Perhaps too often on draft day, teams get caught up in measurable numbers -- gigantic size, a fast 40 time or a huge vertical jump. Vikings sixth-round pick Mike Nattiel doesn't have the measurables that jump out at you, but he has the one quality coaches and scouts look for -- production.
"You look for players who produce in college and that is what (Nattiel) brings to the table," director of college scouting Scott Studwell told VU. "He's a little undersized, but he makes plays and does everything a Will (weakside) linebacker is asked to do."
Nattiel, the nephew of former Dolphin WR Ricky Nattiel is only 5-11 and 228 pounds -- seen as too small for a NFL linebacker. But he has faced that criticism for years and hasn't let it affect him.
"I played for four years in the SEC," Nattiel said. "I give everything I have on every play and that's what matters to me."
Because of his size limitations, the Vikings believe he is limited to playing weakside linebacker, where his athleticism and quickness can serve him better. But some other NFL teams had a different impression of his transition to the league.
"Some teams were looking at trying to turn me into a strong safety," Nattiel said. "But I see myself as a linebacker. That's what I've always played."
The Vikings see him as a linebacker who will compete for a roster spot as a special teams player and, despite his lack of ideal measurables, as a player with the heart and intensity to make the roster and contribute to the 2003 Vikings.
Nattiel Simply A Producer
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