Vikings Eye Back At Senior Bowl

The Vikings have shown an interest in an interesting hybrid player at this week's Senior Bowl practices.

Brian Leonard has been receiving attention this week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and the Vikings were spotted among the teams showing an interest in the Rutgers fullback.

Leonard could be a second-round pick in April's 2007 NFL Draft because of his varying abilities on the football field. He is solid in a lead-blocking role, catching the ball out of the backfield and even running the ball. However, his size likely will be the biggest question mark between now the draft. He measured 6-foot-1 and only 224 pounds at the Senior Bowl Monday morning, but he is still considered the top fullback in the draft.

According to brianleonard23.com, a high-quality web site dedicated to the fullback, he had a career-low 12 carries and 36 receptions in 2006, but still finished his Rutgers career with 667 rushing attempts for 2,731 yards and 205 receptions (a school record) for 1,862 yards. He had 32 rushing touchdowns and 13 receiving scores.

The Vikings could be looking for an eventual replacement for Tony Richardson, who completed his 12th NFL season and first with the Vikings on injured reserve. Tight end-turned-fullback Jeff Dugan received a contract extension from the Vikings after filling in admirably for Richardson, but Leonard would offer more high-end potential if he can withstand the rigors of an NFL season with his frame. The conventional thinking is that he'd have to add 10 to 15 pounds to become a traditional NFL fullback..

He has the hands and the moves to succeed, but his size could make teams question whether he's an athletic fullback or a power running back.

According to TFY Draft Preview, Leonard plays with speed, intensity and discipline and is a throwback-style fullback.

TYF's EARLY ANALYSIS ON LEONARD

Pos:
Legitimate triple-threat fullback and a devastating force in a variety of ways. Plays with excellent lean, power and displays strength in every aspect of his game. Tough lead blocker who removes defenders from the action and creates openings for running backs. Hard working ball carrier, breaking several tackles during a single run and falling forward when eventually brought to the ground, picking up precious yardage. Sees the field, finds cutback lanes and displays surprising footwork, with the ability to make defenders miss in a small area. Reliable receiver adjusting to the errant throw or getting low to scoop up the pass. Aggressive and seems to thrive on physical contact.

Neg: Lacks the pure speed and agility to get outside around tackle. Not quick out of his stance.

Analysis: Leonard is a threat every time he steps on the field and consistently makes positive things happen. A throwback lead blocker, he is also productive handling the ball. Could be used in a variety of ways and a big bruising fullback who is a three-down player.


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