Tight End to Visit with Vikings

After visiting with at least two prospects on Wednesday (a quarterback and outside linebacker), the Vikings have scheduled a visit with a draft-eligible tight end.

On Wednesday, the Vikings visited with Clemson quarterback Charlie Whitehurst and Miami (Fla.) linebacker Roger McIntosh.

Sometime in the next week, the team is scheduled to meet with USC tight end Dominique Byrd, according to a league source.

Byrd grew up in the Twin Cities, and the Vikings have been talking with him throughout the major events between the end of the college season and now. He spoke with a Vikings scout at the Senior Bowl and talked with team representative again at the NFL Combine in February.

While teams are allowed to have on-site visits with up to 30 non-local prospects and additional "local" prospects, since Byrd attended USC he is thought to fit into the non-local category. That means the team's interest could be more than just a public/community relations move. Byrd might be a legitimate candidate for the Vikings' new West Coast offense, and that would mean he could keep a tattoo on his arm.

"One of my tattoos is "Minneapolis' finest." I have the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome right on my arm," he said at the Combine.

Byrd's mother worked in concessions at the Metrodome when he was younger (she now works as a teacher's assistant in the Minneapolis public schools), and he had an opportunity to watch the Twins win their World Series championships in 1987 and 1991.

While baseball may have provided some provided some childhood memories, football is likely to provide for his future. The 6-foot-2.5, 255-pounder said he believes he's a solid second-round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.

He still needs work on a few aspects of his game. "My body position. That's something I want to work on, staying low out of my breaks. And for me personally, my blocking. I've gotten progressively better and my effort has gotten better and it's been something
I've learned to enjoy," he said.

One of the obstacles he will have to overcome to get selected in the second round is his injury history. He tore an anterior cruciate ligament while playing and suffered a broken jaw in a dust-up with teammate Steve Smith following a video-game competition.

"We ended up betting on the game. Words came to blows and I ended up on the worse end of the deal. But we were brothers the day before and 20 minutes after it was resolved. It's never been a problem with me and it won't be," he said.

It can't be a problem anymore if Byrd plans to stay in the NFL very long or ever resume his political interests. As a former classmate of the son of Minnesota Senator Mark Dayton, Byrd was an intern on Dayton's campaign committee, did an internship in the senate in Washington, D.C., and has worked in the federal building in Minnesota.

All that experience in politics just might make for good practice during his interview with the Vikings.

TFY DRAFT PREVIEW ANALYSIS

Full Name: Dominique Byrd School: USC Pos: TE

Ht: 6-2.5 Wt: 255 40: 4.82 Year: 4Sr

Bio: Three-year starter who totaled 25/274 last season after winning All-Conference honors as a junior with 37/384/3.

Pos: Natural pass-catching tight end with reliable hands. Quick to top speed, runs well laterally and makes the reception in stride. Has strong hands, snatching the ball from the air. Sharp route-runner who gets separation from defenders, then displays shiftiness transitioning up field after the reception. Good eye/hand coordination and adjustment to the errant throw.

Neg: Marginal blocker who does not get results at the line of scrimmage or downfield. Has been plagued with durability issues the past two years.

Analysis: A reliable pass-catcher, Byrd nicely fits in as a move tight end at the next level. Must improve his blocking to complete his game, yet offers starting potential.


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