Vikings Load Up On BIG Talent Late In The Draft
The question, of course, is whether they were able to land some USDA Prime or merely a load of tripe.
By the fourth round, the NFL draft is very iffy. People always talk about those few famous players who originally were drafted late. But the fact is, most late-rounders never see the light of day in the NFL. If Minnesota winds up with one solid starter from Saturday’s group of draftees, it will have done well.
After two days of head-scratching selections, Rick Spielman and Co. may have stumbled onto something in the fourth round when they chose Christian Ballard, a defensive tackle out of Iowa. The Vikings now have drafted Christian Ponder and Christian Ballard. In this day and age, that’s going to be a problem. And so as not to offend anyone, both will have to go by “Non-Denominational.” Or perhaps just “Non” for short.
Ballard is a talent who slipped to the fourth round after reportedly testing positive for marijuana at the NFL scouting combine. Now, the kid plays the cello and bass. His great-uncle was Hank Ballard of “Hank Ballard and the Midnighters.” Hank Ballard wrote the Chubby Checker hit “The Twist.”
It’s easy to leap to a stereotype. No doubt, NFL front office personnel envisioned Christian (“Non”) as the sort of fellow who lives in a loft, wears a beret and smokes whatever is in the bowl while listening to jazz records. More likely, he’s just a college kid who went to a party or was hanging out with friends and did what everyone else was doing. No big deal.
“I’ve made some mistakes in the past, but I’m going to look to the future,” Ballard said via conference call. “I’m a Viking now.”
Yes, well, I hope that doesn’t mean he’s going to quit smoking and start getting DUIs.
Ballard’s little misstep could turn out to be a huge break for the Vikings. You might remember the reports that Percy Harvin tested positive for pot at the combine in 2009. Some teams backed off, and the Vikings were able to get him with the No. 22 overall pick. Harvin not only has turned out to be an exceptional player, he’s also been nothing but class since his arrival.
Based on the scouting reports and rankings, I really think Ballard has a chance to be a contributor. As for the others, I don’t know. Perhaps the most puzzling move of the day came when the Vikings traded a fifth-round pick (150th overall) to Cleveland for two sixth-rounders.
The Browns promptly used the pick to select Jason Pinkston, a 6-foot-5, 305-pound tackle out of Pittsburgh. To that point, the Vikings hadn’t drafted an offensive lineman. I mean, the draft may be deep, but it isn’t bottomless. Eighteen picks after the selection of Pinkston, they took offensive lineman DeMarcus Love. That seems odd.
The other pick I found intriguing was cornerback Brandon Burton, out of Utah. Burton considers himself “a ball hawk.” Others characterize him as a “finesse” corner. That’s not a compliment. But his dad is an engineer, and his mother is a doctor. So maybe uber-intelligent Christian (“Non”) Ponder will have someone to talk to in the locker room after all.
All in all it was a very, very interesting draft, one that is impossible to grade right now. The Vikings reached, took a few fliers, stocked up on big men toward the end, rolled the dice and hoped for the best. This is not a young team. It needs its first two selections, and at least one more from the rest of the pack, to pan out or else it will fall further behind in the division.
Saturday was all about acquiring numbers to throw at the gaping holes: two offensive linemen, two defensive linemen, two defensive backs. … And this doesn’t take into account the team’s plans for free agency, which I hope are grand plans. There is plenty of room for more help on both lines.
On the final day of the draft, the Vikings finally addressed their most glaring weaknesses. We’ll just have to see if they waited too long.
Tom Powers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
mnvikingsblog.com/newbuild Analysis: 2 defensive lineman , 2 defensive backs, and 2 o-lineman. The later part of the draft was definitely used to plug in “need picks”. The Vikings typically draft best player available but this draft was different. Ponder was a need pick, Rudolph was a value pick, and the rest of the picks were need picks as well. A lot of talent was picked up in this years draft, lets just hope that we picked up a couple gems in the later rounds. The long term success of these late round draft picks will determine the success of the Vikings this year.