Longshot D-Back to Get Vikings Once-Over

Even while hosting their first minicamp under new head coach Brad Childress, the Vikings are expected be one of five teams with a representative attending a private workout for a defensive back on Friday.

Sam Smith isn't a household name when it comes to draft-eligible safeties, and Delaware State isn't exactly a college football powerhouse. But that's why the NFL draft and the 24 hours following it are so intriguing.

Sometimes NFL prospects are low-round draft picks, like Brad Johnson lasting until the ninth round of the 1992 NFL Draft and 10 years later becoming a Super Bowl starter and winner. Former Viking John Randle was a rookie free agent the Vikings signed after the draft, and every year a few of those unheralded prospects make the Minnesota roster.

On Friday, the Vikings are expected to be one of five teams in attendance at strong safety Sam Smith's private workout. The Patriots, Eagles, Jaguars and Panthers are also expected to attend.

Smith is a 6-foot, 200-pound safety who played the last two years for the Hornets after attending Williams Penn University in Iowa.

Smith led DSU with 75 tackles in 2005 after a 104-tackle performance in 2004. Last year, he also had 19 tackles-for-loss for 117 yards and had two interceptions for 15 yards.

His most unique skill, however, is his ability to pressure the quarterback. In 2004, he had 6.5 sacks for 49, but in 2005 he had an incredible 13.5 sacks for 90 yards – as a safety and linebacker. He added another seven quarterback hurries.

In 2004, he led all Division I-AA defensive backs in tackles-for-loss.

The Vikings appear set with their starting safeties for 2006, with Pro Bowl free safety Darren Sharper and newly acquired strong safety Tank Williams. They also have former third-round draft picks Dustin Fox and Willie Offord in reserve. But with Sharper entering his 10th season in the NFL, restocking the cupboard and adding developmental depth has to be one of the team's objectives in the draft or shortly thereafter.

Sam Smith might be able to fill that bill, and he could be coming to an NFL via undrafted free agency.



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