The Minnesota Vikings had several players from the University of Minnesota in for their top-30 visit. The close proximity of the college makes it easy to organize a visit, so having some players of interest in from there makes a lot of sense, even if they won’t all be drafted. One of the players the Vikings had in is has been seeing his stock rise the more teams continue to check him out.
Linebacker De'Vondre Campbell is a player that many experts have been talking about because they are big fans of his size and athleticism. While some of the players the Vikings had in from the University of Minnesota may not be serious targets, Campbell likely is.
Vikings needs: The Vikings are not in a dire need for another linebacker, but adding one later in the draft to add competition wouldn’t hurt. Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks have both proved to be solid players who have solidified a spot in the Vikings defense, but there are still some questions about the third linebacker moving beyond 2016. Chad Greenway is likely in his final NFL season and the team signed Emmanuel Lamur and Travis Lewis in free agency, while also re-signing Audie Cole.
With those players, along with the other linebackers on the team’s roster, there is not a lot of room for a new linebacker on the Vikings roster, but both general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer want to try to create competition at every level. By adding a player like Campbell the team would definitely be doing that and he could end up being a starter down the road.
Measurables: At 6-foot-4, 232 pounds, Campbell looks the part of an NFL linebacker. He also has arms that are just under 34 inches and hands that are just under 10 inches. Players his size are often expected to be pure pass rushers, but Campbell’s athleticism allows him to move well in the open field and that is what has caught the eye of so many analysts.
The linebacker was able to show off that athleticism during the NFL Scouting Combine. He recorded a 4.58-second 40-yard dash, which was the third-fastest among the participating linebackers. He also recorded 16 reps of the 225-pound bench press, a 34.0-inch vertical jump and a 116-inch broad jump. Campbell then ran a three-cone drill at his pro day and posted a time of 7.07 seconds.
Analysis: The biggest thing that Campbell has going for him is that he looks the part of an NFL linebacker and he has the athleticism to match. He also has the speed necessary to play sideline to sideline and chase down a running back looking to bounce a play outside.
He is good at exploding to the ball and looks to shed blockers that get in his way. It seems as though he has the ability to play both inside and outside linebacker, which gives coaches flexibility when looking for his role. He has shown flashes of being able to seal edges and also looks good when rushing the passer.
The issue with Campbell, though, is that he is still very raw. He has shown a lot of potential, but his instincts need refining. Too often he would take himself out of plays or would put himself in a position to be easily blocked, basically doing the offensive line’s job for them.
He needs to clean up on some of his techniques, especially in pass coverage. When he drops back into coverage, he can look out of place and it seems he is trying to take up space rather than disrupt a passing lane. He needs to learn to read what is going on around him and also read the quarterback’s eyes.
At this point, Campbell is viewed as a player who will be drafted in the fifth or sixth round and one who would benefit from sitting for a year and learning all the nuances of his position. The Vikings would be a good fit for him because the depth they already have on their roster at the linebacker position would allow him to sit back and learn at the next level.