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Bleacher Report – Vikings

10 diamond-in-the-rough skill players the Vikings could target in late rounds

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings’ top priority in the NFL Draft is clearly along the offensive line, but they could target offensive players down the draft board with hopes of finding the next Stefon Diggs.

Here are 10 skill position players who are ranked at least 100th on CBS’s board but have reason to believe they might be diamonds in the rough…(key stats via Pro Football Focus.

Miami, RB, Mark Walton

CBS Sports rank: 100

Key stat: 7.6 yards per carry

An ankle injury ended Walton’s 2017 season after just five games, but his start to the season was eye popping. The 5-foot-9 running back totaled 428 yards on just 56 runs including a 204 yard performance on just 11 carries in Week 2 against Toledo. In the bigger sample of 2016, Walton rushed for over 1,000 yards and scored 14 touchdowns.

The Vikings might appreciate his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. He caught 56 passes for 624 yards over his three years with the Hurricanes.

Penn State, WR, DaeSean Hamilton

CBS Sports rank: 111

Key stat: 73.3 percent deep catch percentage

Hamilton proved to be a versatile receiver with the ability to stretch the field (averaged 16.2 yards per catch) and line up in the slot (fifth most slot yards in the draft class). According to PFF, he caught 61 percent of contests throws in his direction. The Penn State standout might not have superstar potential but his hands and route running ability give Hamilton a chance to adapt quickly to the NFL.

Notre Dame, WR, Equanimeous St. Brown

CBS Sports rank: 122

Key stat: 4.48 40-yard dash at 6-foot-5

St. Brown’s production dropped significantly last year, but in 2016 he was terrific, catching 58 passes for 961 yards and nine touchdowns. The Notre Dame receiver has an extremely high ceiling considering his frame and speed. Whether he reaches that ceiling is questionable considering he did not perform well in areas that tall receivers are expect to perform like on deep throws and contested passes.

San Diego State, RB, Rashaad Penny

CBS Sports rank: 123

Key stat: Penny forced 80 missed tackles on the ground last season, No. 1 in the draft class.

Penny put up outrageous stats in his senior year, rushing for 2,248 yards at 7.8 yards per carry and scoring 23 touchdowns. According to PFF, no running back turned his opportunities into big plays as he led the draft class in “Breakaway Percentage.” At 220 pounds, Penny is remarkably quick. He ran a 4.46 40-yard dash.

Texas A&M, WR, Christian Kirk

CBS Sports rank: 129

Key stat: Averaged 2.51 yards per route from the slot, 7th-best in the draft class

Three straight seasons of grabbing 70 passes ore more has put Kirk on the map as an NFL prospect. He isn’t tall at 5-foot-11, but profiles as a slot receiver, catching the fourth most passes in the slot of any receiver in the draft class. Kirk can stretch the field with his 4.47 40-yard speed.

North Carolina State, RB, Nyheim Hines

CBS Sports rank: 135

Key stat: Averaged 3.8 yards per carry after contact

Hines didn’t see much of the field as a rusher in his first two years, but he was a pass catcher out of the backfield, grabbing 63 passes between 2015 and 2016 seasons. When he took over as the main back, Hines ran for over 1,000 yards and scored 12 touchdowns. One strong element of his game is pass blocking. PFF ranked him the fifth best blocker in the draft class.

Washington, WR, Dante Pettis

CBS Sports rank: 146

Key stat: Dropped only seven passes on 169 catchable targets during his four-year career.

Pettis has terrific hands, catching 63.3 percent of throws his way last year and 73.6 percent in 2016. He may not profile as a big-play threat, but he has potential to be a sound all-around receiver. Pettis also NCAA career mark with nine touchdown returns for touchdown and could be an effective special teamer.

Tennessee, RB, John Kelly

CBS Sports rank: 154

Key stat: Seventh in yards per route run

In his sophomore season, Kelly showed some potential by averaging 6.4 yards per carry. With more workload in 2017, his yards per carry dropped to 4.1 but he was effective in the passing game with 37 receptions for 299 yards. Kelly’s sporadic production makes him an interesting prospect who might project as a situational player.

Wisconsin, TE, Troy Fumagalli

CBS Sports rank: 181

Key stat: Tied for 4th among draft-eligible tight ends with 1.87 yards per route in 2017

Fumagalli is not the fastest tight end in college football, but he grabbed 45.5 percent of contested catches and only dropped 12 of 147 catchable passes over his career, according to PFF. He is a solid run blocker, which could make him an intriguing depth option with the potential to become a starter.

South Carolina, TE, Hayden Hurst

CBS Sports rank: 186

Key stat: Tied for 4th among draft-eligible tight ends with 1.87 yards per route in 2017

Hurst profiles as a mismatch tight end with great hands and the ability to make plays after the catch. He did not drop a pass in 2017 and gained 7.0 yards after the catch per reception over his three years. Hurst is a poor run blocker who could be exposed in the NFL.

The post 10 diamond-in-the-rough skill players the Vikings could target in late rounds appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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