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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Floyd’s uncertain future pushes defensive tackle to top of Vikings’ draft needs

By Matthew Coller

With Sharrif Floyd in the lineup, the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive line is a nightmare for opposing teams.

He is an all-situations powerhouse who can blow up plays in the backfield, especially when lined up alongside Linval Joseph. He also helps highlight the talents of edge rushers Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter by either requiring two blockers or having the ability to win1-on-1 battles with guards.

When Floyd was out of the lineup for 15 weeks last season, opponents took advantage of backup Shamar Stephen, especially in the run game, so the Vikings went into this offseason hoping their former first-round pick’s knee would recover and their D-line would be back in tact.

However, with a USA Today report coming Thursday suggesting Floyd’s injury could be career threatening, the odds seem low that the Vikings will be getting their young, talented three-technique back anytime soon.

Report: Vikings DT Sharrif Floyd’s career may be in jeopardy due to knee injury

That could force GM Rick Spielman and the front office to make defensive tackle their top priority with their first pick, No. 48 overall in the draft.

In free agency, the Vikings signed Datone Jones, who has mostly been a reserve defensive lineman and outside linebacker for the Green Bay Packers. His presence provides depth, but isn’t likely to resolve the possible opening created by Floyd’s injury.

As you might expect, there aren’t many starting defensive tackles remaining in free agency, especially when it comes to players who can rush the passer, unless the Vikings have interest in Sen’derrick Marks, whose play has dropped off since a terrific 8.5-sack 2014 season.

The good news for the Vikings is that this year’s draft is said to be filled with quality defensive linemen.

Last week, the Vikings met with a defensive tackle who has been tabbed as a likely second-round pick, Michigan State’s Malik McDowell. He is a tall, explosive pass rusher who can play both three-technique defensive tackle or defensive end.

McDowell has been rated by some as a first-round talent, but there are some concerns about his dedication which may cause him to drop.

His NFL.com Draft Profile includes this note:

“He has a chance to be a dominant player in our league. I mean dominant. It hasn’t turned on for him all the way yet but if it does, he could be like Mario Williams. He’s just a little lazy and I worry about whether he is going to be a self-starter.” — NFC North area scout

CBS Sports’s draft analysts have five defensive tackles with second-round grades (Click names for more details):

43 *Caleb Brantley DT 3 Florida rJr 6-3 307 2
56 Larry Ogunjobi DT 4 Charlotte rSr 6-3 305 2
65 Chris Wormley DT 5 Michigan rSr 6-5 298 2-3
79 Dalvin Tomlinson DT 6 Alabama rSr 6-3 310 2-3
81 Montravius Adams DT 7 Auburn Sr 6-4 304 2-3

Another intriguing player might be DeMarcus Walker from Florida State, who has been called a “tweener,” which means he isn’t quite a defensive end or defensive tackle. However, he racked up 16.0 sacks last year and 9.0 in his junior year as a Seminole. Walker is also considered a second-rounder.

Despite plenty of options in the draft, Floyd’s injury puts the Vikings on far less solid ground up front. Especially when picking a player in the second round, there are major risks involved with asking a draft pick to fix an immediate need (See: Treadwell, Laquon). Last season, four defensive tackles were taken in the first round and none of them had significant impacts on their team.

The other issue with taking a defensive tackle high is that it might mean passing on impact players at other positions like running back or tight end, both of which reportedly have deep talent pools.

The post Floyd’s uncertain future pushes defensive tackle to top of Vikings’ draft needs appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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