Vikings trade up, take safety

April 26th, 2008 – 6:28 PM by Judd Zulgad

The Vikings selected Arkansas State safety Marcellous (Tyrell) Johnson with their only pick of the opening two rounds of the draft. Minnesota liked Johnson enough that it traded with Philadelphia to move up from No. 47 to No. 43 in the second round to take him. The Vikings gave up their fourth-round pick to the Eagles and got Philadelphia’s fifth-round pick. Minnesota now has two fifth-round picks on Sunday.

Vikings coach Brad Childress said the team had Johnson ranked 17th on their draft board  — the top safety available — and called him a “solid all-around athlete.” Childress pointed to his performance in a game against Texas as a key selling point. “He had an outstanding game against a pretty good caliber Texas team,” Childress said during an evening news conference at Winter Park. “That’s what you look for.”

Johnson, whose father is former NBA player Alvin Robertson, doesn’t remember talking to the Vikings before the draft and admitted it was a surprise the team took him. “I had no idea,” the Vikings would take him, Johnson said in a conference call with Twin Cities reporters. “I’m really proud the Vikings took me and proud to be a Viking.”

Johnson, who ended his collegiate career as the all-time leading tackler in the Sun Belt Conference, thought the Giants might take him with the 31st pick in the opening round. “I thought a few teams would take a chance one me in the first round,” he said.   

The Vikings needed to add depth at safety and also get a bit younger at that position and this helps in both areas. The Vikings now have Darren Sharper and Madieu Williams as their starting safeties; Eric Frampton and veteran Michael Boulware, signed as a free agent this offseason, are the backups.

The Vikings needed to get a young safety in part because 2006 fifth-round pick Greg Blue failed to make the roster last season.

Here’s what the Pro Football Weekly draft guide had to say about Johnson: Proved he more than belongs after an impressive Combine performance — topped all safeties in teh bench press (27 reps) and broad jump (10 feet, 7 inches), and turned in a better-than-expected 40-yard dash time of 4.44 seconds. … Is still raw in coverage but could step in and start from day one as a box safety.

Check out this bio on Johnson.

And here are a couple of links on You Tube that contain highlights of Johnson in action. Click here for the first and here for the second.

Here is a look at the Vikings’ latest lineup of picks:

Second round: 43rd overall — Tyrell Johnson, S, Arkansas State

Fifth round: 150th overall and 152nd overall

Sixth round: 187th overall and 193rd overall

Seventh round: 209th overall



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