The Minnesota Vikings 15-man draft class this offseason was the biggest throughout the trendy draft period.
With so many names and prospects to trace, a number of have fallen underneath the radar, however one seventh-rounder has drawn comparisons to a Vikings fan favourite and legendary defensive finish, Brian Robinson.
Drafted 225th general, Kenny Willekes of Michigan State was thought to be the highest pass-rusher steal of the 2020 draft, in line with NFL Community’s Charles Davis:
“He performs redlining it man. He performs like Cole Trickle driving his automobile in Days of Thunder early earlier than they taught him the best way to not deplete the tires.
This child will get after it, he’s going to be so much like Brian Robinson was — the previous Viking — a seventh-round worth, a giant time man.”
The comparability hits on a number of ranges. Willekes — like Robinson — is a comparatively unknown prospect, however with top-tier athletic capacity.
And if it finally rings true, the Vikings could have discovered a significant worth within the seventh-round rookie as Robinson grew to become a rotational cross rush specialist and the franchise’s fifth all-time chief in sacks.
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A Former Stroll-On Turned Group MVP
Willekes was a walk-on at Michigan State and finally earned himself the 2019 Burlsworth Trophy, which is awarded yearly to the nation’s finest participant who was a former walk-on.
He was named the Massive 10 Defensive Lineman of the 12 months and Michigan State’s Group MVP award in his redshirt senior yr with the Spartans after he accrued 78 tackles and 10.5 sacks in 2019.
Willekes completed his profession at Michigan State with essentially the most tackles for loss (51) and ranked third in program historical past with 26 profession sacks, the bulk he racked up in his last three seasons.
Standing 6-foot-3, Willekes’ arm size has been his largest critique however as a former walk-on, Willekes is not any stranger to being underestimated and “is a traditional overachiever,” ESPN’s Mel Kiper mentioned.
“He’ll should battle his approach onto that roster,” Kiper mentioned. “I believe you have a look at a man, a traditional overachiever. He doesn’t have lengthy arms … however he has that knack for getting after the quarterback.He anticipates that snap and desires to beat that offensive deal with out of his stance, and he does it an honest quantity of occasions… He’s the form of man I wouldn’t wish to guess in opposition to as a result of he’s overcome the chances and have become a heck of a participant at Michigan State for the Spartans.”
Willekes examined within the 88th percentile for bench press, 84th percentile for his broad bounce, and above common in his 40-yeard sprint and vertical bounce amongst defensive linemen. He additionally ranked within the prime 10 at his place in most NFL Scouting Mix measurables, together with his 32 bench press reps which had been the second-best mark.
Regardless of his confirmed athleticism, Willekes, thought-about a 3rd to sixth spherical prospect, slipped to the seventh spherical as 28 defensive linemen had been chosen earlier than him.
Willekes Runs Up A Wall To Reply Doubts of His Athleticism
The Spartans had been unable to have a Professional Day resulting from coronavirus and after questions round Willekes’ athleticism circulated message boards, he put collectively a reel of him working up partitions, doing backflips and hitting splits to debunk his doubters’ claims.
“Not athletic, below-average athleticism for edge rusher”
“Bodily instruments do not bounce off the web page”
“Is not an excellent athlete”
“Has pedestrian bodily presents”
Shhhh Simply watch… pic.twitter.com/LpvLpzBu9C
— Kendrick4️⃣8️⃣ (@kennyw97) March 26, 2020
Willekes’ brother is an Olympic-level trampoline gymnast, not too long ago competing within the 2020 Olympic trials amongst 22 different gymnasts and clearly carries comparable flexibility.
And whereas these abilities could not switch to soccer, Willekes instructed Sky Spots his manufacturing “speaks for itself.”
“I can do the splits, I can run up the wall and do a back-flip, I felt like I simply wished to indicate people who facet of me. You have got all of the web trolls like ‘how does this relate to soccer?’ – it doesn’t relate to soccer however I believe my manufacturing speaks for itself,” he mentioned.
Willekes fashions his mess around versatile three-down edge gamers like Von Miller, Chandler Jones, Khalil Mack and Frank Clark. He’s set to compete for a task among the many Vikings’ defensive finish teams at coaching camp in July.