Vikings Talk With Defensive Tackle

With two Pro Bowlers in the fold, the immediate need at defensive tackle isn't pressing. Still, the Vikings have been investigating all the possibilities in the draft the last few months.

With two defensive tackles making their second straight Pro Bowl appearances earlier this month, the Vikings have no immediate need at the position, but that is often the beauty of successful drafts.

When the Vikings had Cris Carter and Jake Reed, they drafted Randy Moss in the first round because he was the best athlete available. When they had Chester Taylor and Mewelde Moore, they drafted Adrian Peterson, who turned out to be the NFL Rookie of the Year, among many other honors – including a rookie Pro Bowl berth.

So while the Vikings search out the prospects in this year's NFL draft at defensive tackle, they won't be drafting for need, only for quality depth that can develop behind Pat Williams and Kevin Williams. One of the possibilities they were looking into at the Senior Bowl was DeMario Pressley.

In some ways, Pressley's draft status is a bit like the Vikings' 2007 third-round draft choice, Marcus McCauley. He may have been more highly rated before his senior season.

But Pressley also comes from a North Carolina State program that has produced NFL defensive linemen Mario Williams (the No. 1 overall choice in 2006), Manny Lawson, John McCargo and Tank Tyler in the past few years. However, injuries have slowed Pressley's progress a bit. He has succumbed to knee, wrist and toe injuries during his collegiate career and admitted to Scout.com's Ed Thompson that pro scouts will be wondering about that aspect of his college resume.

"I know a big question was, ‘Am I injury-prone?' No, I don't think I am," Pressley said at the Senior Bowl. "And I've really been working on my hands here just to prove to everyone that my hands do work right."

In reality, Pressley didn't miss too many games at NC State. He played in 10 games his freshman season, then 12, 12, and 10 the following three years. As a three-technique lineman (the position Kevin Williams plays), Pressley also found at the Senior Bowl that he can't just rely on his quickness. Better NFL offensive linemen are accustomed to that at the professional level.

"I would sometimes rely on my speed (in college), and my defensive line coach (at the Senior Bowl) told me that I can't rely on my speed that much because guards in the NFL are just as fast as I am," Pressley told Scout.com. "So my hands have to be just as fast as my feet."

Pressley is credited with being quick and having good range, but he said part of his aim at the Senior Bowl was to prove he can be an all-around defensive tackle with some power. At 6-foot-3, 300 pounds, he is developing size typical of defensive tackles entering the NFL, but he doesn't drip with sack potential. In four years, he had only 4.5 sacks with the Wolfpack, but he did produce a steady 43, 34, 38 tackles respectively in his final three years at NC State.

He is generally considered a mid-round pick, but his work ethic has been called into question, being called an underachiever by some draft analysts. In some Senior Bowl workouts, he didn't look as strong in individual drills but seemed to pick up a better sense for the ball once full-team scrimmages started.

It all seems to add up to a talented prospect with some questions – a typical mid-round pick.


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