I suppose I’m a little behind on recapping the rest of the draft after posting a few thoughts about Vikings first-round pick, quarterback Christian Ponder. The selection of Kyle Rudolph, the consensus top-ranked tight end available in the draft in the second round took many by surprise. However, I think considering the notion that he could have gone in the first round if not for injury concerns, it was a worthy gamble. Visanthe Shiancoe is by no means young, and disappeared at times last season. Rudolph can provide another viable target for Ponder or whoever starts next season, so I think it was a good gamble in the second round. I also wonder if this spells the end for Jim Kleinsasser in Minnesota?
After watching the following video:
I come away with a few impressions of Rudolph. First, he looks to be well built and athletic. He ran a 4.68 40 at the combine, which furthers those assertions. ESPN Insider also lauds his ball skills and mental toughness, both of which are going to be key elements if he’s going to provide any sort of upgrade in Minnesota.
Second of all, and perhaps most importantly, it looks as though he’s not the least bit shy about going over the middle and taking a hit. That physical toughness, when coupled with the aforementioned mental toughness, will no doubt bode well for him, and probably endear him to fans who love guys who make the extra effort.
Overall, if I was going to grade this pick, I’d give it a solid A-. Just a slight down grade since the Vikings really didn’t need a tight end, but in fact still got a very good value. Rudolph was the 30th best ranked player by Scouts Inc.
As for the other picks, I’ll come out and say that I’m not exactly rote on any of them. From what I hear, Christian Ballard was a very good pick in the fourth round. A tackle/end hybrid expected to fill the role of departing Pat Williams, Ballard received a score of 78 from Scouts Inc. (I think of it like a Madden rating), whereas the players immediately before and after him in the fourth round were 56 and 44, respectively. Good value, indeed.
Similarly, cornerback Brandon Burton scored a 77, and he was surrounded by a 64 and a 20, so he seemingly provides good value for the Vikings with their top fifth-rounder. Word is that he can play both zone and man coverage relatively well, and isn’t afraid to play press coverage, though he can struggle if he doesn’t get his hands on the receiver right away. Offensive lineman Demarcus Love is a bit of a sleeper pick, as his measureables project a guy who should be able to play left tackle at this level, but his production has not exactly mirrored this adequately. Insider lauds him as a quiet leader with a great work ethic who is good in the community. Props to that. Brandon Fusco was selected a few picks later as a center from Slippery Rock, a Division II college. Fusco won the Gene Upshaw award as DII Lineman of the year, and it was noted that he held his own against DI competition at the Senior Bowl. He could give John Sullivan a run for his money in the years to come.
The final players the Vikings snagged in the draft were outside linebacker Ross Homan from Ohio State, safety Mistral Raymond from Southern Florida, defensive end De’Aundre Reed from Arizona, and finally wide receiver Stephen Burton from West Texas A&M. I don’t pretend to know too much about any of them, but I will note that Homan was something of an interception machine at OSU, and that Reed didn’t play much in college but was deserving of a better fate due to his skill level. All in all, I think the Vikings did OK to fill some needs, but I think it also shows that this club will be active in free agency to fill some roles as well.
I joined Troy Olsen, better known as KCRoyalMan, on his I-70 baseball podcast on Monday night to chat about the morale of Twins fans, the Twins v. Royals series that recently culminated, and the Royals farm system as well. Take a listen if you’d like!
I also submitted a column to editing for Baseball Press on teams that are hot out of the gate. Link forthcoming. (SPOILER ALERT: I’m pretty harsh on the same Royals that I was kind to on the podcast.)
I asked this on my Facebook page, and I’ll ask it here for the comments section as well: What former Twin that is still playing do you miss the most? As in, someone who could help the club right now? I’d have to go with J.J. Hardy. I have my reasons.
Big props to everyone involved in capturing Osama bin Laden. We stand united, friends! Thanks for reading, and have a terrific Tuesday!