While fans of the Minnesota Vikings were fixed on the TCU Pro Day and the presence of Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman there, the Vikings were also represented at the Notre Dame Pro Day. Whether it was a scout or assistant coach representing the team, there were plenty of players the Vikings could end up selecting.
The first player of interest participating in this pro day was wide receiver Will Fuller. He is thought of as one of the top five receivers in this year’s draft and as a player who could possibly go in the first round. His 4.32-second 40-yard dash was the fastest of the combine and that speed is the real drawing point to him.
While he may have blinding speed, Fuller does not seem to have natural hands when catching the football, according to analysts. He is a body catcher and will lose focus at the point of attack from time to time, which has led to nine drops in each of the last two seasons.
His pro day workout was clearly focused on trying to change that perception of him. He sat on all of his combine numbers, and focused strictly on positional drills. He reportedly had a very good workout and caught the ball well, which is exactly what he needed to do.
The Notre Dame speedster is also undersized, measuring in at 6-0, 186 pounds. For that reason he is probably not going to make a living in the middle of the field because his body likely wouldn’t be able to handle the punishment it would take. He would probably benefit best as being a No. 2 or 3 receiver, but if the Vikings took him in the first round he could be looked at to be the team’s next No. 1 receiving option.
While Fuller has been the primary focus this offseason, Notre Dame has another wide receiver that could find his way onto a team’s roster. Chris Brown measures in at 6-2, 193 pounds and posted times of 4.47 and 4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his pro day. He also ran the 20-yard short shuttle in 4.31 seconds and the three-cone drill in 7.39 seconds.
Brown has a background in track and field, where he was a sprinter and a jumper. That likely helped him during his pro day workouts, as he was also able to record a 33½-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-10 broad jump.
The No. 2 receiver for Notre Dame has the ability to go up and get the ball and make circus catches, but he does not do it consistently. He also appears to run clean, crisp routes but it’s believed the separation he would gain on the field was more because of design than his own abilities.
If Brown gets drafted it would likely be on the third day of the draft. He has shown plenty of potential, but his problem is that he did not always post the kind of numbers teams would have liked to see on a consistent basis.
Another interesting player participating at the pro day was cornerback Keivarae Russell. He comes in at 5-11, 194 pounds and has proven to be able to cover receivers both on the outside of the field and in the slot. That could prove vital for the Vikings, if they choose to select him, since their current slot cornerback Captain Munnerlyn is only under contract through the 2016 season.
Russell’s pro day workout was cut short because of hamstring issues, but he was still able to perform most of the drills. He ran a 4.44-second 40-yard dash, a 4.09-second short shuttle drill and a 6.89-second three-cone drill. The cornerback was also able to record a 38½-inch vertical and an 11-foot-2 broad jump.
His hamstring injury was definitely a setback, but it should not hurt his draft stock too much. He is expected to go in a late round, but it is possible he could sneak into one of the middle rounds.
Jaylon Smith is another intriguing player that could end up falling to the Vikings. He was once thought of as being one of the top players in the draft, but tore ligaments in his left knee during Notre Dame’s bowl game against Ohio State. That injury will likely cause multiple teams to pass on him in at least the first round because of the amount of time it will take for him to recover.
It will be interesting to see if the Vikings could choose to select him if he fell. Many fans want them to take a wide receiver in the first round, but the thought of having Smith line up with Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr in the coming years might be too much to pass up.