The Minnesota Vikings hosted a regional combine back on March 5. It was a chance for players from smaller schools that weren’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine to get recognized by an NFL club. McNeese State running back Derrick Milton was one of the players participating in the Vikings’ regional combine and it appears he made a good impression on the team.
Milton received an invite back to the Vikings training facility as a part of the team’s top-30 visits, according to KTSP-TV. He was originally a three-star recruit coming out of high school that committed to Mississippi State, but later transferred to McNeese State.
Vikings’ needs: The Vikings already have one of the best, if not the best, running backs in the league with Adrian Peterson. They also have two capable players to back him up in Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon. McKinnon also proved to be a valuable asset to the team in the passing game toward the end of last season.
Since the team is already pretty set at running back, there is no immediate need for them to draft a player early. However, Peterson is going to turn 32 in a little less than a month, so it could be time for the Vikings to start planning for the future after Peterson. By bringing in a player like Milton they could give him a year or two to adapt to the NFL in hopes he will be ready to contribute once Peterson and the Vikings part ways.
Measurables: Milton measures in at 6-0, 200 pounds. There is not a lot of information out about his performances at the regional combine or his pro day, but it was reported that he recorded a 10-foot-7 broad jump. If he would have done that at the NFL Combine it would have been the 10th-longest jump for a running back since 2010.
He also recorded a 20-yard short shuttle time of 4.20 seconds and a 60-yard shuttle time of 11.63 seconds, according to the Associated Press. Both of those times would have been among top-10 marks at the NFL Combine.
Analysis: Milton was able to put on some good performances at the Vikings’ regional combine and his pro day, but those performances are just part of the evaluation process. The other part, and probably the more important part, of it is for teams to evaluate these players on tape, and when they watch Milton they will not see much.
After transferring from Mississippi State, he lost his starting job in 2014 due to a toe injury. His backup went on to have a great season, which led to him playing second fiddle in 2015. He rushed for 434 yards and two touchdowns on the season, but he did record 138 rushing yards on 19 carries during his team’s Week 12 matchup against Lamar.
Milton knows that he did not put up many numbers in college, but believes there is still a place for him on an NFL roster. One thing that should help bolster his stats is the fact that he was a key special teams player at McNeese State, and teams like the Vikings put a lot of value in a player who can help contribute on special teams.
The Vikings will likely not use a draft pick on Milton, but it is possible that they view him as a priority free agent. It will be a long shot for Milton to make an NFL roster, but there is a chance.