The Senior Bowl isn’t often loaded with first-round talent, but the Vikings have proven they can find viable starters, sometimes even stars, in the middle rounds of the draft. That’s likely the type of prospects they were examining last week with a nearly full staff of coaches and scouts in Mobile, Ala.
“Quickness, acceleration. Just seeing them move, athletic ability,” Zimmer said when asked what traits he looks for at the Senior Bowl, while he was looking at them. “And then the rest of the stuff you’ve got to get on tape. And see how they react in different situations with all these people around. See how they react with going against people they don’t really know.”
But if the Vikings were looking to fill perceived needs with the available talent at the Senior Bowl, here are three possibilities from the North and South rosters:
Braxton Miller, Ohio State Buckeyes (6-2, 215) – Miller has the quickness of a slot receiver and many of the same movements, but yet he is 6-foot-2. He wanted to prove he could play on the outside during his week of practice at the Senior Bowl and showed he can be used in a variety of ways. Yes, he can play in the slot, but the Vikings are set there with Jarius Wright ably making his mark at that spot. Miller was used on end-arounds – as a former quarterback, that could really open up some possibilities with trick plays – and showed great foot quickness to gain separation from cornerbacks during practices. His Senior Bowl game wasn’t as impressive. He had only two catches for 8 yards and dropped one receiver screen. He didn’t get many opportunities to catch passes last year at Ohio State, either, with only 373 receiving yards, but only dropped 4 percent of his opportunities, according to Pro Football Focus. There were other taller, more refined receivers at the Senior Bowl, but Miller is an intriguing prospect to have the skills he already possesses after spending all but last year at quarterback for the Buckeyes.
Spencer Drango, Baylor Bears (6-6, 310) – Drango is a two-time winner of the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year and a four-year starter at left tackle. He practiced and played there during Senior Bowl week; however, some see him needing to transition inside to guard. But he might also be able to play right tackle. That’s where the Vikings could use the most help if they move on from Phil Loadholt. Drango showed he has the ability to hold up in pass protection, allowing only seven pressures and no sacks in 2015, both the best among offensive tackles at the Senior Bowl, according to PFF, and he showed last week that he can sustain blocks consistently in the run game.
Miles Killebrew, Southern Utah (6-3, 230) – With his size, some NFL teams could look at Killebrew as a potential outside linebacker, just as Shaq Thompson’s position in the NFL was up in the air at this time last year, but Killebrew appears to have the range to handle safety duties at the NFL level, although his strength is in supporting the run and playing closer to the line of scrimmage. Given time to develop, he and Harrison Smith could be an impressive safety combination if the Vikings would indeed draft him, likely toward the end of the second day of the draft or the beginning of the third day.
No doubt the Vikings visited and evaluated every prospect at the Senior Bowl, as they do every year, but those are three at positions of need that grabbed some attention.