive the Vikings were in trading up to select him in the 2nd round last year, I’m willing to give Gerhart more time to develop into a productive NFL RB.

DE Everson Griffen - A prospect with 1st-round talent who dropped to the 4th round because of off-field concerns, Griffen flashed potential on defense and productivity on special teams as a rookie. He’s in line to get more playing time on defense in 2011, especially if the Vikings are unable to reach contract agreements with either Ray Edwards or Brian Robison.

DT Letroy Guion - When the Vikings used a 5th-round pick on Letroy Guion in 2008, he was only 20 years old. He came in and didn’t produce right away, but now he’s progressed into a member of the defensive line rotation. As is the case with Griffen, Guion may be in line for even more playing time depending on what happens with potential free agents ahead of him on the depth chart.

WR Jaymar Johnson - Another 7th-round pick (2008) who remains on the roster, Johnson was in the midst of another solid offseason and training camp when he injured his wrist and was put on Injured Reserve before the 2010 season got going. Johnson will be in another battle to make the roster this offseason, but his return capabilities will help him.

S Tyrell Johnson - A 2nd-round pick in 2008, Johnson has moved in and out of the starting lineup during his 3 seasons in Minnesota. With the safety position still a bit in flux, Johnson has a chance to reclaim a starting spot if he can perform well in the offseason and in training camp. He’s a tremendous athlete who needs to polish his skills in coverage.

RT Phil Loadholt - Another 2nd-round pick, Loadholt stepped into the starting lineup as a rookie in 2009 and was one of the team’s best offensive linemen. The Vikings offense averaged 29.4 points per game during Loadholt’s rookie seasan and the 6-8, 343-pound mauler showed that he could be a talented player in this league for a long time.

WR Sidney Rice - The 2nd-round picks keep rolling in. Rice was a 2nd-rounder in 2007 and exploded for a career season in 2009 with Brett Favre under center. A hip injury slowed his 2010 season and now Rice will look to bounce back in 2011 with another strong showing. His leaping ability and sure hands are his best qualities, and they’re qualities a rookie QB would love to have in a starting WR.

DE Brian Robison – An All-Rookie honoree who was 3rd among all NFL rookies with 4.5 sacks in 2007, Robison has been a productive player for the Vikings and figures to be an important member of the defensive line rotation in 2011. He was a 4th-round pick in 2007 out of the University of Texas and one of the great aspects of his game is that he can slide inside to play DT in certain situations.

S Jamarca Sanford – With Heath Farwell, Sanford is one of the most valuable special teams contributors for the Vikings, specifically in the kick and punt coverage units. He has also logged playing time on defense and has also been a starter at safety. Considering Sanford was the SEC’s leading tackler during his 4 years at Ole Miss, it’s hard to believe Rick Spielman and Co. found him in the 7th round. But that’s what they did, and that makes Sanford one of the more under-rated Vikings draft picks in recent years.

C John Sullivan – Sullivan’s 2nd year was better than his 3rd, but I’m guessing his 4th year will be the best yet. He sat behind Matt Birk as a rookie in 2008, then stepped into the starting lineup at center for the 2009 season and helped the Vikings offense to a 29.4 points-per-game average. In 2010 Sullivan’s season was disrupted by injuries and he dealt with the passing of his father. Certainly Sullivan won’t use those as excuses, but you have to think it impacted him in some form or another.  Sullivan should enter the 2011 season in full health and he’ll have a shot to solidify his standing as the team’s anchor in the middle.

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Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 39 Comments »

39 Responses to “A Look At Rounds 2 Through 7 Under Spielman And Co.”

  1. By Parody on Mar 2, 2011 | Reply

    I’m not sold on Sullivan. He’s going to have to really impress to show that he still deserves to be leading the linemen. Also, I was one of those that was disappointed with the performance of Gerhart. Maybe it was partially due to the predictable playcalling. It seemed that (at least while Chilly was still employed) every time he stepped on the field, he was getting the ball. He’s going to have to improve on his pass-blocking skills. AP is should be easily getting 80% of the carries, and we need all the help we can get on obvious passing downs. Currently we don’t have a great pass blocking RB, so this is the main area that Toby should focus on improving so that he can justify the spot that we drafted him at.

  2. By paul on Mar 2, 2011 | Reply

    Wow not one single starter.

  3. By Parody on Mar 2, 2011 | Reply

    Hate to burst your bubble paul, but Loadholt, Sullivan and Rice were all starters for every game that they played in last year. Also, Griffen, Robison, Guion and D’Imperio have a very good chance at earning a starting position next year, while Sanford and Tyrell Johnson aren’t ruled out as starters for 2011.

    There’s a lot of good potential in that group, but they all need to continue doing what it takes to improve their skills.

  4. By CaribooBill on Mar 2, 2011 | Reply

    You forgot Joe Webb – 6th round – he’s a starter!

