Vikings WR interest has heard Moss comparison

Aaron Dobson is tall, fast and is a receiver from Marshall University. Sound familiar? It should, and even if the comparisons are overstated, the Vikings have shown interest.

Aaron Dobson isn't Randy Moss, but he's been hearing the comparisons since his sophomore year in high school.

Moss was faster, a little more athletic and much brasher. Still, the comparisons are only natural. Both were productive receivers at Marshall University – Moss much more so – with height to concern cornerbacks on the sideline and speed to make safeties nervous.

"There's been comparisons, always. When I was in high school, my sophomore year was probably the first time I got compared to him. It was fun. Definitely I was excited because Moss is a great athlete, has great athletic ability," Dobson said after a practice at the Senior Bowl this week. "I do have athletic ability. I can run and take the top off the defense, so it was exciting back then getting recognized and compared to him.

"Just my running ability and taking the top off the defense, that's probably the main two (comparisons) that stick out."

And the Vikings' interest.

In 1998, the Vikings selected Moss 21st overall after he had 90 receptions for 1,647 yards and 25 touchdowns in his final season at Marshall. This week, Dobson met with Vikings receivers coach George Stewart in Mobile, Ala. as part of his predraft process.

"It was good. I enjoyed the receivers coach," Dobson said. "We definitely had a great talk. It was definitely a good thing. He is a good guy."

But before we get carried away with the comparisons to Moss, Dobson has been productive at Marshall but experienced nowhere near the success of Moss, who had 145 catches for 2,720 yards and 44 touchdowns in two seasons with the Thundering Herd.

Dobson had a career-high 57 catches for 679 yards and three touchdowns in 2012, and 49 receptions for 668 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior. Over his four-year career, he had 165 catches for 2,398 yards and 24 touchdowns.

Moss fell to the Vikings with the 21st pick because of concerns over his character, which dogged him throughout his Hall of Fame-worthy career, but he has never been in serious trouble. It's always been more about what teams are willing to put up with from him.

Dobson doesn't have those known concerns, and he could be a late first-round or second-round consideration for teams because of his Moss-like size and speed, each of which likely fall just short of Moss in 1998. Still, Dobson is 6-foot-3 and a deep threat.

"You've just got to have a mentality. When you come out on the field, you have to have a different mindset," Dobson said. "How I think, I ain't going to let nobody just come show me up or just keep beating me up. No. In my mindset, I'm just not going to let that happen. On the field, every time somebody lines up I just want to beat him."

Despite his height, Dobson showed the ability to separate on shorter routes, run across the middle and had solid blocking skills in Mobile, too.

"Our receivers at school, we took pride in blocking. Our coach took pride in that. Our coach was like, if you ain't blocking you ain't playing. He was straight like that," Dobson said. "We always took pride in blocking. I always wanted to get the most knockdowns so we would go out and we would pick a fight with the defensive backs a lot. It was fun."

Dobson was a second-team All-Conference USA selection in 2012 after averaging 67.9 receiving yards per game. His 24 receiving touchdowns over the course of his Marshall career tied for fourth in school history, and he was ninth with 2,398 yards receiving the past four years.

He said he can "get out and run a little bit" on the football field and is hoping to run the in the low 4.4-second range for the 40-yard dash, but to date he has been about a 4.5 runner.

With receiver one of the deeper positions in the draft, Dobson's stock could vary depending on what flavor of receiver a team desires, and the addition of top-end junior receivers likely will push him past No. 20. But he seems to fit what the Vikings lack – a tall receiver with the ability to separate from defensive backs.

"We are really deep at receiver. I noticed that," he said of the draft class of 2013. "There's a lot of juniors that came out and some seniors that are really good. I'm just trying to showcase myself."

He did that pretty well this week.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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