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Stars don’t align: Looking back at high school recruiting projections of current Vikings

By Andrew Krammer

Paul DePodesta helped find a new method of fielding a successful baseball team, and something immediately struck him upon diving into the NFL world.

Speaking on ESPN’s Dan Le Batard Show last month, DePodesta, an ex-baseball executive hired as chief strategy officer for the Cleveland Browns, said he was surprised by the number of undrafted NFL players that turn into difference makers compared to baseball. DePodesta noted the minor leagues as a grinding crawl for unheralded MLBers to climb, as opposed to the NFL where higher injury rates combine with fewer games and intense pressure to create constant opportunity. But overall, his remarks highlight what rings true for all sports — projections aren’t guarantees.

Recruiting classes around the country are lauded this Wednesday on National Signing Day as the top football programs bring in four- and five-star high school prospects. Seeing as how there’s an Aaron Curry or Troy Williamson in nearly every NFL Draft, projecting the futures of even lesser-developed players makes the high school recruiting ranks even more clouded. It’s an inexact science, but often a coming of age point in the lives of promising young athletes, as Vikings receiver Jarius Wright reminded today by sharing a photo of a framed newspaper from his signing day.

Like Williamson, Wright was a four-star prospect by the recruiting site Wright went on to set Arkansas’ school record in receptions and receiving yards before the Vikings drafted him in the fourth round of 2012. He signed a four-year extension in September. Tyrus Thompson was also a four-star recruit, starting 29 games at tackle for Oklahoma before he fell to the sixth round and off the Vikings’ roster this summer. These stars will never align.

So why not take a look back at how the Vikings’ current roster looked coming out of high school. As DePodesta noted, many NFL contributors aren’t heralded in college, therefore they likely weren’t in high school. There’s little information readily available for players like cornerback Marcus Sherels or receiver Charles Johnson, and many players also predate the modern recruiting machine. You’ll also catch some players recruited at different positions than they currently hold.

Five-star recruits (Stars by, excerpts by

RB Adrian Peterson / Palestine, TX / Oklahoma

Recruiting excerpt: “When I watched his senior film, he reminded me of former Sealy All-American Eric Dickerson. He runs with good body lean, shows remarkable agility, balance and, of course, blazing speed. Another thing I liked about Adrian on film is that he is very tough, always finishes his run and tries to make the defenders pay. As a junior Adrian carried the ball 246 times for 2,057 yards and 22 TDs averaging 8.8 yds per carry. The nation’s top running back has the look of a Heisman candidate.

OT Matt Kalil / Anaheim, CA / Southern California

Recruiting excerpt: “While Matt is the younger brother, it is easy to see that he got the best of the family’s height gene. One of the few knocks on Ryan’s game is his size, but that is not an issue with Matt. He has an ideal frame for the position and while he needs to add serious bulk, he more than has the build to do that with time. The strength of Matt’s game at this point is his pass blocking. He displays the ability to kick back, stay square and protect the inside lane…He tends to play a little taller in the run game. He does a solid job of working up to the second level and getting a piece of moving targets.”

TE Kyle Rudolph / Cincinnati, OH / Notre Dame

Recruiting excerpt: “Possesses all the tools to create serious mismatches in the passing game due to his impressive frame. Defensive coordinators will have their hands full when he releases inside on linebackers or splits out on secondary players in the red zone. He is very athletic and coordinated for his height — shows good body control and looks real comfortable in the passing game… Needs consistency on drive blocks. With his tall frame, he sometimes struggles establishing a wide base and winning the leverage battle.”

WR Stefon Diggs / Olney, MD / Maryland

Recruiting excerpt: “Diggs is a very impressive, yet raw athlete that doubles as a wide receiver and running back. He possesses very good size, a thick build and some natural strength. He is a glider with quick feet and a physical nature…There is no questioning Diggs’ athleticism–he is impressive in this regard, but we still feel his best football is ahead of him because he has yet to fully integrate the little nuances of playing WR into his game. With further refinement he could be a great one.”

