The Vikings met with another wide receiver as part of their predraft visits over the last several weeks, adding to a list that already included Malcolm Kelly, Devin Thomas and Andre Caldwell. The latest Vikings visit was Virginia Tech receiver Eddie Royal, according to Ed Thompson of Scout.com.
While the 5-foot-9½, 184-pound Royal only caught 12 touchdown passes in his Hokies career, he became known as a very versatile player during his tenure there, and his special teams ability should give him third- or fourth-round value, according to Tom Marino, a former NFL scout of more than 30 years.
"Little man who was both quick and fast. Has good hands but likes the ball in on his body whenever possible," Marino wrote in his evaluation of Royal for Scout.com "Has small hands and a short receiving radius. Has the quicks and feet to avoid the hold-up, but was more effective lining up in the slot. Can track down the field, but doesn't offer the QB much in the way of a target. Questionable to win in traffic. Adept kickoff and punt returner – catches well, hits the crease and goes. Good courage and judgment."
Royal had three punt returns for touchdowns at Virginia Tech and averaged 11.7 yards while returning 111 punts over four years. Last year, he averaged 14.7 yards per return with two of them going for touchdowns. He averaged 23.5 yards per kickoff return during his four seasons as a Hokie, where the value of special teams became apparent to him.
"It was big in the recruiting process, too. Special teams was big for me in high school.
I returned kicks and punts in high school, so it was important for me. Coach (Frank) Beamer was the best at it, so that was a key element for me going to Virginia Tech. He's just taught me so much that I don't think the transition to the next level will be that hard," Royal said at the NFL Scouting Combine.
But, while his return abilities have helped raise his draft stock, he doesn't want to be known as just a special teams player. He started 44 of 51 career games, catching 119 passes for 1,778 yards over that span. He also was used often on end-arounds, rushing 24 times for 226 yards (9.4-yard average) and even threw five passes, including one for a touchdown.
"I think it's important to show teams that you can do everything, that you're a versatile player," he said. "That's what I've been saying – that I can return kicks, I can play the slot and I can play the Z on the outside. It's very important just to show the teams how much I know about coverages and how much I really know about playing the wide receiver position."
While crediting Chicago Bears return ace Devin Hester for increasing the value of specialists, Royal thinks he compares more closely to the Patriots' Wes Welker.
"Definitely. I think he's the exact type of mold that I'll be at the next level for a team. He's a great punt returner, but he gets into the slots and he really knows how to find those holes. He's really productive," Royal said.
Without a third-round pick in the draft after trading two of them away, along with a first-rounder, to acquire Jared Allen, the Vikings likely would have to wait until their fourth-round pick on Sunday if they want to add Royal to their offensive and special-teams arsenal.
Below is a highlight video of Royal from YouTube:
Mid-Round Receiver Among Visitors
Viking Update Top Stories
Key matchup: Former teammates face offOnly time will tell who got the better of the Sam Bradford trade to the Minnesota Vikings, but he and Carson Wentz will face each other Sunday after the trade that surprised them…
Viking Update7:06 AM
Vikings podcast: Spielman, Bradford and moreThe Minnesota Vikings are showing the fruits of some solid roster building and coaching. Their record, their stats and their depth prove it, as a talk with Rick Spielman showed.
Viking Update6:17 AM
Vikings rush offense needs to improveThe Minnesota Vikings are the lone unbeaten team in the NFL, yet they are failing at one of the typical telltale signs of a winning team - being able to control the clock with a…
Viking UpdateYesterday at 8:23 PM
Vikings turned 2010 postponement into partyThe 2010 Minnesota Vikings suffered through a decade's worth of twists and turns - almost all of them bad. The one exception? A really long weekend in Philadelphia, where it isn't…
Viking UpdateYesterday at 4:55 PM