While winners and losers in NFL free agency are crowned, evaluation for the best roster-building tool – the NFL draft – draft continues.
The Vikings made an aggressive move in free agency, signing receiver Greg Jennings to a five-year contract that could be worth up to $9.5 million per season, but that won't stop the Vikings from an April effort to improve their receiving corps further. In Jennings, they found experience and a willingness to help young receivers – and he hinted that more of those were coming, which should be no surprise.
With that in mind, we review some of the pro days for NFL receiving prospects that have taken place over the last week.
The top prospect for Vikings fans could be Cal receiver Keenan Allen. He fits the profile for what kind of receiver the Vikings could use. He is big enough (6-foot-2, 206 pounds) and one of the most NFL-ready receivers in the draft.
The concern with Allen is a knee injury that limited his 2012 season and still wasn't ready enough for him to perform at the NFL Scouting Combine. Unfortunately, he didn't perform at Cal's pro day Thursday, either, and a decision on him likely will come down to the medical rechecks that surely will be ordered prior to the draft.
Each NFL team has the ability to perform its own medical exams at the NFL Combine and order tests. If the Vikings are interested in Allen, and they should be, you can bet they will continue to monitor his medical situation. They will have an inside track on Allen's progress, however, as he has worked out with former Vikings receiver Cris Carter in Florida, which is actually where he tweaked the knee injury prior to the combine.
According to NFL.com's Gil Brandt, Allen had an appointment to meet with renowned surgeon to the athletes Dr. James Andrews (who performed Adrian Peterson's knee surgery). Although Allen planned to run routes at his pro day, he told reporters last week that his knee didn't feel good when warming up and he opted not to work out.
After several delays in putting his knee to the test for NFL personnel evaluators this offseason, the latest plan is for Allen to have an individual workout in Greensboro, N.C., on April 9.
Without the questions surrounding his knee, Allen would be considered a good value pick for the Vikings with either their 23rd or 25th overall selection, but it's clear their evaluation of his knee will be key in the analysis.
Before Allen's pro day, another big-bodied receiver, 6-3, 210-pounder Aaron Dobson of Marshall, had his pro day. Like Allen, Dobson didn't run the 40-yard dash at the combine, but Dobson posted solid times of 4.40 and 4.42 at his pro day, which would have tied for sixth at the combine.
In Dobson's case, it was a hamstring injury that prevented him from running at February's combine. In addition to the 40-yard dash, Dobson also went through on-field drills at Marshall.
Speed has never been an issue for West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin, one of the smaller receivers in this year's draft. He is only 5-foot-9 and 174 pounds, and with the second-fastest time in the 40 at the NFL combine (4.34), he elected not to run again at his pro day in front of representatives from a reported 29 NFL teams, including the Vikings.
While he didn't do agility drills either, he did run routes and reportedly had to slow down for a few passes from QB Geno Smith, who is now expected to be a first-round pick.
Stedman Bailey, a 5-10, 193-pound receiver that averaged over 17 yards per catch on more than 100 receptions last season, didn't have a great pro day. He dropped two of Smith's passes on what was otherwise a solid quarterback performance.
At Oregon State's pro day, speedy receiver Markus Wheaton (5-11, 189) declined to do a full workout, but he ran routes and had a good showing there, just as he did at the NFL Scouting Combine last month. He is expected to be a Day 2 selection in April draft.
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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