DT Sharrif Floyd / Philadelphia, PA / Florida

Recruiting excerpt: “Floyd is a big kid who plays on both sides of the ball in high school. He is one of those kids who actually looks a little bigger bulk wise on film then what he is listed at. He is a solid guard prospect and we would not be surprised to see him get some looks at that position. He is active enough on defense, we believe he will play there in college. If that does not work out, he could always move to guard. He has a solid get-off and can be tough to move off the ball.”

DE Everson Griffen / Avondale, AZ / Southern California

Recruiting excerpt: “Griffen is an athletic prospect who could be considered for several positions at the college level. As a defensive prospect, he could very well continue to develop physically into a one-gap penetrating defensive tackle; right now he plays defensive end…Watching him run, you feel he can be a presence off the edge, though it does not really show on film. He has a tendency to get chest to chest with blockers and get into a wrestling contest.”

Four-star recruits

S Robert Blanton / Charlotte, N.C. / Notre Dame

Recruiting excerpt: “Blanton is a good athlete who seems to consistently be around the football making plays. We project the full-time transition to safety at the next level, where his coverage and run-stopping skills will be best utilized. He has an athletic frame with a long stride that allows him to cover the deep zone with range…However, his hands are an area that need improvement — on occasion he drops easy interceptions because of poor concentration.”

QB Teddy Bridgewater / Miami, FL / Louisville

Recruiting excerpt: “Bridgewater is one of the more intriguing dual-threat quarterbacks in the 2011 class. He is tall, ultra athletic and makes a ton of plays with both his arm and legs. If he does not remain at QB, he could easily be a force at wide receiver as he is that good of an athlete. What makes Bridgewater unique is that conventional wisdom would tell you that fundamentally and mechanically Bridgewater should be erratic and inconsistent with his accuracy and overall production, but actually he is far from it. He possesses a very good arm, maybe not elite in terms of consistent velocity, but he can make all the necessary throws when his feet are set.”

ATH Anthony Barr / Torrance, CA / California-Los Angeles

Recruiting excerpt: “Its hard not to come away impressed with what you see from Barr on film. He has a supreme blend of size, speed and athleticism. When watching him run, pick and dart his way through the initial traffic — you forget he’s 6-foot-4 and 230-pounds. As a running back, he will press the hole at full speed, but has the rare ability at his size to decisively hit the cut-back lane and cut laterally without gearing down much. Displays very good body control and hip fluidity for his size…Despite seldom giving defenders a clean shot with his smooth hips, durability is a concern if he remains as a running back at the next level.”

DE Justin Trattou / Ramsey, N.J. / Florida

Recruiting excerpt: “Trattou brings a nice combination of ability, technique and effort to the table. He has good size to play end at the college level. He gets off on the snap of the ball well. He does a nice job of using his hands. He generates power from the hips and can get push…He has good movement in his hips and can use the quick swim to defeat blockers. Trattou has the tools to be a productive and disruptive player at the college level.”

DE T.J. Clemmings / Paterson, N.J. / Pittsburgh

Recruiting excerpt: “On film, the first thing that catches your attention about Clemmings is his size and size potential. This is a kid with good height and bulk, but looks to have the frame to keep getting bigger. He is listed as a defensive end, but it is hard to imagine he will not grow more into the defensive tackle role…At times, he can be a step late off the ball and get tall. Despite his size and displayed strength, he can be pushed back. Does a good job of playing half-a-man and being able to get into the gap. He is a solid wrap-up tackler.”

DE Danielle Hunter / Katy, TX / Louisiana State

Recruiting excerpt: “The methods and even at times the results aren’t pretty with Hunter but this is an active and violent player. This is a kid who looks to have good length and comes across as a bit lean and will need to work to add more good size to his frame. He has a solid get-off and needs to work to get moving with the snap of the ball a little quicker as he can be just a beat later than you would like…He runs well and can cover ground and displays the ability to take good angles in pursuit. He could be a productive pass rusher if can get off the ball little quicker and be more efficient with his hands and have a plan.”

