August 14, 2022

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If Vikings draft edge rusher in first spherical, it may very well be Eden Prairie’s Jermaine Johnson

In the case of the primary spherical of the NFL draft, the Vikings don’t typically look near house.

Since getting into the NFL in 1961, the Vikings have chosen only one Minnesota native within the first spherical — linebacker Jeff Seimon, who was born in Rochester in 1950. However Seimon left together with his household for California when he was 2 and didn’t return to Minnesota till 1972, when the Vikings made him the No. 10 general choice.

Defensive finish Carl Eller, a North Carolina native who starred on the College of Minnesota, is the one participant from a Minnesota faculty that the Vikings have drafted within the first spherical; he was picked No. 6 in 1964. And so they’ve by no means had a first-round choice who attended a Minnesota highschool.

However that might change. Edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II, an Eden Prairie native who starred at Eden Prairie Excessive Faculty and was the 2021 Atlantic Coast Convention Defensive Participant of the Yr at Florida State, is a candidate to be chosen with the No. 12 decide within the April 28-30 draft.

The Vikings may choose to take a cornerback, but when each Cincinnati’s Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. are off the board at No. 12, they might want to decide. Do they take one other cornerback at that spot, equivalent to Washington’s Trent McDuffie or Clemson’s Andrew Sales space Jr.? Do they commerce down and nonetheless attempt to get a kind of two gamers? Or do they choose a participant at one other place? If it’s the final choice, edge rusher is likely to be the almost definitely place.

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Edge rushers Aidan Hutchinson of Michigan and Travon Walker of Georgia will likely be lengthy passed by the Vikings’ No. 12 decide. NFL Community analyst Charles Davis mentioned there’s a slim likelihood Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux may slide right down to that spot, and the Vikings must strongly contemplate him if that occurs. However there’s a a lot better likelihood that Johnson, regarded by most analysts because the fourth-best edge rusher within the draft, may very well be obtainable.

“I watched him on the Senior Bowl, the place he competed and took part in all of the practices and took the snaps, and he received the overwhelming majority of one-on-one drills and simply had a very good week,” Davis mentioned.

On the scouting mix in Indianapolis in March, Johnson talked about wanting to finish up with the Vikings.

“I grew up a Vikings fan,” he mentioned. “I attempted to catch each recreation. That’d be superior going house. I’m accustomed to town, born and raised there. It’d be sort of full circle.”

The 6-foot-5, 262-pound Johnson is coming off a season by which he had 18 tackles for loss, together with 12 sacks. It was his solely 12 months with the Seminoles after he spent his first two faculty seasons at Independence (Kan.) Neighborhood Faculty, which was featured then within the documentary “Final Likelihood U,” after which his subsequent two seasons at Georgia.

Johnson was a rotation participant with the Bulldogs, getting 6½ sacks within the 2019 and 2020 seasons. However he actually emerged when he acquired loads of snaps at Florida State in an NCAA-allowed fifth season as a result of coronavirus pandemic.

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“It’s an incredible story,” mentioned Mike Grant, Eden Prairie Excessive’s longtime coach. “He didn’t qualify (academically) popping out highschool, so he goes down there (to Independence) and it truly is ‘Final Likelihood U.’ However he did all the suitable issues, turned it round academically, and was in a position to decide Georgia. After which he went to Florida State and labored his butt off. He’s going to go excessive within the draft, and it’s effectively deserved.”

ESPN draft analyst Jordan Reid has been impressed with Johnson’s improvement.

“He’s acquired an entire recreation,” Reid mentioned. “I believe exterior of Travon Walker, he’s the most effective run defender on this class (amongst edge rushers). I simply assume when it comes to dimension and talent, he’s acquired all you need within the place.”

Reid mentioned one downside is Johnson is 23 and turns 24 in January, and the Vikings may desire a youthful participant. And Johnson admitted on the mix that there’s a “query mark” surrounding him since he’s had simply “one 12 months of actually good manufacturing.”

Nonetheless, Johnson, in addition to the highest two cornerbacks, may very well be passed by the No. 12 decide. If that’s the case, the Vikings may flip to the following greatest edge rusher, Purdue’s George Karlaftis. Nonetheless, he doubtless may very well be snagged by buying and selling down.