Monday Morning Mailbag Extra: A Look At Defensive Draft Picks

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 11, 2011 – 7:03 am

In this week’s Monday Morning Mailbag, a reader asked about the Vikings defensive draft picks and what we can expect from them in their rookie seasons. Because the Vikings chose 5 defensive players in the draft this year, the question was better-served to be answered in a blog entry than in the Monday Morning Mailbag.

So, here it goes… 

DL Christian Ballard: This is a player about whom Vikings fans should be excited. He measures in at 6-4, 283 pounds, which gives him the frame to play either DE or DT in the Vikings 4-3 defensive scheme. Conveniently, Ballard has the skill set as well as the frame to be a versatile lineman capable of playing multiple positions. Ballard spent the first 2 years of his career at left DE before moving inside and starting all 13 games of his junior season at DT. In his final season, Ballard rotated often at both spots, starting 8 contests on the outside and 5 more inside. Wherever the Vikings need an infusion of talent – DE or DT – Ballard looks able to provide it.

CB Brandon Burton: He was drafted in the 5th round (#150 overall) out of Utah and will compete for playing time on special teams and maybe even on defense right away. He’s got an uphill climb to get into the base defensive package and even nickel situations, but if he can display coverage ability and sound tackling technique, it’s not out of the question for him to earn playing time over Asher Allen and Chris Cook.

LB Ross Homan: A gritty LB from Ohio State, Homan comes to the Vikings with an outside shot to find playing time at LB but with a great chance to be a core special teams player. Homan was a leader on Ohio State’s defense and you can tell almost immediately after seeing him play that he’s a guy who gives 100% effort on every snap and is willing to do anything to help the team win. I think he can be a Heath Farwell-type of producer on special teams pretty quickly, which is saying a lot because Farwell is one of the best special teams players in the NFL.

DB Mistral Raymond: He’s 6-1, 191 pounds and played both CB and S at South Florida. The Vikings chose him with a 6th-round pick (#170 overall) and I’d love to see nothing more than for him to succeed in the NFL. His back story is incredible and is worth researching if you aren’t familiar with it. I expect that he’ll compete immediately for playing time on special teams and I’m optimistic that he can find a role on defense, whether it’s at CB or S.

DL D’Aundre Reed: This is the draft pick I know the least about. He stands at 6-4, 261 pounds and is listed as a DE. From what I can tell, he’ll play primarily on the right side, which means he’ll be behind Jared Allen. Because Allen obviously has the starting spot locked down, Reed will be in a good position to watch an established and talented veteran while honing his pass-rushing skills.

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24 Responses to “Monday Morning Mailbag Extra: A Look At Defensive Draft Picks”

  1. By Sean on Jul 11, 2011 | Reply

    Good breakdown – I get attached to the rookies we draft so I am hoping Ross or Erin start and we let Leber go. I hope we cut M Williams and have Raymond the backup safety for now, and keep 5 corners (Winfield Griffin Allen Cook Burton)

    Williams wall suspension pending? I hope Ballard is ready to play now haha, I like him a lot though

  2. By Stoney on Jul 11, 2011 | Reply

    Chris Cook looked good in camp last season, didn’t he have injury issues in the reg season. With his size I would love to see him in the mix

  3. By Mike Wobschall on Jul 11, 2011 | Reply

    Yes, Cook had 2 knee surgeries last year, which obviously derailed his rookie season. I’m looking forward to watching him continue to develop this year.

  4. By Parody on Jul 11, 2011 | Reply

    Hopefully Cook’s injury problems are behind him. As a second round pick, he should be lining up as a starter soon, and with the age of Winfield, we can expect to need a new starter at corner after two years at most.

    I’d still like to see the team go after Mark Herzlich once the CBA is settled. The rookie already has a great story attributing to his football skills, and is very likely to become one of the most notable undrafted players in the NFL once he has completed his career. How great would it be to write the rest of his story in Vikings Lore?

  5. By Robbnar on Jul 11, 2011 | Reply

    I am actually looking forward to pre-season games (if there are any) to see some of these rookies hit the field. I am also interested to see how Everson Griffen and Emmanuel Arceneaux perform. It’s been so long since the season ended, people tend to forget some of the people that are waiting in the wings…

  6. By Carl K on Jul 11, 2011 | Reply

    Chris Cook has always had a history with injuries and missing games. In 2005 at Virginia he had a broken leg. In 2007 he had knee problems and in 08 he missed the entire season because of academic problems. He had 2 knee injuies for the Vikings in 2010… and this offseason was not a great one for him.

