Minnesota Vikings Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss – Round 1
At times, Treadwell was projected to be a high first-round pick, but he slid to the 23rd-overall selection because of a lack of speed to separate. Treadwell ended up being the fourth wide receiver selected in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Treadwell is a big, strong, possession receiver for the NFL. In college, he routinely used his size and strength to make catches over defensive backs for 50-50 passes. That made Treadwell very dangerous in the red zone. Even though he isn’t very fast, Treadwell has some run-after-the-catch skills. He can pick up yards by getting North and South while also being tough to tackle in open field. On wide receiver screens, Treadwell is dangerous. He is also a tremendous blocker for the ground game and is likely one of the best blocking receivers to come into the NFL in years.

Treadwell will struggle to separate from NFL cornerbacks, and they will be able to run with him. It also will be harder for him to complete for 50-50 passes against them because they’re bigger than the corners Treadwell typically faced at Ole Miss. Treadwell is neither explosive nor sudden, so separating will be a challenge in his route-running. He isn’t a deep threat to stretch a defense over the top.

I don’t think Treadwell is going to be a star receiver like A.J. Green, Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins or Dez Bryant. Treadwell isn’t that talented, plus he has a game-manager at quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater and plays in a running-based offense. Thus, I think Treadwell is likely to be a solid starter in the NFL and a good complement to Stefon Diggs.

Most Likely To Bust

Willie Beavers, OT, Western Michigan – Round 4
This was a tough choice, plus the Vikings were without a third-round pick. I don’t like my options because I think both Laquon Treadwell and Mackensie Alexander will be solid pros. I don’t like picking for Beavers for this either because I think he could easily turn into a solid pro. I liked him as a prospect and thought he should have been a second-day pick.

Beavers was the Broncos’ starting left tackle for the past few seasons, and his quality play earned him an invitation to the Senior Bowl. He has some size, quickness and length to him. However in Mobile, Beavers had struggles with the speed rushers and also got pushed around at times. The 6-foot-4, 324-pounder has talent, but could use refinement as the jump in competition seemed to be an issue. That could be a bigger problem in the NFL. Thus, he’s my pick for this.

The Vikings could take their time and develop Beavers at guard or tackle. Matt Kalil has been disappointing, but they also drafted T.J. Clemmings as a tackle to groom. Thus, Beavers has competition for playing time and a roster spot behind Kalil. The right side of the offensive line is also deep with veterans Phil Loadholt and Andre Smith. With the talent and depth on Minnesota’s line, a lack of opportunity to play could also lead to Beavers not panning out. I don’t think he’ll be a busted pick, but I think the possibility is greater with him than Alexander or Treadwell.

Potential Boom Pick

Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson – Round 2
The Vikings didn’t have a real need at the cornerback position after taking Trae Waynes with a first-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and landing Xavier Rhodes in the first round a few years before that. However, all NFL teams need three good corners to field a quality defense, because coaches play their nickel defenses on the majority of their snaps. Thus, a slot corner was necessary to finish off Minnesota’s young corner trio. Alexander is a perfect fit as a slot corner and could be turned into an excellent pro by Mike Zimmer and his staff.

Alexander was a superb cover corner for Clemson the past two seasons. The redshirt sophomore recorded 23 tackles with five passes broken up and zero interceptions 2015. In 2014, he had 21 tackles with six breakups and zero interceptions. Alexander is very adept at running the route and preventing separation. He doesn’t have a lot of ball skills and is undersized at 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, but as a slot corner, preventing separation is key.

With veterans Captain Munnerlyn and Terence Newman, Alexander has good veterans to learn behind. In a year or two, he could replace them, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Alexander turns into an excellent slot cornerback.

Future Depth Player

Kentrell Brothers, LB, Missouri – Round 5
Brothers was a tackling machine at Missouri. He was a tremendous run defender with instincts and showed improved pass defense skills as a senior. Brothers (6-0, 245) could be an understudy to veteran Chad Greenway and eventually replace him. However, Brothers could be short on the athletic skill set to start in the NFL. It wouldn’t surprise me if he emerges more as a solid backup linebacker who also contributes on special teams.

Walt’s 2016 NFL Draft Grades:

23. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss B+ Grade
I’m giving all of these receiver picks a B+. Forgive me for being boring in this stretch, but they all make sense. Laquon Treadwell was seen as the No. 1 player on some boards, but the receivers were all ranked evenly heading into the 2016 NFL Draft. It was just a matter of what teams were looking for. The Texans, for example, wanted a speed guy to complement DeAndre Hopkins. The Vikings, on the other hand, wanted a possession receiver. Treadwell is definitely that, as seen by his 4.64 40 time, but he’s still a very good player and well worth the 23rd pick in the draft.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

54. Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson A+ Grade
Wow, what a steal. Mackensie Alexander would’ve been a first-round pick if he didn’t have the sort of character concerns that Tony Pauline reported about a week ago. Alexander doesn’t fill an immediate need, but he was just way too talented to pass up. Also, it should be noted that the Vikings will have some corners hitting free agency after 2016, so Alexander could step in and start in 2017.

121. Willie Beavers, OT, Western Michigan B Grade
This pick makes sense all around. Willie Beavers was projected as a fourth-round prospect. The Vikings had to add another tackle in the wake of speculation that they’d be releasing one of their tackles sometime in the near future.

160. Kentrell Brothers, LB, Missouri B+ Grade
Most believed Kentrell Brothers would be picked much earlier than this, perhaps in the third round. I believed the same at one point, but he tested poorly at the Combine. It’s understandable why Brothers dropped, but the Vikings are getting great value with him, as he played very well for Missouri. He’ll fill a need with Chad Greenway set to retire soon.

180. Moritz Boehringer, WR, Germany B+ Grade
You’ve all heard the story by now – and it seems like the pick happened days ago, as the NFL still hasn’t figured out how to put the NFL Draft on TV – but Mortiz Boehringer began playing football when he was 17 and put together an all-world workout prior to the draft. Boehringer still has to learn the game, but no one can teach his athleticism. He could be an impact player down the road, thanks to his potential.

188. David Morgan, TE, Texas-San Antonio B Grade
David Morgan was probably going to be a high-priority UDFA prior to the Combine, thanks to his blocking ability. However, Morgan thrived at the Combine, showing off some surprising athleticism. He should be able to carve out some role in Minnesota’s offense at some point.

227. Stephen Weatherly, DE, Vanderbilt A- Grade
I expected the Vikings to draft a defensive lineman earlier than this. I guess it’s better late than never, especially when a solid value in the seventh round is obtained. Stephen Weatherly, who is a superb athlete, could have easily been chosen in the fifth frame. He dropped because he didn’t have the greatest tape at Vanderbilt, but he possesses a ton of upside that can’t be ignored.

244. Jayron Kearse, S, Clemson B- Grade
Teams had very unflattering things to say about Jayron Kearse throughout the draft process. We had him in the Round 3-4 range to start, but steadily moved him down each week. It’s not shocking to see him picked in the seventh frame, though he’s just basically a body-builder and not a real football player. He’s a poor athlete overall, and it’s hard to imagine him sticking in the NFL. Still, Minnesota is buying low, so I don’t hate the pick.

2016 NFL Draft Team Grade: B . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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