  5. By K'net on Mar 2, 2011 | Reply

    Wait a sec, considering Gerhart is playing behind the (IMHO) best RB in the NFL I think that he did great. When AP is hot there is just no reason to take him out unless he is hurt or we’re up by thirty points and he is winded, and with the kind of stamina he has he never seems to get winded. If Gerhart gets the carries, I firmly believe he can get the yards. It is great to see AP break out for 40+ yards, but I’d take Gerhart getting 4 yards/play (and no penalties) anytime. He has even been improving, look at his yards/carry in the washington and the second chicago game, it improved (and that is saying something, considering the bears defense and I believe our O-line was suffering more the chicago game). Gerhart is reliable, and he actually had a better rookie season than Chester Taylor did. Don’t get me wrong, I like AP, but it is hard to prove yourself when you hardly get a chance.

    @Parody, but I’m pretty sure that the first few games that all Gerhart did was pass block, the most they gave him the ball before the washington game was seven times during the NE game. Aside from the washington and chicago game the fewest carries AP had this season was 14.

    I was hoping he would come in and become the next C. Taylor, and he may not be now, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

  6. By Titus on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply

    As I recall, Toby Gerhart looked unimpressive the first half of the season, but his intelligence and teachable spirit started to shine in the second half– did everyone forget the Redskins game when AP was hurt in the first quarter???? Gerhart was impressive in that game– pounding out some good gains. In fact, everyone on the blogs was shouting praises over Gerhart. He will be a very good back in the next two or three years– very, very good. I am surprised Mike, who should know better than me, mentioned the Chicago game in week 15 and not the Redskins game where Gerhart first showed how good he can be— and every week you could see the progression— I was disappointed the first 5 games or so, but then he kept improving—

  7. By wacky on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply


  8. By Carl K on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply

    I like both Toby Gerhart, and Ryan Cook… my beef is I don’t like it when the Vikings trade picks and try to move up and get a guy. It never seems to work out….. ie- John David Booty.

    Mike Wobschall – 7 rounds of drafting in 3 years and we have 1 star on the list. Sidney Rice, and the Vikings can’t get him resigned. A FIRST ROUND TENDER OF 3.8 MIL. C’omon Man he is worth way more than that. GET IT DONE SPIELMAN.


  9. By Carl K on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply

    Mike Wobschall is not a big fan of Joe Webb..

  10. By Carl K on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply

    Rice was not drafted in the last 3 years.. and neither was Robinson.
    So NO big stars in 3 years of drafting.

  11. By Ryan on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply

    I’m happy tj will not get a tender its about time, its amazing how he manage to stay on this team after all these years. That’s one monkey off our back.

  12. By K'net on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply

    @Ryan, amazing he stayed on the team? I think its amazing he stayed in the league. I also think it is amazing that he thinks that playing the free agent market will be good for him.

  13. By James on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply

    If nick fairley is available at 12 I’d say we grab him, since pat won’t be back he is aging our run stuffing defense will get an upgrade with fairley.

  14. By Calvin WIlson on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply

    To win a super bowl you need a good quarterback and Ryan Mallet is that qb. Draft Ryan Mallet in two years Minnesta Vikings will win a super bowl.

  15. By Canadian Vikes Fan on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply

    Calvin Wilson thank you, I’ve been saying that all offseason, Ryan Mallett has all the tools to be a superstar and the Vikings need to draft him.

  16. By Nick on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply

    Theres no way Fairley will drop to 12th – more chance of Gabbert AND Newton being there. Cam Jordan in the first and Mallet or Kaepernick in the second.

  17. By Ironman on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply

    How could you guys forget about percy harvin!!
    And we need to get Julio Jones if Rice leaves!
    If not go for Mallet in the second round

  18. By Ben Marx on Mar 3, 2011 | Reply

    I hope safety is in the draft plans this year, I believe that is our problem in the secondary.I just watched as two of the top free agent safeties(Sanders, Otogwe) who I hoped the Vikes were going to make a run at , ink with other teams.It don’t take a football guru to see that Madiu Williams is just plain awful.He is always late in coverage and he can’t wrap up tackles, man even Cutler ran over him!

  19. By geiber on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    Did Everyone forget about percy come on the guys incredible!

  20. By geiber on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    @Calvin WIlson, i feel the same way! Ryan will be a superbowl contending QB and we need to get him!

  21. By TW VIKE on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    Mike Numbskull should have left with Chilly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. By Bubba on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    Percy was a first round pick – Mikes is listing round 2 -7.
    If you count Percy, we have 1 star in the last 3 years.
    18 picks in the draft over the last 3 years. (All Rounds)
    4 have been cut.
    2 are high round dudds. (Ryan Cook, Tyrell Johnson)
    If you count the others who are inactive guys. Over half our picks in the last 3 years are non factors…
    Sidney and Robinson have been in the NFL over three years. Deimperio was cut.

