With little production from receivers other than those considered "slot receivers" and questions about whether some of the big-bodied receivers from last year will be on the roster in 2013, the Vikings could be in the market for multiple additions at wide receiver in the coming months.
At the Senior Bowl last month, a small-school prospect from Elon in North Carolina – Aaron Mellette – intrigued onlookers and drew the interest of the Vikings. Mellette met with Vikings receivers coach George Stewart during the week of Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Ala.
Mellette said he sat and talked with Stewart and was impressed with the résumé of the receivers coach.
"Just the different guys he's coached. And he asked the different coaching styles I like as far as the position coach – hands on or hands off – and how he talked about building a relationship with the guys that he coaches and he really enjoyed that," Mellette said.
Mellette checked in at 6-foot-2½ and 216 pounds at the Senior Bowl, the second-tallest receiver at that college all-star game, and had the second-longest "wingspan" at 78-5/8 inches – both taking second to Marshall's Aaron Dobson.
Coming from Elon University, a school of about 5,000 students, he said scouts wanted to see if he could compete with prospects from bigger schools.
"They just wanted to see if I could compete against some of the faster guys with the speed of the game and would the bigger competition be too much for me," Mellette said. "I think that's really what they wanted to see and I think I demonstrated that it wasn't (too much)."
As a senior, Mellette had 97 catches for 1,398 yards and 18 touchdowns in 11 games, ranking second in the Football Championship Subdivision in receptions per game (8.9) and receiving yards per game (127.1).
The early draft projections have Mellette as a mid- to late-round value, but he said he isn't sure when he will be drafted.
"I don't feed into all that," he said. "You see the different mock drafts and different things. I don't feed into that because I don't want to see something and get discouraged and read something else and it's something totally different. My mindset is just doing whatever I've got to do all the way up to the draft and when April comes, whenever I hear my name, that's when I hear it."
Mellette said Elon was the only school with a serious offer for him coming out of high school, but he also received interest from North Carolina, Florida State, East Carolina, Virginia, Wake Forest and Marshall, among others.
He called himself a "late bloomer coming to football" and said his school splitting into two locations also contributed to Elon being the only offer for him.
"They were more about establishing a program than trying to get kids off to college. One of my coaches that came in going into my senior year sent out a bunch of tape to schools, FBS schools, FCS schools and Elon came calling," Mellette said. "They were on me from the beginning and me being a late bloomer, as people like to say, didn't really know about all the combine stuff. That was really my only choice to go to and I took it."
He said NFL scouts started to show up at Elon after a big game against Vanderbilt (and 2012 second-round cornerback Casey Hayward) in his junior season.
"I think really going on with the junior season propelled me, the way I was going out there and dominating. I think that really put me on the scene throughout the summer," he said. "Going into camp my senior year, I seen scouts each week every day at practice."
Over his Elon career, Mellette caught 304 passes for 4,254 yards and 44 touchdowns with 23 100-yard receiving games.
While he has the size, Mellette said he hopes to run the 40-yard dash in the low 4.5 range at the NFL Scouting Combine later this month, saying that would "maybe surprise people."
As for the Vikings, Devin Aromashodu is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, Michael Jenkins could be a contract casualty with a scheduled salary-cap number of $3.25 million and Stephen Burton only had five catches despite being active for 12 games.
The Vikings' biggest producers from the receiver position were the slot guys. Percy Harvin ended the season on injured reserve after 62 receptions for 677 yards and, in his absence the final seven games, Jarius Wright produced 22 catches for 310 yards.
Last year, the Vikings drafted two receivers in the fourth round, Wright and Greg Childs, a 6-foot-3 specimen that tore both patellar tendons in training camp and may not be ready to play in 2013.
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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