Vikings revisit with receiver

The Vikings have shown a lot of interest in a potential first-round receiver, taking more time with him this week.

The Vikings were scheduled to meet with USC receiver Robert Woods at the NFL Scouting Combine last month and they tracked back to meet with him again this week at his pro day.

Vikings receiver coach George Stewart was one of many NFL coaches, scouts and general managers to attend the USC pro day. In keeping with the tactic employed by general manager Rick Spielman, where he tries to get to know a prospect as well as possible, Stewart spent time talking with Woods' parents at the pro day in addition to the getting to know the receiver.

"We're a character organization from ownership on down," Stewart told the Los Angeles Times. "I had a chance to visit with (Woods') mom and dad, and they're character people. Those are the type of people who will turn an organization, character people. That's a premium for us."

The Vikings should have enough inside information on Woods. Their first-round draft pick last year, Matt Kalil, played with Woods, as did tight end Rhett Ellison. Woods and Ellison talked on the campus of USC before the combine.

Woods is considered one of the more polished receivers entering the draft, with three years of experience at a major football school like USC. He said at the NFL Scouting Combine that he considers his knowledge of the game, route-running and hands to be his strengths as a receiver.

At 6 feet and 201 pounds, he believes he compares to Reggie Wayne in the NFL.

As a sophomore, Woods was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award after he finished in the top 10 nationally in receptions (111, a Pac-12 record) and receiving touchdowns (15). He averaged 107.7 yards per game and finished with 1,292 yards. Last year, he started all 13 games and caught 76 passes for 846 yards and 11 touchdowns.

While Tavon Austin and Cordarrelle Patterson are considered two of the most explosive receivers in the draft, Keenan Allen and Woods are believed to be the most NFL-ready, according to several draft analysts.

"My quickness to get in and out of my breaks at the top of my routes (compensates for speed)," Woods said. "My high school coach always told me, ‘One, two,' which is at the top of your routes, get out in two steps. In high school, it seemed impossible. We were taking like three or four steps. But in my head, I still think, ‘One, two.' And that allowed me to get out of my breaks a lot quicker. My hands, I would say, are a strength, looking the ball in. I caught a lot of passes, so that helps me as well. And my third strength, I guess, track background, with the speed and the quickness into my breaks. That allows me to stop on a dime, and I think that helps me as well."

While Woods didn't top 1,000 yards last year – he said he didn't think it was in the plans of the coaching staff to get him the ball too often – he should be able to contribute early at the NFL level and it's clear the Vikings have an interest.

"I just want to be a big impact to a team, whether it's short passes, deep passes, or just even a few catches every now and then for a first down," he said. "Whatever role a team wants me to play I'll enjoy playing and make the best out of whatever opportunity I do get."


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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