In the final part of this series, it’s time to look at the best day three fits for the Minnesota Vikings in the 2018 NFL Draft. Without further ado, here is part three of this article with five players on day three that I believe would be great picks for the Vikings during the 2018 NFL Draft.
Fred Warner, LB, BYU
Consensus Big Board: 138.1
My Grade: 6.71 (Mid Round 2), #46 OVR (#5 LB)
NFL Player Comp: Kyle Van Noy
Meetings with Vikings: None
Warner is a player I’m struggling with figuring out where he’ll go. Most media boards have him as a late third or fourth round pick (most in that mid-to-late fourth round range). But he compares favorably to Patriots LB Kyle Van Noy, who was taken in the early-to-mid second round, and there are rumors floating that some teams like Warner in the second round, so it’s entirely possible that he goes early in Day 2.
There’s a lot to like about Warner from his production to his athleticism to his instincts. In terms of athleticism, Warner is a linebacker-sized body with safety-level athleticism. He would allow for a hybrid-like role in Zimmer’s defense as he has shown to be very fluid in coverage in a nickel role of a defense, while also showing physicality and instincts in the run game.
Warner is extremely effective in zone coverage, can cover tight ends and running backs well, and shows excellent ability to read the QB to react and predict where the ball is going (he had seven interceptions and thirteen pass breakups in college). He moves sideline to sideline incredibly well, which is a necessity in Zimmer’s defense, and shows great potential as a backside defender. He has quick feet and fluid hips, which help him with his solid pass coverage as well as his ability to challenge ball carriers. He has the confidence needed to take on ball carriers head on, but is at times an inconsistent tackler. At times, he shows solid technique and squares up and wraps up well, but at other times, gets caught off balance and relies on arm tackles to bring down the runner. His length (or lack of) will likely be an issue in the NFL and will need to work on consistent tackling technique in order to make up for that fact. He shows vigor in shooting gaps, and has good instincts and anticipation paired with his athleticism that allows him to attack the open space as soon as it’s developing. He’s shown an aggressiveness to reach the backfield and has the flexibility to work through holes at the line of scrimmage while taking the best angle to the ball most of the time. He does struggle however when contact is made at the line and it can be difficult for him to regain balance and work through that contact.
Warner is a guy that I think would be a perfect weapon for Zimmer in this defense. His versatility in getting into the backfield, experience in the nickel, and athleticism is something Zimmer should be pounding the table for anytime past the first round.
Austin Corbett, OG, Nevada
Consensus Big Board: 104.9
My Grade: 6.53 (Early-Mid Round 3), #56 OVR (#8 Interior OL, #5 OG)
NFL Player Comp: John Greco
Meetings with Vikings: None
Austin Corbett is a nearly perfect fit for the Vikings for a variety of reasons. A left tackle at Nevada, Corbett’s size and skill set best translates to the guard position in the NFL, however he has the versatility to play any of the positions on the line that the Vikings have been looking for as he could easily step in at left or right tackle if necessary. He is an athletic lineman who gets to the second level well and has the mobility necessary for our blocking schemes, but also displays the power and technique that make for a balanced blocking attack. His experience at left tackle will allow him to be a great pass protection guard and he shows quick footwork and great mirroring ability, although his footwork doesn’t cover enough space, which is solved by moving him inside. He’s constantly working his hands to get a better grip on the defender, and shows a strong initial punch at the line. He has the anchor in pass protection to absorb bull rush moves while having the athleticism necessary to counter speed edge rushers. He’s aggressive in the run game with incredible strength at the point of attack. His technique shows a dedication to his craft, and his timing with each move is executed perfectly. He does struggle at times with becoming too impatient before first contact with a defender and can play a little wild at times if he doesn’t get his hand contact first, but he’s a rare blend of athleticism, power, and technique that would serve the Vikings well.
I’m having a tough time reading where Corbett will end up falling for sure. He could get drafted anywhere between the second round and fourth round, depending on how teams evaluate him (I’ve seen grades on scouting reports for him ranging from early second to fifth round), but the aggregate media big board puts him in the early fourth round, so that’s what I’m using for now.
Jaylen Samuels, TE, North Carolina State
Consensus Big Board: 124.4
My Grade: 5.87 (Early Round 4), #98 OVR (#5 TE)
NFL Player Comp: Aaron Hernandez
Meetings with Vikings: Private Workout (Official 30)
Before anyone panics or scoffs at the Aaron Hernandez player comp, keep in mind it’s an on-field only comp. Samuels doesn’t have the off the field issues that Hernandez had, and I feel like I can safely say, we don’t need to be concerned about Samuels murdering anyone like Hernandez did…
So on that note, Samuels is a player that many draft analysts are having trouble agreeing with how he projects. Some think he could be a fullback, others say he’s a pass-catching running back, others think he should stick at tight end where he played at NC State (very similar to the discussion around Aaron Hernandez when he came into the NFL out of Florida). Personally, I’m in the ‘stick at tight end’ group, but that shows the athleticism that he has at tight end to be considered a potential pass catching back. One of the first things you’ll notice about Samuels is, like Hernandez, he’s not the biggest tight end in the world – he’s a little undersized at 6’0” (rather than the typical 6’4” or 6’5” desired size for a tight end). However, despite that lack of height, Samuels is a dependable route runner who uses quick adjustments, dependable footwork, and subtle movements to create space. He finds and attacks the spaces in a zone defense well and has dependable hands when the ball is thrown his way. He showed a solid ability to grab balls thrown too low or behind him and finishes catches well in traffic. His catch radius is a bit smaller than many other tight ends, simply due to his frame, but he shows good ability to make adjustments to the ball in the air and establishes his frame well to beat defenders at the catch point. He has some semi-explosive ability after the catch and utilizes a variety of attacks with the ball ranging from putting his head down to making tacklers miss to just outrunning them. His biggest issue is that despite showing that physicality with the ball and making catches, he lacks the ability to be an in-line blocker – partly due to size and partly due to lack of experience. He shows some ability to block in space where he can use his athleticism to his advantage, but it’s not necessarily a strong suit of his.
