As the Minnesota Vikings search for gems in the final rounds of the NFL draft, or perhaps even among the undrafted free agents, one name that has them interested is South Florida receiver Rodney Adams.
Their interest in bringing him in for a predraft visit, as reported by ESPN, could have as much to do with his ability to return kicks as his receiving production.
After starting his career at Toledo, Adams transferred to South Florida and averaged 25.75 yards per kickoff return on 44 attempts. That’s especially intriguing given that the Vikings lost Cordarrelle Patterson, one of the best kick returners in the NFL today, to the Oakland Raiders in free agency.
At 6-foot-1 and only 189 pounds, Adams won’t be expected to hold up much as an outside receiver and he had some of the smallest hands (nine inches) among receivers at the NFL Scouting Combine, which may have led to issues with holding onto the ball after the catch.
He was named second-team All-American Athletic Conference after catching 45 passes for 822 yards and nine touchdowns in 2015, his second season at USF after transferring from Toledo. Last year, he caught 67 passes for 822 yards and five touchdowns, but fumbled five times as well. He also had six rushing touchdowns over that two-year span.
According to Pro Football Focus metrics, Adams had a 4.17 drop rate in 2016, which is above average, but NFL.com pointed out that he struggled in that area in 2015.
At USF, Adams spent the vast majority of his time on offense as a slot receiver, where he was targeted 75 times, caught 54 passes for 704 yards and four touchdowns with a solid catch rate of 72 percent, according to PFF’s tracking of Adams in the slot.
If Vikings are able to get Adams late in the draft or even as a free agent, he likely would be viewed as a development prospect on offense but might be a good insurance policy, at the very least, as a kickoff-return man.