Minnesota Vikings visit West Virginia Pro Day

The Minnesota Vikings sent a scout to the West Virginia Pro Day to check out a handful of players who could see their names get called at some point during the draft, including one who is visiting.

The Minnesota Vikings sent one of their scouts to the West Virginia Pro Day on Monday and were one of 28 NFL teams represented. There were a number of players from West Virginia participating in the pro day, but it was a player from a smaller school who seemed to steal the show.

Shepherd University defensive end Shaneil Jenkins had his pro day on March 31, but only four NFL teams were represented there. He then decided to participate in a second pro day, at West Virginia, as a way to perform in front of more scouts.

Luckily for him, he had a good day. The 6-foot-3, 281-pound defensive end recorded times of 4.78 and 4.86 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 4.5 seconds in the 20-yard short shuttle and 7.25 seconds in the three-cone drill. He then posted 24 reps of the 225-pound bench press. 

Jenkins also did well running in the positional drills and reportedly looked the part of an NFL defensive end throughout the workout. His initiative to put himself in front of more scouts could have boosted him into the later rounds of the draft and at the very minimum should make him a priority free agent once the draft concludes.

Another intriguing prospect from this pro day is West Virginia inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski. He decided to stand on all the numbers he posted at the NFL Scouting Combine – his 4.22-second short shuttle time was fourth-fastest among the linebackers participating – and only participated in positional drills at the pro day.

He reportedly looked very good in the drills. Kwiatkoski is a converted safety, so he has the ability to drop back into coverage and move around better than some originally thought. He was quick throughout the drills and showed plenty of explosiveness.

There is a reported belief among scouts that Kwiatkoski will not make it past the fourth round in this year’s draft because he has everything coaches are looking for. He is a high character guy, was voted a team captain and works hard on and off the field.

The Vikings have stated that there is a possibility of moving current inside linebacker Eric Kendricks to the weak side in the future, as it may fit his skill set better. If that is the plan, Kwiatkoski could be a good fit for the middle of the Vikings defense. He is not expected to be an every-down player, but the team wouldn’t need him to be. 

The Vikings were in a nickel defense a majority of the time last year, which Kendricks and Anthony Barr would likely still run from the second level. They just need an inside linebacker to help shore up the middle of the field in run defense while they are in their base package.

There are still some things Kwiatkoski needs to clean up technique-wise, but overall he is a good player who posted plenty of stats to match. He is also a solid special teams player, which the Vikings should like since they put so much emphasis in that area of the game.

West Virginia also holds a set of defensive backs that could see their names being called during the draft – and everyone knows how much Mike Zimmer loves his defensive backs.

The 6-0, 207-pound safety, K.J. Dillon, who is visiting the Vikings this week, recorded a 28-inch vertical, a 4.43-second short shuttle and a 7.27-second three-cone drill. The team’s other safety, Karl Joseph, is almost the same size, just a hair shorter, as his teammate Dillon. Joseph was unable to participate in many drills because he is still recovering from a knee injury – he should be healed up by training camp – but he was able to perform 19 reps of the bench press.

Then there is cornerback Daryl Worley, who measures in at 6-1, 200 pounds. He posted times of 4.54 and 4.66 seconds in the 40-yard dash, but he stumbled during the second time. He decided to sit on the rest of the numbers he posted at the combine.

One final West Virginia player to keep an eye on is punter Nick O'Toole. He showed off a strong leg and good hang time during his pro day workouts. Vikings punter Jeff Locke has struggled during his career and O’Toole could be a player the Vikings bring in to push Locke for a starting spot, if they choose to bring in anyone at all.

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