The Vikings set a trend of taking players from the same college in the 2012 draft. Matt Kalil and Rhett Ellison played together at the USC. Harrison Smith and Robert Blanton played together at Notre Dame. But, when it came to the selection of wide receiver Greg Childs, the Vikings took the teammate thing to the next level.
Childs and fellow wide receiver draft pick Jarius Wright first met as 10-year-olds A.T. Thomas C. Brunson Elementary School and have been tight ever since – both as friends and as teammates. They have never been on different organized football teams.
"I've known J-Wright since the third grade," Childs said. "We've been cool since then. We had talked about this one day, what if went to the same NFL team? It would be crazy. We went to middle school, elementary, junior high together, high school, the same college team. Now we're moving on in life and we're still doing the same thing together."
Their progress from college to the NFL has taken very different paths. Wright established almost every career and single-season receiving record for the Razorbacks, but early on it was Childs that seem poised to be the record-setter. At 6-foot-3, 219 pounds, he was an imposing figure who emerged as a sophomore, catching 48 passes for 894 yards and seven touchdowns. He was on his way to a record-setting year in 2010. Through seven games, he had 46 catches for 659 yards and six touchdowns before tearing his right patellar tendon, a tear so severe it required surgery and months of rehab.
"It was a complete tear," Childs said. "It takes a year-and-a-half to get completely right. I came back after six or seven months, which was too soon."
He tried to return prematurely and aggravated the injury. He spent much of the last year at less than 100 percent, playing in 11 games, but starting just three and posting pedestrian numbers (21-240-0), which impacted his draft status negatively.
"It affected it a lot," Childs said. "Before I got injured, I was projected very high. There weren't too many guys that were considered a better receiver than me."
Now at 100 percent, Childs believe he can be a Day 3 draft steal. He said his speed and agility have returned and, as matchup nightmare in the red zone, he sees several positives he can bring to the Vikings offense.
"Making plays on the ball and catching the ball at its highest point," Childs said of his strengths. "I'm just a playmaker."
He believes he has work to do to make the jump and stick in the NFL, but he added that hard work is its own reward and he's willing to do whatever is necessary to win a roster spot.
"You can always work on all aspects of your game," Childs said. "You can never be too good at one spot. You always need to keep on improving and getting it done."
His biggest challenge to get back to full strength was being patient. He pushed himself too hard early and suffered a setback. He didn't play at 100 percent his entire senior season, but said it was daunting to try to get back to 100 percent."
"(The challenge was) having the time to allow my injury to completely heal," Childs said, "instead of being 70 percent still going full, just having enough time to let it heal properly and to let it continue to get stronger."
Where does he fit with the Vikings? Just about anywhere. The team will end up choosing where they believe he fits best, but Childs said he is prepared to learn the routes of every receiver position in the offense in case he's asked to step in at any of the different receiver spots.
"I lined up all over the place (at Arkansas) – inside, outside," Childs said. "In the NFL, I'm here to do it all. I can play any position. I'll play whatever position they put me at. I'm going to learn the whole playbook so I can every position. I'm just ready to get out on the field and compete."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Childs believes he can be a draft steal
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