Samuels is the athletic playmaker that the Vikings were looking for in Burton this offseason and while he isn’t the big redzone target that it would be nice to have to pair with Rudolph, he does show the ability to be a solid receiving option for two TE sets (which Kirk Cousins loves). Like Hernandez, Samuels will never be the primary tight end on any team, but instead will benefit from and compliment another pass catching tight end, and together could be a deadly duo for any linebacker corps. Samuels could see a statline in our offense like Hernandez had in New England of 600 yards and 5 TDs a year, similar to Samuels’ stats at NC State.
DJ Reed, CB, Kansas State
Consensus Big Board: 156.6
My Grade: 5.55 (Late Round 5), #140 OVR (#14 CB)
NFL Player Comp: Nickell Robey-Coleman
Meetings with Vikings: None
Throughout his time here, Zimmer has been linked to Robey-Coleman several times during free agency, and yet we’ve never actually gotten him. With Reed, Zimmer would be able to have that style of corner on this defense to play the nickel. Reed has exceptional zone coverage abilities and has the vision and quickness needed to play the ball well in the slot. He plays with solid technique and has the ability to locate the ball quickly and disrupt plays before they can start. When given the chance, he makes plays with the ball and had seven interceptions in just two years as a starter at Kansas State. He does well at hand placement in press and is extremely competitive at winning that battle, although he doesn’t seem to have the strength to disrupt larger receivers at the line. He is physical and plays well above his size and refuses to back down in contact, although he can be overpowered at the catch point. He has extremely fluid hips and quick feet that allow him to change direction quickly and keep up with speedier receivers. His footwork is smooth and he is patient when changing direction, which doesn’t allow him to get beat easily by shifty receivers. However, his biggest issues are his struggle with receivers in man coverage and tackling, both of which are due to his frame. In terms of tackling, he shows an intriguing willingness and competitiveness to get involved in the run game, but he too often got too aggressive and overran tackles, which will give up big runs on the outside. Also, due to his size, he can get overpowered on blocks quickly and he struggles to break away from those blocks. He mirrors routes well in man coverage, but just gets overpowered on the outside, which will make him solely an inside corner in the NFL, but that plays into our need for depth at slot well.
In terms of fit with our team, his weaknesses play a bit into our defensive scheme. His tackling issues are partly just due to him needing to be taught patience in the run game and will also have the support from our linebackers and safeties to prevent him being the last man to take down the ball carrier. His ability to mirror in man and his zone abilities will play well into our scheme, and when moved into the slot, some of those issues with his strength should be hidden a bit better. He has a really likeable skillset at slot, but may take some time to develop and grow into his role in the NFL. He likely won’t be a starter in year one at the slot, but has the ability to become an above average slot corner in three years. As an added bonus, Reed has the ability to make an impact as a punt and kick returner from day one as well as in special teams coverage. He seems like an ideal immediate slot depth project and special teams player for Zimmer’s defense and could add some versatility in a few years at corner.
Kylie Fitts, EDGE, Utah
Consensus Big Board: 173.3
My Grade: 5.36 (Early Round 6), #160 OVR (#15 EDGE)
NFL Player Comp: Jason Babin
Meetings with Vikings: Senior Bowl
Fitts is an extremely athletic edge rusher who would fit in well as a defensive end in Zimmer’s defense. As a pass rusher, he has a variety of traits that are looked for in edge rushers: a fluid and quick first step, the pure speed needed to beat many offensive tackles, a variety of counters that can be used, and solid hand technique. He constantly plays with aggression, urgency, and energy and is always working to get out of a block. He shows some power along with a high-end athletic skillset and shows the ability to play in shallow zone and spy coverage as well. So, if he’s good at all of that, why is he a mid-day three pick?
Fitts biggest issue has been his durability. While he played all of 2015, he only played parts of 2016 (2 games) and 2017 (9 games). The question is will that durability come back to bite him in the NFL or will he prove to be more durable than he was the last two years in struggling with a foot injury. He also struggles at times in the run game against offensive tackles (although he dominates tight ends when given the opportunity) as he’ll get uprooted and knocked off balance instead of setting his anchor and setting the edge. But despite these issues, Fitts projects to be a rotational player in his rookie season with the potential to be a dependable player at defensive end in just a few years. If he can stay healthy, Fitts has the look of a potential Pro Bowl defensive end with his ability in the pass rush, as long as he keeps looking to improve his hand technique and uses his variety of pass rushing moves. He would make for great depth and could be a solid replacement for Griffen in a few years.
Day Three Fits Honorable Mentions (in order of grade):
Will Richardson, OT, North Carolina State
Andrew Brown, DL, Virginia
Quin Blanding, S, Virginia
Allen Lazard, WR, Iowa State
Skai Moore, LB, South Carolina
Alex Cappa, OT, Humboldt State
Tyquan Lewis, EDGE, Ohio State
Wyatt Teller, OG, Virginia Tech
Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin
Darius Phillips, CB, Western Michigan
Jack Cichy, LB, Wisconsin
Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern
Akrum Wadley, RB, Iowa
Godwin Igwebuike, S, Northwestern
Dalton Schultz, TE, Stanford
And that concludes the best fits for the Vikings in the 2018 NFL Draft, and now it’s a long waiting process of two days to see if any of these fits end up becoming Vikings or not!
If you want to go back to the other fits for day one or day two, use the links below!