    Most draft scouts didn’t project him to be a great corner in the NFL because he doesn’t have great lateral quickness to shadow sharp route runners. Most scouts said he had the size and toughness to be a great NFL safety. At 6-2 210lbs he looks and has the versatility to play as a cover 2 safety.

    I would cut M. Williams and I would move Cook to SS and let him, T. Johnson and J. Sanford battle for the starting job.

    I would let Mistral Raymond battle H. Abdullah for the FS spot.
    I would pick up a quality corner in free agency (Asomugha or Grimes- I am keeping my fingers crossed) and let Burton learn the ropes for a year or 2 behind Winfield.

    Our secondary is not far from being very solid. Cook to safety and a free agent corner and we are looking strong.

    I would spend the money to sign Rice, a top corner, and a solid run blocking RG. Sign Herzilch and we are good to go.

  7. By Carl K on Jul 11, 2011 | Reply

    I like Cedric Griffen… but he was not one of the top corners in the NFL before his first knee injury. So I am thinking if he is healthy he would be a solid upgrade in the nickle over Asher Allen.

  8. By Woodboat on Jul 11, 2011 | Reply

    @ Carl K… I have no problems with your thoughts. I have no idea what kind of corner Cook can be in the NFL, but I remind you that Rice didn’t come out of the gates as a first class WR and has had his share of injuries, and we are all in a panic that he will sign elsewhere. I’m not going to count Cook out just yet.

    I’d love to see a 1st tier CB sign with the VIkes, but I don’t know if they’ll have the cap space to do it.

    On Herzlich… he has a great story, but a great story doesn’t qualify him to play in the NFL. He may be a potential pro-bowler,I don’t know, but don’t let his history color your opinion of what he will be able to do on sundays.

  9. By Carl K on Jul 11, 2011 | Reply

    My free agent wish list
    #1 – WR Sidney Rice
    #2 – CB Nnamdi Asomugha, Brent Grimes or Johnathan Joseph
    #3 – RG Harvey Dahl – Big nasty run blocker. (That is right Frederick Jones, Oline is ahead of QB on my list)

    #4 – OLB Manny Lawson or Mark Herzlich
    #5 – Veteran QB Marc Bulger, Matt Hasselbeck, Rex Grossman or Patrick Ramsey. It doesn’t really matter who the veteran is, cause I like Ponder or Joe Webb by week 2.

    Am I asking for too much?

  10. By Frederick Jones on Jul 11, 2011 | Reply

    @Carl K,

    Your plan is a good one, unfortunately no one can cover all the areas on a football team without writing a book.

    If the Vikings have money to sign the current Vikings Free Agents, they should do that first. Then sign Guard Harvey Dahl or another TOP FLIGHT offensive lineman.

  11. By Carl K on Jul 11, 2011 | Reply

    @Woodboat – cap space is a legit concern. The Vikings almost signed safety OJ Atogwe before the lockout. That leads me to believe that safety and corner are both a concern. Because of the cap space issue, I think the Vikings will only attempt to sign 1 top level DB. I think it is less of a gamble to spend the money on a proven NFL corner and convert Cook to safety, than to spend alot of money on 1 of the average safeties available, and hope Cook and Griffen are healthy enough to play at a high level. Corner talent in free agency is better than the safety talent available in free agency right now.

  12. By Carl K on Jul 11, 2011 | Reply

    I really like Chris Cook and I think he has a bright future in the NFL. But I really believe with his great instict and feel for route progression and ability to make plays on the b@ll, he would be an outstanding safety in the NFL. I think in his first year he showed he could be very active agianst the run as well as the p@ss. He is solid in run support and a playmaker ball hawk on p@ss plays. Exactly what you need in a safety. Dallas was looking to draft him in the second round to play safety had the Vikings not already grabbed him with the 1st pick in the second round. I am not down on Cook… I think with the corner talent available in FA and the versatility and size Cook has lets make the most of it. Lets put him in a position where he can make plays.

  13. By Carl K on Jul 11, 2011 | Reply

    @Frederick – I don’t think the Vikes have that many holes to fill.
    We need to sign H Abdullah, Erin Henderson, Longwell, and Ryan Cook.
    I cant believe those guys would be difficult to resign.

    We already have good young depth and talent at many positions. The Vikings also already have great skill playmakers on offense. The new CBA will push the cap up… and with out Favre we have 20 mil free. If you add up what Edwards, Leber, Pat Williams was making and you cut high dollar guys like M. Williams, B Berrian and Herreria you have a lot of room to go get afew great free agents. I think the Vikings can be aggressive in signing Rice, a great DB and a solid starter on the oline for sure.

