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Which boom-or-bust draft targets could intrigue the Vikings?



On Thursday night the Minnesota Vikings enter the NFL Draft with needs all over the field and opportunities to land game-changing players with the 22nd and 25th overall selections. Of the talented group of prospects exists a number of boom-or-bust players who have a chance to become stars and shape the team’s future but also have a higher chance of falling well short of their potential for one reason or another. Let’s have a look at those boom-or-bust prospects who could be on their radar…

K’Lavon Chaisson, DE, LSU

Why he’s intriguing: 

An LSU defensive end with high upside? Where have we heard that before? Chaisson is a remarkable athlete with the combination of strength/power and quickness that is shared by many of the best pass rushers in the NFL. While he did not have much experience heading into the 2019 season, Chaisson kept getting better. Under D-line coach Andre Patterson, he would have the potential to grow quickly. NFL.com wrote that he has the potential to be a top-notch rusher: “Chaisson’s stock has gained momentum with his surging performance matching the elite athletic qualities. It adds up to an increasingly confident projection as an impact pass-rusher with Pro-Bowl potential.”

Why he’s boom or bust: 

Chaisson’s lack of production or even experience, for that matter. In his first two years with the Tigers, he only saw 146 total pass rush snaps per Pro Football Focus and had three sacks. Last year as a full time player he ended the year with 6.5 sacks and pressures on less than 10% of snaps.

Earlier this offseason Everson Griffen announced that he wouldn’t be returning to Minnesota, which opens the door to select an edge rusher in the first round. Whether the Vikings are willing to select someone in the first round at that position with more tools than numbers as they did with Danielle Hunter in 2015 is questionable, even if his ceiling is very high.

Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

Why he’s intriguing: 

You won’t find many receivers in the draft who Mims’s explosiveness. He put on a show at the NFL Combine, running a 4.38 40-yard dash combined with a 38-inch vertical. Overall the website Relative Athletic Scores, which places values on players’ size and Combine performance, gave Mims and 9.76 out of 10 score. Unlike some other boom-or-bust prospects, he isn’t lacking in experience with three years of 50 or more receptions.

Why he’s boom or bust: 

Mims may be experienced but PFF’s draft guide notes that he is lacking “polish” and NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein wrote: “If the route work and intensity catch up with his natural athletic ability, he could become a dangerous ‘Z’ receiver in a vertical offense, but the floor might be lower than some teams are comfortable with.”

Some of his underlying numbers are also somewhat concerning. He ranked 53rd in the country in deep receptions, dropped seven passes and never lined up in the slot, making him a one-position receiver.

The Vikings are looking for another deep threat with Stefon Diggs dealt to Buffalo. Mims has the potential to rack up contested catches on the outside if he’s a hit. If not, the pressure will rest on Adam Thielen.

Austin Jackson, OT, USC

Why he’s intriguing: 

At 6-foot-4, 322 pounds, Jackson ran a 40-yard dash in the 88th percentile of offensive linemen and registered a 96th percentile broad jump. The only tackles with better Relative Athletic Scores were Tristan Wirfs, Mekhi Becton and Ezra Cleveland. His rare traits give the two-year starter a chance to become a special player if developed properly.

Why he’s boom or bust: 

NFL.com wrote of Jackson: “He could become an early starter but may offer a wider split between floor and ceiling than some teams might like.”

Jackson didn’t take the step forward last season that was expected after a solid sophomore season, ranking 36th and 31st in PFF grade among NCAA tackles. He only gave up 14 pressures in 590 pass snaps but struggled against top competition and did not excel in run blocking.

Jackson’s athleticism gives him a chance to play guard before moving out to tackle if the Vikings are looking for someone to start right away and develop at the same time. They should be looking down the road at the tackle position with Riley Reiff still under contract.

Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado

Why he’s intriguing: 

A human highlight reel, Shenault put up 143 catches in less than 1,000 snaps over the last two seasons and broke 44 tackles, per PFF. Colorado found ways to put the ball in his hands in numerous ways, including running out of the wildcat formation at the goal line. Shenault could be an instant impact player in a role similar to that of Deebo Samuel with the 49ers last season.

