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Vikings Draft P. Williams Replacement W/ Christian Ballard In 4th Round.

April 30, 2011 by Nick in NFL Draft, PLAYER NEWS
The Minnesota Vikings finally addressed a need at defensive line by possibly adding the new Pat Williams, drafting Iowa defensive lineman Christian Ballard in the fourth round today.

The 6-foot-4, 298-pound Ballard was considered by some to be a second-round talent but slipped after reportedly testing positive for marijuana at the NFL combine.

Once again, the Vikings show they aren’t afraid to take chances on players with character questions. The team took wide receiver Percy Harvin, who tested positive for marijuana at the combine, in the first round of the 2009 draft and defensive end Everson Griffen, who faced concerns about his work ethic and legal issues, in the fourth round of last year’s draft.

Ballard said he’s not sure what caused his stock to drop and called the accuracy of the failed drug test report “confidential.”

“I know I’ve made mistakes in the past. I’m looking toward the future. I’m a Viking now. Whatever happened in the past is behind me.”

The Vikings needed to get younger at defensive tackle with Pat Williams facing free agency and turning 39 next season and with Pat and Kevin Williams destined for four-game suspensions for the StarCaps case.

The Vikings also are in danger of losing defensive end Ray Edwards to free agency.

In four years at Iowa, the versatile Ballard, 22, recorded 153 tackles for 12 sacks and 21.5 tackles for a loss. The All-Big Ten honorable-mention choice started 13 games — eight at defensive end,

five at tackle — and recorded 43 tackles and three sacks last season.

The Vikings talked to Ballard about playing tackle, but he’s willing to play both spots if necessary.

“Playing both has really given me the opportunity to take my game to the next level at either position,” Ballard said.

As a side note, Ballard’s uncle, Hank, was a jazz musician, and Ballard can play the cello.

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Our Thoughts: Defensive Tackle was a glaring need of the Minnesota Vikings coming into the draft.  Not only is Pat Williams not returning to the team but we recently found out that Kevin Williams is expected to miss the first four games of the year due to suspension. Great pick, great value, no complaints here.

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