  14. By Carl K on Jul 11, 2011 | Reply

    I can’t wait to see what the Vikings do in free agency!

  15. By Carl K on Jul 11, 2011 | Reply

    I think the Vikings are in a position to make a play for a few of the guys in the top 60 free agents. I am sure guys like Asomugha, Vincent Jackson, Steve Smith, Aubrayo Franklin, Antonio Cromartie, Brent Grimes, Ike Taylor, Adam Vinatieri, Hasselbeck, Quintin Mikell, Carl Nicks, Dawan Landy, Eric Weddle, Johnathan Joseph, Marc Bulger, Harvey Dahl, Manny Lawson, just to name a few will all be on the Vikings radar.

  16. By Carl K on Jul 11, 2011 | Reply

    The free agent pool is loaded… and the Vikings should have money to spend.

  17. By Woodboat on Jul 11, 2011 | Reply

    Well, you know its gonna cost a load to keep Rice, which I hope they do. On the O-Line, I’d rather see them sign a decent RT and move Loadholt to RG where his very pedestrian speed won’t be as much of a hindrance. I wouldn’t mind seeing the VIkes go into the season with Ponder, Webb, and an old guy that they don’t have to pay a fortune for (or trade draft picks for) at QB. I think that Ponder can run a 3-5 step drop, 2 TE set kind of offense. With Shiancoe and Rudolph on the line, AP in the backfield, Rice and Harvin split wide… with quick, short strikes, we’ll be fine. Heck, if we can’t keep Rice, move Jimmy or Dugan onto the line as well. Heck, maybe this Arceneaux kid can play… can’t wait to see what he can do.

  18. By Woodboat on Jul 11, 2011 | Reply

    On defense, I think the line will be fine, and I think they will be fine at LB, regardless of who they are able to resign. I like the backups we have for the line and LB, and I think they have the potential to do some great things. Obviously our DBs need help, pretty much across the board. I like your wish list, Carl. I don’t know if they’ll have the cap space to go for a top flight corner, but that’s the top of my wish list, after Rice. Heck, with our O Line not giving the QB enough time for the WRs to get down field, Rice may actually be 2nd to a topflight CB.

    Who I’d REALLY like them to sign is… a new defensive coordinator with a different scheme than we have been seeing the last few years. Our defense is predicated upon the front 4 applying pressure before the DBs get beat. We don’t have DBs for it…. period. Give added protection on the line and let your WR school the Vikes DBs… easy as shooting fish in a barrel. QBs get too much time when the Vikes play them.

    I’d like to see J Allen play like J Randle used to. He had the power to line up anywhere on the line that offered him the best chance to get to the QB… which he did… a lot. Stir that line up a bit, coach!!! :)

  19. By Stoney on Jul 12, 2011 | Reply

    Woodboat, I’ve always said we need to put more pressure on opps QB. Way too much time. Hopefully we will blitz more this season, and good idea about Allen.

  20. By Carl K on Jul 12, 2011 | Reply

    Woodboat – I think Frazier will have a major roll in our defensive scheme. I agree that our d-line will be ok… and I agree some changes need to be made as well. The days of our front 4 controlling the line of scrimmage, shutting down the run and putting pressure on the QB are long gone.

    J Allen, Ballard, Robison and E.Griffen can get to the QB in a hurry, but I don’t think they are the type of players that can control and dominate the line of scrimmage.

    So I would agree with your idea of trying to move (J Allen) and others around to create some disruption.

  21. By ty on Jul 15, 2011 | Reply

    if chris cook could stay healthy and the rookies coming in I believe that our defense could be very outstanding in coverage and we should really let go FS (Williams).

  22. By mike l on Jul 18, 2011 | Reply

    asoughma is too spendy Rice is likely to go elsewhere meaning we should probably think about a reciever elsewhere we need a tall gritty wide out maybe none at all being we will have a new 2 TE package berrian,harvin,camarillo is good enough for this type of offense extend petersons contract bcuz he might holdout cbs are coming to health and age safety would probably be a smart additon if any big contracts should be given dewan landry i believe is available and would fit nice i like leber good veteran prescence i say keep him if hes not to expensive

  23. By Dave on Jul 19, 2011 | Reply

    we still need safeties and another solid cornerback we have to be able to stop aaron rodgers somewhat

  24. By Khelben on Jul 20, 2011 | Reply

    I love the free agent pool available, and agree Rice needs to be first. But, we have to be careful after that, because AD is due a contract next year. That is also a factor.

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