Pro days mostly helping early-round defenders

A number of early-round defensive tackle and linebacker prospects had good showings at their pro days last week, but that wasn't the case with everyone. Here is what happened with some of the first- and second-day prospects on the defensive side of the ball.

The Vikings' increased draft selections with the Percy Harvin trade leaves them with two first-round picks and six choices in the first four rounds.

Much of last week was dominated by free agent signings, both with the Vikings (with Greg Jennings, Matt Cassel and their own unrestricted free agents) and around the league in general.

So far, the Vikings have re-signed six of their own free agents and have seen two of them – LB Jasper Brinkley and OL Geoff Schwartz – sign with other teams. But while the attention shifted for a week to the veterans of the league, the Vikings still had scouts out and about at college pro days as draft prospects showed off their skills for multiple teams.

Here are some of the recent performances of players of interest on the defensive side of the ball.

The Missouri pro day provided another look at defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, expected to be a first-round pick, and linebacker Zaviar Gooden, likely a Day 2 pick but someone that might not be on the radar as closely after the Vikings re-signed Erin Henderson.

Richardson was impressive. At 6-foot-2 and 294 pounds (his measurables as the NFL Scouting Combine), he ran the 40-yard dash anywhere from 4.71 to 4.82, according to reports. He called the improvement of at least two-tenths of a second "big time."

Gooden also had a good showing. He had already recorded the best time among linebackers (4.47) in the 40-yard dash at the combine, so he didn't run that, but he did register a vertical jump of 38½ inches.

Ohio State defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins wasn't as impressive the following day in the 40-yard dash. He's bigger (6-3, 320) than Richardson, but his 5.31-second time didn't help him, and his 26-inch vertical jump further hurt his assessment in the explosiveness category.

Florida's Jon Bostic (6-1, 245) had already established himself as an athletic linebacker at the combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.50. At his pro day last week, he showed good hands, according to reports, and continued to help his draft stock, currently tabbed as a second-day pick.

Perhaps the most athletic linebacker this side of Alec Ogletree is Kansas State's Arthur Brown (6-0, 241). With concerns about the health of his shoulder, he did 21 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press at his pro day, posted a 32½-inch vertical jump and ran the 40-yard dash somewhere in the 4.58- to 4.62-second range. After that impressive showing, there started to be buzz about him possibly working into the latter stages of the first round of April's draft.

At Alabama's pro day, defensive tackle Jesse Williams (6-3, 323) was one of the main prospects for Vikings fans to be concerned with, especially those looking for a defensive tackle in the first round. Williams ran the 40 in 4.9, an impressive showing for a man his size, and helping to keep his projected status in the first round.

At Rutgers, the main interest was linebacker Khaseem Greene (6-1, 241), who had all 32 NFL represented at his pro day. Greene told reporters he wanted to prove he could maintain his speed with more weight than he had during his college days, and he ran consecutive 4.61-second 40-yard dashes at his pro day, an improvement over the 4.71 he registered at the combine. Greene is expected to be a late first- or early second-round pick.

Pro days continue around the country every day this week, some of those days providing as many as a dozen colleges showing off their prospects.

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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