Vikings No. 3 pick: DT Christian Ballard, Iowa

Posted April 30, 2011 @ 2:26 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

The Vikings have taken a risky but talented defensive lineman in Round Four for the second year in a row. A year after drafting DE Everson Griffen, who was arrested twice this offseason, the Vikings went with Iowa DT Christian Ballard, who tested positive for marijuana at the Combine and didn't always play to his terrific natural ability. Here is the scouting report from PFW's Nolan Nawrocki, as written in the 2011 Draft Preview book:

Notes: Also earned letters in basketball (two) and track and field (four) as a Kansas prep. As a true freshman in 2007, saw action in 10 games and recorded 16 tackles, four for loss and 2½ sacks. Started all 13 games at left defensive end in '08, producing 40-3½-1½ with one pass batted down, one forced fumble and a blocked field-goal attempt. In '09, moved inside and notched 54-9-5½ in 13 starts.  Started all 13 games in '10 - eight at end and five at tackle - and notched 43-5-3 with two batted passes and a forced fumble. Elected not to bench at the Combine.

Positives: Has long arms and large hands. Athletic, flexible mover. Outstanding foot speed. Explosive short-area burst. Flashes disruptive ability — can shoot gaps and work edges. Outstanding speed and lateral pursuit — ranges to make plays. Redirects and flattens down the line. Hits with thump. Has versatility to play inside or outside. Intriguing measurables and upside. Flashed big-time ability in one-on-one drills at the Senior Bowl — can bend, strike and run and was difficult to block.

Negatives: Lacks sheer mass, needs to improve upper-body strength and is not stout at the point. Inconsistent and has underachiever traits. Too often disappears. Does not have a defensive demeanor or show any nasty in his play. Takes plays off and does not breathe fire. Instincts are lacking. Late to feel pressure. Underdeveloped pass rusher. Plays short-armed and needs to refine hand use - does not rip off blocks. Inconsistent pad level. Gives ground against double-teams. Can protect his legs better. Ordinary production despite playing on a talented defensive line.

Summary: Raw, versatile, athletic, light-footed big man with athletic ability that cannot be taught. Possesses the speed and quickness to thrive as a three-technique in a one-gapping, 4-3 scheme, but the light has yet to come on and inconsistent motor, head-scratching production and deficient instincts are worrisome. Could be a better pro than college player if he dedicates himself and learns how to unleash the power in his body. Loaded with upside.

NFL projection: Second- to third-round pick.