The East-West Shrine Game has consistently been the place to find under-the-radar talents to build strong rosters in the middle rounds of the draft. This year, it was the defense that provided the standouts, particularly along the defensive line. Granted, the Vikings are strong defensively, and need drastic help on the offensive line. Worry not; an offensive line-centric piece will be coming shortly. This piece is about those mid-round players that can be key depth pieces or even surprise starters moving forward. Without further ado, here are six names from the East-West Shrine Game who could be in the Vikings’ sights.
LB B.J. Blunt, McNeese State
Blunt is the type of linebacker that is becoming more coveted in today’s NFL. A former safety, Blunt is a little undersized, but also has the range and coverage ability that is now a necessity for the position. He is a supreme athlete who stuffed the stat sheet in college, and could be an eventual replacement for Anthony Barr, should the Vikings go another direction in free agency.
WR Terry Godwin, Georgia
Godwin was the Offensive MVP of the East-West Shrine Game. He is a bit undersized at just 5-foot-11, but he showed both in practice and on game day this week that he has the route-running and physicality necessary to make plays a the next level. More encouraging for his draft stock is the fact that he consistently made plays down the field both out of the slot and on the edge, including a pair of touchdown receptions.
Edge Jordan Brailford, Oklahoma State
No pass rusher jumped off the screen on Saturday like Brailford. He was everywhere, making plays left and right and showing NFL-caliber pass rush moves. The spin move shown below was especially reminiscent of a prime Dwight Freeney. Defensive end is not quite as big of a need as tackle for the Vikings, but going four deep with pass rushers is never a bad thing, especially with someone like Brailford who seems to have a high ceiling.
LB/Edge Justin Hollins, Oregon
With his length and relatively lanky frame, Hollins may be better suited as a 3-4 pass rushing linebacker. He was a stand-up pass rusher most of the time at Oregon. That said, Danielle Hunter had a similar frame coming out of LSU, and he has bulked up enough to become an All-Pro 4-3 end. Plus, Hollins found a lot of success Saturday with inside rushes, including the lightning quick setup move in the clip below. Even if he ends up as a off-ball linebacker in the NFL, his pursuit and play recognition appear strong enough to succeed in all manner of circumstances. He finished with three tackles for loss, including a pair of sacks, and was named Defensive MVP for the Shrine Game.
DL Daniel Wise, Kansas
By all accounts, Wise was the best defensive player on the field at Shrine Week practice. Described as “unblockable” by those in attendance, Wise showed off NFL-caliber technique, particularly with his burst off the line and his hand usage. His get-off is low and quick, and he disengages hands as well as anyone on the field this week. In many ways, he is the prototypical disruptive three-technique many NFL teams are looking for.
DT Daylon Mack, Texas A&M
Mack’s measurements point to him being a nose at the next level, but he has plenty of experience as an over-sized end, as well. Mack has the necessary explosion to succeed at the next level, and his low center of gravity should give him an advantage. He also has strong punch and hand-fighting abilities. At times, Mack struggles with inconsistent technique, but the raw ability is certainly there in spades.
–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.
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