Three-star recruits

WR Xavier Rhodes / Miami, FL / Florida State

Recruiting excerpt: “Rhodes is a good-looking possession receiver with great hands and an equally impressive frame. He is tall, well-built and does a good job using his large frame as a route runner and after the catch. Runs precise routes. Is conscious of his steps and soundly reads coverages…While he tends to build good speed in the second level he lacks great initial burst and acceleration. A kid who would be a top-tier receiver with a bit more speed and explosiveness.”

LB Terrance Plummer / Orange Park, FL / Central Florida

Recruiting excerpt: “Plummer is a very active player against the run; has the instincts to diagnose quickly, meeting ball in the hole or for a loss in the backfield. Has the size and athleticism for the outside linebacker position at the major level of competition…Whether a red shirt year is needed will probably determine how soon Plummer sees valuable playing time. Regardless, at some point this player will make his presence known on the field.”

OL Jeremiah Sirles / Denver, CO / Nebraska

Recruiting excerpt: “Sirles has potential to be a very good offensive tackle. Looks the part at 6 foot eight and two hundred seventy pounds but will have to improve his flexibility by the time he arrives on a college campus. Has power as a drive blocker but will have to play much lower to move bigger defenders off the ball…Sirles is a big, good looking player that has to work on all aspects of becoming more athletic. If he gets more flexible and agile he can be a very productive player.”

OT/DT Linval Joseph / Alachua, FL / East Carolina

Recruiting excerpt: N/A

LB Eric Kendricks / Fresno, CA / California-Los Angeles

Recruiting excerpt: “Kendrick is an active and mobile outside linebacker that keeps excellent leverage on the football. He has good size and a nice frame to build on in terms of strength. A physical player that makes solid hits and drives his legs on contact. Slips by blockers in the box to close on the ball carrier…Appears to have football savvy and reactions. Shows the ability to be a sound hook to curl pass defender. Breaks quickly on underneath routes and flare passes. Displays very good balance and body control when redirecting on the blitz.”

K Blair Walsh / Fort Lauderdale, FL / Georgia

Recruiting excerpt: “He has bone crushing leg strength at times and is capable, when his mechanics are correct, of making 55+ yard field goals on a consistent basis if needed. Walsh is not overly polished right now and really attacks the ball with force…Approaches the ball quickly and the ball jumps off his foot with power, but he also gets inconsistent height from time-to-time. He is never in danger of getting kicks blocked and understands timing.”

Two-star recruits

QB Audie Cole / Monroe, MI / North Carolina State

Recruiting excerpt: “Cole has very good size and is a good athlete for the position as far as pocket passers go. He shows good foot speed and is a much better runner than you would think by just looking at him on the hoof. He plays in a conservative, run-oriented attack that features a lot of misdirection and mostly play-action passes. He does not get the opportunities in the passing game that other quarterbacks have. Arm strength is average and he has a long, wind-up release. Not sure he has the arm to push the ball downfield with power.”

WR Mike Wallace / New Orleans, LA / Ole Miss

Recruiting excerpt: N/A

S Trae Waynes / Kenosha, WI / Michigan State

Recruiting excerpt: “Waynes needs to polish up his pass coverage skills but we feel this guy has a lot of physical tools and is currently falling under the radar. Tall with good height and length but needs to fill out and continue adding strength…Bottom line, Waynes has some weaker areas that may be exploited at the major college level but we like his physical upside on his long frame, ability to cover the field and overall ball-hawk skills.”

CB Captain Munnerlyn / Mobile, AL / South Carolina

Recruiting excerpt: N/A

The post Stars don’t align: Looking back at high school recruiting projections of current Vikings appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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