The Vikings ended their 2016 season with five players from UCLA on their roster – including long snapper Kevin McDermott, Conor’s older brother.
With the Vikings’ need on the offensive line, there is a possibility that Conor could be joining his brother sometime on Day 2 or early on Day 3 of the draft.
“That would be a dream come true,” Conor told Viking Update last week at the Senior Bowl. “It wouldn’t have to be weird because high school, college and the NFL – it would be awesome.”
Conor certainly has the pedigree as a 6-foot-8, 305-pound athletic specimen.
He won Tennessee state championships in football and basketball in high school and was named Tennessee’s Mr. Basketball for Div. II-AA Ensworth High School in Nashville. During his four years at Ensworth, playing tight end and offensive and defensive tackle, his football teams posted a 39-8 record and reached the state semifinals in 2007 and 2008 and the semifinals in 2009 before winning it all in 2010.
In 2011, his basketball team was ranked No. 1 in the state as he averaged 15.2 points per game, 8.5 rebounds per game and 1.8 steals per game as a senior.
That athleticism showed at the Senior Bowl as one of the better offensive tackles there while receiving valuable feedback from NFL coaches and scouts.
“You can always improve on footwork and punch, but I think from talking to them they like that I played basketball in high school and came in as a tight end,” he said. “They like my athletic ability and footwork, so I’m just trying to go out there and prove to everyone that I deserve to be out there.”
He showed what he could do in UCLA’s opening game of 2016 when he faced potential No. 1 overall draft pick Myle Garrett of Texas A&M, limiting him to three total tackles (one solo, two assists) and one sack. McDermott listed Garrett as the best defensive end he faced in his college career.
McDermott is considered a mid-round pick, but admitted “you never really know until draft. You just hope for the best and just keep working until then.”
“I try not to get tense about it. Just relax and work hard and let everything happen, work itself into place.”
The Vikings were among the many teams that showed an interest in him. He met with offensive line coach Tony Sparano and other members of Minnesota’s coaching and scouting staffs.
“I talked with them a little bit each night, an interview here and there,” McDermott said. “They’ve been great and I’m just happy to be able to play in front of them.”
He also talked often with his older brother while at the Senior Bowl.
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“His experience was a little different than mine as [an undrafted] free agent, but he gave me a couple words of encouragement this week and I talked to him every night,” Conor said of Kevin. “He’s been great in supporting me and saying, ‘Just go out there and do your best.’”
Conor received 2016 All-Pac 12 Conference second-team honors from the coaches, the same honor he earned in 2015. In his time at UCLA, he made 32 starts, including 12 in each of his final two seasons at tackle.
In 2015, UCLA gave up just 14 sacks, the second-lowest in school history, and McDermott helped pave the way for running back Paul Perkins’ 1,572-yard season in 2014. Perkins followed that up with 1,343 yards in 2015 to become the third-leading rusher in school history.
At the Senior Bowl, McDermott played mostly left tackle, but also spent some time at right tackle.
“I played left tackle my past three years, but I want to show I can play right. I played right tackle also my freshman and sophomore years, so it’s been awhile. I know I can do it,” he said. “I just want to show my versatility and can play both sides.”
Pro Football Focus credited McDermott with giving up only two sacks last season and he held up well during Senior Bowl week.
“It’s been a great experience. Some of the best guys in the country out here,” he said. “It’s been a great group of guys and we’re competing hard every day and trying to show our talents. It’s awesome. It’s not overwhelming, or it wasn’t too much at first. It’s been a nice ride.”