Listed at 6-foot-7 and 322 pounds, Nat Dorsey is an imposing physical specimen. With a score of 35 on the Wonderlic test, he is also an imposing mental specimen.
Dorsey's talent and intelligence had many draft experts ranking him as either a low first-round or even a second- or third-round choice. When he fell to the Vikings in the fourth round, with the 115th draft choice overall, they could pass on his promise no longer.
Dorsey played left tackle with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, and that is where the Vikings are at least beginning his entrance into the NFL.
"We're going to bring him in at tackle, and if you look at our roster we don't really have a backup left tackle. Eventually he needs to get stronger and redo his body. He's a junior coming out. He played good ball early in his (college) career," head coach Mike Tice said after the Vikings drafted Dorsey. "We saw him at the Combine and we really like the great kid.
"He could have gone to any college in the country and he chose Georgia Tech because of George O'Leary. He told me that himself. We kept an eye on him on the draft board for a while, and finally at a certain point, regardless if we needed a tackle or not — because I think (Adam) Haayer has improved and I like (Adam) Goldberg a lot — we got a good football player. Michael Rosenthal is in the last year of his contract, and you always look at that stuff. You have to keep that in the overall picture if you're keeping the whole package in mind."
That means Dorsey could eventually replace Rosenthal at right tackle, but right now he is concentrating on left tackle, where he gave up only four sacks during his three-year college career.
While Tice said Dorsey needs to get stronger, Dorsey agreed but said he can play football as is.
"Everybody says something, but when you're out there and you play, that can still show stuff," Dorsey said. "When I went to college I wasn't built, but I could still play. Some people can just play football — you don't have to look like a football player. I can just play football.
"Of course you want to get stronger. You don't ever want to stay the same, you want to build on what you have. Especially us rookies out here … of course we want to build up strength. But I'm feeling pretty good. I'm going to have some rough days, some good days, some bad days."
His production in high school got him rated as the 21st-best prospect in Louisiana by SuperPrep magazine. After three years in college, his initiation into the NFL started earlier this month with minicamp, a time that typically has the heads of rookies spinning. It is their first look practicing against NFL veterans and their first time with professional teammates.
"It's cool. You've got a lot of things to learn. It's something different. If you come in thinking you're going to be overwhelmed, you'll be overwhelmed. I'm just taking every day piece by piece and building on it. I'm having a good time out here," Dorsey said.
The new surroundings, new locale, new system, new teammates — the whole experience can be made easier with the ability to digest new information quicker. A Wonderlic score of 35 can help, Dorsey said.
"It helps me understand all the calls that are made. It helps me get as crisp as I can," he said. "You want it crisp because that's going to make it easier for you to play early. It helps me a lot to understand everything that's going on."
Another thing that has helped Dorsey's acclimation is his familiarity with some veterans, like former Georgia Tech teammates Nick Rogers and Kelly Campbell, and he says he knew some of the other rookies from spending time together at February's Indianapolis Combine.
His new teammates on the offensive line have also helped him, and he has been impressed with their talent level. Still, he isn't satisfied with taking a back seat and being a career backup.
"I want to play on the field, to start. I want to get some reps this year and help the team any way I can and put myself in a better position for next year or this year to start," he said. "I want to come out here and play. … You learn more when you are out there on the field making mistakes."
He's practicing at 324 and said he "feels good right now."
Dorsey A Big Man With Quiet Confidence
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