Why he’s boom or bust: 

Injuries, injuries, injuries. Over the past two years he’s been riddled with health issues, including aggravating a groin problem at the NFL Combine. Shenault also has been used in a quick passing game but isn’t as developed in route running as some other top receivers.

Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU

Ross Blacklock is an explosive athlete who could be the interior pass rusher the Vikings need. Photo via USA Today

Why he’s intriguing: 

At the Combine, Blacklock impressed with a 4.9 40-yard dash at 290 pounds. The TCU defensive tackle with a basketball background has movement skills that are unusual for someone his size. With Michael Pierce locked into the nose tackle position, the Vikings could use a Sheldon Richardson type to provide interior pass rush the way in which they once hoped Sharrif Floyd would contribute.

Why he’s boom or bust: 

Blacklock only came away from last season with 30 pressures on 323 pass rush snaps and PFF’s draft guide points out that his pressure rate was boosted by stunts. He will need plenty of development to become a more technically sound player, which makes him more challenging to project from college to the NFL.

Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia 

Why he’s intriguing: 

Wilson is absolutely massive at 6-foot-6, 350 pounds and his performance against SEC competition was terrific, giving up just six hurries, two QB hits and one sack in 358 pass blocking snaps, per PFF. For someone his size, Wilson still performed admirably at the Combine in his 40 time and broad jump.

Why he’s boom or bust: 

He did not perform as well in quickness drills like the 3-cone drill and there’s concern that he faced an easier set of rushers with fellow Georgia tackle Andrew Thomas handling the top players. For someone his size, Wilson might not be agile enough to handle speed rushers or balanced enough to take on bull rushes. If the Vikings want a player who can sit for the first year, Wilson might be their guy but some of the quickness red flags might not fit with their system.

Terrell Lewis, DE, Alabama 

Terrell Lewis is an edge rusher with a high ceiling but injuries make him a difficult player to project. Photo: USA Today

Why he’s intriguing: 

When Lewis was on the field, he made a serious impact for the Crimson Tide, picking up quarterback pressures on nearly 20% of pass rush snaps. At 6-foot-5 and with a wing span that you’d normally expect from an offensive tackle, the 262-pound pass rusher showed his tremendous explosiveness at the NFL Combine with an impressive 37-inch vertical and 124-inch broad jump. He’s as close to a Danielle Hunter clone in those areas as it gets. Lewis’s ceiling could be that of a double-digit sack D-end.

Why he’s boom or bust: 

Lewis has barely played college football. Because of major injuries he was on the field for less than 700 snaps at ‘Bama. That means very little experience matching up with NFL-caliber competition in college, which points to a longer road of development if he can stay healthy. There’s a decent chance Lewis falls in the draft, opening the door to garnering Day 2 interest from the Vikings.

Grant Delpit, S, LSU

Why he’s intriguing: 

Delpit has a case for having the highest ceiling of any cover safety in the draft. He can handle bigger tight ends or receivers, playing regularly as a deep safety, box safety and slot corner at 6-foot-3.

Why he’s boom or bust: 

He was one of the class’s leaders in missed tackles and while he played through an injury in 2019 his play dipped from a very strong 2018 performance that put him on the map.

Noah Igbioghene, CB, Auburn

Why he’s intriguing: 

In two years against top teams, he gave up 51 receptions on 130 targets per PFF and showed the athletic ability to run with any of the fastest receivers and his physical play at the line of scrimmage make him ideal for the NFL game.

Why he’s boom or bust: 

Ball skills are difficult to teach and it Igbioghene does not have them. He picked off just one pass in his college career and ranked 60th in PFF’s forced incompletions stat. Still we have seen project players like him thrive under Zimmer.





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Previous Story Zulgad: Vikings’ draft strategy will answer many questions about franchise’s direction Next Story Are the Vikings out of the sweepstakes for Washington’s Pro Bowl tackle?