It’s pretty clear that the Vikings are either going to pick Matt Kalil, Morris Claiborne or trade down in the first round. So let’s take the draft analysis a step further and preview players the Vikings might take with their second pick. In case you’re wondering, I’m using my own instincts and the various mock drafts to select players to preview. So for all I know, these guys will all be gone in the first round, or will still be available when the Vikings draft in the third round. If it's the latter, let's all pretend this was a third round preview, ok? Thanks.
Previous Entries in the Get to Know ‘Em Series: Harrison Smith
The Vikings do not currently have a wide receiver on their roster that could be described as a #1 receiver. Percy Harvin is a combination of a running back and a slot receiver. Michael Jenkins is a decent receiver, but is not a player that other teams fear. Devin Aromashodu is fast, but there’s not a whole lot else to recommend him. Of course, you all know that. The problem for the Vikings going into the draft is not whether to draft a wide receiver, but whether there is a receiver who can become that #1 wide receiver. And that brings us to the biggest dice roll of the draft: Stephen Hill, a wide receiver from Georgia Tech. And what better way to evaluate a risky draft pick then by making an overly long Simpson’s reference?
Hill is a 6’4, 215lb specimen with a 4.36 forty time. That’s good! He caught only 49 passes in his three years at Georgia Tech. That’s bad! He can jump like a kangaroo, with a 39.5 inch vertical and an Olympic quality broad jump. That’s good! He dropped a lot of passes his sophomore year. That’s bad! He averaged more than 25 yards per reception in college. That’s good! Georgia Tech runs the Triple Option, which creates open deep routes and requires its receivers to learn very few routes. That’s bad! His ability to run a deep route has been compared to Randy Moss. That’s good! He’s made of Potassium Benzoate. Uhhhh…
So is Hill a project, or a combine mirage? Well, after Hill dedicated himself to football after a mediocre sophomore year (and yes, I realize this raises its own issues) he became a force to be reckoned with. He’s a good run blocker (one skill that the Triple Option emphasizes) and he’s great at the point of the catch, able to fend off defensive backs and hold onto the ball. He’s got a good burst off the line, and was successful turning bubble screens into big plays, both through his acceleration and his ability to break tackles. However, the Triple Option didn’t require Hill to have to master anywhere near the same number of routes that the NFL does. Nor did he ever face a complex coverage scheme aimed at stopping him. It’s pretty clear that the NFL is going to ask a lot more of him than his college offense, both in what he has to do, and in what he has to face. That doesn’t mean he can’t learn, however. Demaryius Thomas faced similar challenges and has turned into a quality receiver in Denver. Really, whether Hill would be a good choice comes down to whether he can adapt his physical skills to the complexity of the NFL. The scouts seem to think he can do it, and the Vikings have the time to teach him.