Ohio State may have had the biggest pro day so far this offseason. The team is loaded with first-round talent on both sides of the ball and representatives from all 32 NFL teams were there to see what the players could do. The Minnesota Vikings were one of the teams present as there were multiple players participating that they could possibly draft.
One of the players that the Vikings have shown interest in and even interviewed at the NFL Scouting Combine was wide receiver Michael Thomas. Thomas is an interesting pick because at 6-foot-3, 212 pounds he looks like a No. 1 receiver. The problem, however, is he does not have a lot of experience, as a majority of the plays he was involved in at Ohio State were wide receiver screens or routes designed to get him the ball quickly.
It appeared he is aware of this perception of him because he reportedly ran a multitude of routes during his pro day and looked very good. He showed off a big catch radius and excellent ball skills. He also improved on the 4.57-second 40-yard dash time he ran at the combine by recording a 4.55-second time at his pro day.
Thomas did not do anything to hurt his draft stock during his pro day and if anything he further improved his stock by answering some of the questions floating around about him. Now it’s on to the individual team meetings for Thomas and these will be key if he hopes to go in the first round.
Another player that was working out at the Ohio State Pro Day whom the Vikings interviewed at the combine was linebacker Darron Lee. Lee is an undersized linebacker, but proved at the combine that he is a very talented athlete. He was one of the top performers in a majority of the drills he ran at the combine and for that reason he chose to sit on the numbers.
He only ran positional drills during his pro day and proved to everyone present that he is a very good athlete that moves very well on the field. The biggest obstacle Lee will have to overcome will be finding a team that needs a player who fits his skill sets.
He is going to be more of a weakside linebacker that can drop back into coverage. Since he is smaller, his ability to take on blockers will not be as strong as some of bigger linebackers, but with proper technique it is something he can still handle at the NFL level.
Safety Vonn Bell is another player whose name has been linked to the Vikings this offseason leading up to the NFL draft. The pick would make a lot of sense because the Vikings need a safety that can cover the middle of the field, thus allowing Harrison Smith to utilize his versatility and move around the field.
The only workout that Bell participated in at the combine was the bench press, so his pro day performance was going to be important to show scouts what he could do. He ran the 40-yard dash twice, recording times of 4.51 and 4.54 seconds – both good times compared to what safeties ran at the combine. He also had a 30½-inch vertical jump, which was lower than any jump recorded at the combine by a safety.
Another player that Vikings fans could keep an eye on is cornerback Eli Apple. He sat on all his combine numbers, but still did positional drills during the pro day and reportedly excelled during them. He almost certainly cemented a spot in the first round, so if the Vikings want him they will need to take him at No. 23, or trade up for him. Cornerback is not a glaring need for the Vikings, but head coach Mike Zimmer is a defensive backs guy and he needs talented cornerbacks like Apple on the field for his defense to run properly.
A final player that the Vikings likely had their eyes on during the Ohio State Pro Day was defensive tackle Adolphus Washington. The Vikings’ defensive tackles got stretched thin last year, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them draft one this offseason. Washington could have been one they might have taken, but he pulled a hamstring running the 40-yard dash. That is not something players want to happen and it could very well end up hurting his draft stock.