The Vikings made an effort to improve their depth at defensive tackle in free agency, signing veteran linemen Ellis Wyms and Kenderick Allen to one-year contracts. But their efforts might involve more than just veterans.
Notre Dame defensive lineman Trevor Laws has a visit set up with the Vikings on April 9-10, according to a league source. Laws is a native of Apple Valley, Minn., a southern suburb of the Twin Cities.
Laws said he has spoken with the Vikings several times and grew up a fan of the team – particularly liking the style of former defensive tackle John Randle, whom Laws has never met.
"I love everything about him. The way he plays, the way he paints his face," Laws said of Randle's style. "He's a crazy guy. He's just a little ball of muscle, ball of energy and I just remember him running on the field, being small, a lot of those big O-linemen (he would) just abuse them. I just love the way he plays."
But Laws viewed Randle's moves in more detail than just a fan. He was trying to learn from them as well.
"(I) watch his pass-rush moves. I just watch his footwork. You see how him being a smaller guy can just throw around these bigger guys. It's just lots of leverage, lots of using his hips," Laws said.
One of the occasions when Laws spoke with his hometown franchise was at the Senior Bowl, where he continued momentum coming off his senior season.
"(The Senior Bowl) was a real fun experience. It's a great game," Laws said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "I'm really glad I went. Got to compete against lots of the best athletes in the country. It helped me. Had a great performance. It was fun. It was a good time."
After a senior season in which he led the Irish with a career-high 112 tackles playing at end, which he said took a lot of effort, he moved back inside to defensive tackle during the Senior Bowl.
"It's definitely different. I got a chance to play all week at the Senior Bowl inside (in a) 4-3 style defense. It was refreshing getting back to that because I had been so used to it my whole college career," he said. "I feel pretty comfortable everywhere across a D-line front, both positions at 3-4 and inside in a 4-3."
Draft analysts have Laws projected anywhere from a second-round pick to a fourth-round selection. On the lower end of that analysis is Scout.com's Tom Marino, who also had positive comments about him.
"Works his butt off. Has very good quickness, plays with leverage and has good strength in his hands. Very intense and physical. Play effort was second to none," Marino wrote in his evaluation of Laws. "Might not be quick or stout enough to play a nose A physical drive-through tackler. Will fight you, but doesn't always play big inside – got covered up some by big people. Has limitations, but overall was a very solid football player. Has strong early second-day draft potential."
Laws measured in at 6 feet and one-half inch and 304 pounds at the Combine, but he believes his shorter build could be an asset.
"I really don't know if it hurts me at all really. It definitely helps leverage," he said. "I feel like no one is ever getting under my pads."
Laws brings more than just a football background to the NFL. He was also a wrestler in high school and recruited by the likes of Minnesota, Iowa and other Big Ten schools. He says he still misses the sport a great deal but realizes what he learned in that field would help him with defensive line play "immensely, so many different things with hands, leverage, bounce. Just hips. Any wrestling helps in making a football play, especially interior line."
And there is more than just the physical side of the sport. He also has worked with a sports psychologist.
"It's been great," he said of that experience. "Just lots of visualization, lots of deep breathing exercises. It really helps."
He may want to visualize a good visit with the Vikings in a few weeks to elevate his draft stock in hopes that his hometown team considers selecting him early.
Note: Adam Schefter of the NFL Network reported last week that the Vikings are among the teams that have scheduled a visit with North Carolina defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer, but a league source with knowledge of the situation says that report may have been erroneous when it came to the Vikings' interest.
Vikings Arrange Visit with Defensive Tackle
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