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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Draft preview: Even with Griffin addition, Vikings could bolster safety

By Andrew Krammer

MINNEAPOLIS — How much of a priority is an upgrade at safety for the Vikings?

That’s one question that will be answered this week. The Vikings have shuffled the deck next to Harrison Smith throughout his four seasons as he’s started next to a different teammate in each of his Week 1 openers. The most recent was Andrew Sendejo, who re-signed last month on a four-year deal worth up to $16 million, guaranteeing him $4 million just weeks after head coach Mike Zimmer said this: “If Harrison Smith was paired with a guy that had some other qualities, we could allow Harrison to be more of an impactful player.”

They weren’t wholly content, adding nine-year veteran Michael Griffin in free agency while poking around some of the draft’s safety prospects.

Let’s assess why safety checks in as my No. 4 need for the Vikings.

No. 5: Vikings may add to ‘important’ spot on defensive line

Depth chart

S Harrison Smith, 27
S Andrew Sendejo, 28
S Michael Griffin, 31
S Anthony Harris, 24
S Antone Exum Jr., 25
S John Lowdermilk, 24

Situation

Outside of adding 31-year-old Griffin and letting Robert Blanton’s contract expire, the Vikings kept this position intact. They believe they have a cornerstone in Smith, who the team wants to re-sign to a contract extension as he enters the final year on his deal. While the Vikings’ fifth-ranked scoring defense did not have an All-Pro last season, Smith’s eight votes trailed only Adrian Peterson on the team. And, according to Zimmer, they’d like to get more out of him by improving the adjacent play after Sendejo started 13 games. That could come from within as coaches have spoken highly about second-year safety Anthony Harris, who had two pass deflections in two starts last season. Third-year safety Antone Exum Jr. also made his first two starts last season before injuring his ribs and shoulder. Though they’re looking around. Among their 30 official pre-draft visits were at least two safeties in West Virginia’s K.J. Dillon and Clemson’s T.J. Green. Since Zimmer was hired, the Vikings’ only draft commitments at safety have been Exum Jr. (sixth-round pick) and Harris (UDFA). They could use another young talent in the secondary.

Below are three players the Vikings could add after the first round.

Three to watch

1. S Karl Joseph, West Virginia (6-0, 210)

Though the Vikings brought in his teammate, K.J. Dillon, Joseph intrigues as a possible first-round talent who could fall. Missed half of his senior season with a torn ACL. Was leading the FBS with five interceptions in four games before the injury. Credited with 16 tackles for a loss and nine picks as a four-year starter at West Virginia. The Vikings would have to decide if his upside and fit is worth the risk of a recovering knee.

2. S T.J. Green, Clemson (6-2, 209)

What ‘other qualities’ could the Vikings be looking for at safety? Perhaps a fast and skilled cover player, which Green could become in the NFL. He was the fastest safety at the combine (4.34). A former receiver (and kickoff returner) who moved to safety two years ago. Has the speed and size, though concerns revolve around his inexperience. A one-year starter with three pass deflections and one career interception.

3. DB Sean Davis, Maryland (6-1, 201)

A safety and cornerback for the Terrapins who could be moved back to safety in the NFL. Versatility and his combine performances might make him coveted. Has 4.46 speed and the strength (led all corners with 21 bench reps) and size (31 3/8? arms) to suggest he can contribute right away. Moved to cornerback last year and was named honorable mention All-Big Ten after three interceptions and five forced fumbles. Though scouting reports claim his coverage play needs a healthy dose of coaching. As with Green, the Vikings may feel they have the staff for the job.

The post Draft preview: Even with Griffin addition, Vikings could bolster safety appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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