  23. By Bubba on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    Even the picks that are “factors” are struggling to be “solid” starters.

  24. By Bubba on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    I give the drafting over the last 3 years a D+

  25. By Rogerthevikefan on Mar 4, 2011 | Reply

    Dimperio is on the practice squad and he likely will be are next starting fb unless they draft Owen Maricec(last name is hard to spell) the guy from Stanford who played both Fb and Lb while also playing special teams. Hope they draft a Te Jordan Cameron from USC or Rob Housler from FAU (FLORIDA ATLANTIC)

  26. By Joe Schmoe on Mar 5, 2011 | Reply

    give Gerhart more time, he’ll be fine with a FULL training camp instead of a shortened one. he can be John Kuhn… he’s never going to be AD, but John Kuhn is a darn good player. and also, i’m not sold on Sullivan. just don’t think he has the strength and athleticism needed to anchor the line. sorry, johnny.

  27. By wacky on Mar 5, 2011 | Reply

    spielmans, just a good talker, thats it, he is not a football guy at all….he sould try out for the cheerleading squad!! they need to fire him!!!!

  28. By 4eversteve on Mar 5, 2011 | Reply

    A couple of the last comments pertain to our fullback situation, I like what Ryan D’Imperio brings to the table and felt he should have been the starting fullback for the Vikings instead of Tahi. My guess is he didn’t have a good enough grasp of the playbook to get the job. Tahi knew the offense, but still had no clue how to execute a block he only seem to know how to get in the way. Thankful that he won’t be in a Viking uniform this year.

  29. By knight123 on Mar 5, 2011 | Reply

    Gerhardt makes me think of Boom-Boom brown except he is bigger and faster
    I know Bill Brown, he went from being a mainstay of our backfield to a paper salesman but never lost that instinct to go north and south. Gerhardt isn’t going to run east or west looking for the opening like AD does so if we can get him some holes to run through you all will be singing another tune at the end of next
    year, I know that’s my opinion but I do believe he was a solid second round pick.

  30. By knight123 on Mar 5, 2011 | Reply

    One more thing, our blocking in the backfield was embarrasing if you watched that in the super bowl those backs showed how it’s supposed to be done.

  31. By Austin Pulczinski on Mar 5, 2011 | Reply

    @Bubba- I understand that a lot of the recent picks have been duds but the same thing is true for half of the NFL. You can’t really blame anybody for that. A lot of it is a guessing game.

  32. By Alex Collyard on Mar 5, 2011 | Reply

    I’m hoping that our failure to pick an overall producing draft class in the past 4 years is because of Chilly leaning over Spielman’s shoulder. Signing good free agents is fine, but it’s better to have a guy that’s all Viking and not “just playing the business”.

    I have a feeling things are going to be drastically different next year. We should be excited about that. I have a feeling (as long as we trade for a few more picks and don’t trade up for “better ones”) we will be looking at the best rookie class we’ve seen in a long time.

  33. By ghost on Mar 6, 2011 | Reply

    I believe Spielman has a pretty good football mind – don’t forgot Childress had most of the power – he had control of the 53 man roster – with that advantage doesn’t matter what Spielman or the scouts say?

    I believe Spielman should have final say on the roster – with inputs from the coaches of course – never a good idea for a coach to have this power might be THE reason Childress was hated so much by players? – who cares if players don’t like the gm that his job title – Spielman doesn’t wear this title but same difference in my mind.

  34. By dan browning on Mar 9, 2011 | Reply

    i see the two qb,s for vikings iowas- ricky stanzi and minnesotas adam weber

  35. By livin on Mar 13, 2011 | Reply

    OK!I think every thing will be OK. Don’t worry about it. cheap jerseys Nothing is impossible.

  36. By Curt on Mar 16, 2011 | Reply

    Everyone saying that the vikings failed badly at drafting. 2 offensive rookies of the year in the last 4 years, number of 1st round selections in the last 4 years.. 2. Pick before that, Chad Greenway. As for the picks mentioned in the blog Gerhart, Rice, Allen, and Robinson have proved they can play at NFL level. Allen didn’t look great this year but he’ll be good in nickel and dime packages where he belongs. Cook was plagued with injuries and I think he’ll pan out in the next couple years. Everson Griffon and Robinson will be able to fill in for the eventual loss (I think its inevitable) of Ray Edwards, and we’ll see how good they really are. Late round picks have been mediocre but I don’t think people are giving credit where credit is due.

  37. By Lina on Apr 16, 2011 | Reply

    j4ZIhp Tuoochdwn! That’s a really cool way of putting it!

  38. By Max on Jul 31, 2011 | Reply

    I don’t like a lot of these picks

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