NFL Europa offensive lineman recently signed by the Vikings, Adam O’Connor, has come a long way in his bid to make it in the NFL. O’Connor originally enrolled at William & Mary (the alma mater of safety Darren Sharper and former Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin) as a defensive end, where he had a productive college career (170 tackles, 35 tackles-for-loss, 16.5 sacks and 5 forced fumbles).
Following his senior year, he earned the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s (NSCA) annual All-American Strength and Conditioning Athlete of the Year award, recognizing student-athletes dedication to strength training and conditioning.
“Adam came to [W&M] as a skinny, 225-pound freshman with very little strength training background, William & Mary speed, strength and conditioning coach John Sauer said. “But, to his credit, Adam worked extremely hard to improve himself in all areas. These accolades are very much deserved.”
During his collegiate career at William & Mary, O'Connor was a three-year starter at defensive end, where he earned Third-Team All-America mention as a junior.
Despite his success on defense in college, pro scouts envisioned him as an offensive lineman for the NFL. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Carolina Panthers following the 2006 NFL Draft. Although he hadn’t played on offense since high school, O’Connor made it to the final roster cut with the Panthers and showed enough potential to begin the season on their practice squad.
He went overseas this spring and started all 10 games at left tackle for the Hamburg Sea Devils, who won the World Bowl title this season. He helped the team amass 428 yards in the team’s World Bowl victory over Frankfurt.
At just over 6-foot-7, and about 300 pounds, O’Connor has grown into a big-league player. The reps he got in Europe at the more difficult left tackle spot on one of the better teams has only helped him develop. Having played defense, he obviously has better-than-average athletic ability for the O-line. He’s also a hard worker who learns quickly.
O’Connor certainly remains a longshot to make the Vikings squad, but he’s come far enough to earn a look.