Throughout the predraft process – from the Senior Bowl to the Combine – the name of Arron Sears continues to surface in conjunction with the Minnesota Vikings.
The connections continued this week, as the Tennessee offensive lineman told Aaron Wilson of RavensInsiders.com, our Baltimore affiliate on the Scout.com network, that he is heading to visit the Minnesota Vikings next week.
Sears has played every position on both sides of the offensive line except for center, but the Vikings' interest in him would be on the right side of the line, either at guard or tackle. Indications are that the Vikings will let former second-round picks Ryan Cook and Marcus Johnson compete for the starting spot at right tackle, and veteran Artis Hicks is returning as the incumbent starter at right guard, at least for now.
But while the team's more pressing needs are on the right side of the line, specifically at guard, Sears said at the NFL Scouting Combine in February that he is most comfortable on the left side of the line and likes playing tackle the best, although he admitted that most NFL teams are looking at him as a guard.
"I love playing tackle. It's the biggest challenge playing out there on the edge with the speed of the ends and all that," said the 2006 All-America lineman. "I like the left side – that's where I played my senior year at Tennessee."
It was there that he got to test his skills against some of the top-rated defensive ends in this year's draft class as well, players like Florida's Jarvis Moss and Arkansas' Jamaal Anderson. In facts, Sears told Wilson he studied film of those two games with coaches from the Ravens during his visit with them on Wednesday.
"They wanted to see how I did against great competition," said Sears, who won the Jacobs Award as the conference's top blocker. "I'm biased, but I think the SEC is the best football that's out there."
Ironically, it wasn't those two whom Sears praised at the combine when asked about the best pass rushers he has faced. In that context, he mentioned Quentin Moses of Georgia and Ray McDonald of Florida.
Since Vikings coach Brad Childress loves to talk about players' "position flexibility," Sears' visit with the Vikings next week is no surprise. In fact, in one game against Alabama in 2004, Sears played three different positions on the offensive line to cover for injuries to teammates.
"Most of the teams in the NFL carry only six or seven lineman and that's pretty good for me to be able to play guard and tackle," he said.
Before that Alabama game, he hadn't played guard, he said, but the coaches asked him on the sidelines if he could. He certainly did, and now his versatility is one of his biggest selling points to personnel evaluators at the NFL level.
"They talk about it almost in every meeting I sit down in. They like that a lot because guys do go down. The game of football today, everybody gets hurt and you've got to be able to step in and be able to help the team out," said the 6-foot-3, 319-pounder.
With his versatility and his rising stock since the end of the season, Sears is generally considered a first- or second-round pick.
Besides being part of the Vikings' prospect visits next week, Sears will also visit the Washington Redskins and St. Louis Rams, and he has already visited the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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