Vikings take note of Stafford and others
Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, expected to go early in the first round of this year’s NFL draft, attracted a huge crowd at his team’s pro day in Athens, Ga., on Thursday. Representatives from all 32 teams were on hand, including multiple people from the Vikings.
Stafford (6-2 ¼, 225, 4.84) threw the ball well in workouts and impressed scouts with his arm strength and accuracy during the session. Most onlookers suggest that any thoughts of Stafford sliding very far in the first round (particularly as low as Minnesota’s pick at No. 22) were pretty well squashed with his performance on Thursday.
However, Stafford wasn’t the only draftable prospect on display. Others included: RB Knowshon Moreno (5-11, 210, 4.58), CB Asher Allen (5-9 ½, 194, 4.48), WR Mohammed Massaquoi (6-1 ½, 210, 4.62), DT Corey Irvin (6-3, 301, 4.96), ILB Dannell Ellerbe (6-1, 236, 4.63) and FB Brannon Southerland (6-0, 247, 4.67).
“Moreno is a tremendously gifted offensive weapon who is a threat to take it to the house any time he touches the ball,” according to Scout.com’s Chris Steuber. “He runs with outstanding pad level, displays great vision and tremendous cutback ability. He has a quick first step and is lethal on the edge. He’s deceptively strong between the tackles and will fight for extra yards.”
With Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor, the Vikings do not consider running back a priority in the top rounds of the draft, but if Moreno were still on the board when they pick, they might be compelled to take his overall value at that point.
Running back might not be a high priority for the Vikings, but cornerback might be. “Allen is an undersized corner who plays with surprising physicality,” according to Steuber. “He has excellent cover skills and athleticism. He has a quick burst to the ball and flashes adequate ball skills. He demonstrates good tackling technique and isn’t afraid of contact. He’s a leader and a high-character person. He’s an experienced return specialist.”
All are typical characteristics of a need the Vikings have to bring in an eventual successor to Antoine Winfield at cornerback. Allen could merit consideration in the third-round range by Minnesota.
Massaquoi is a tough, competitive, possession-type receiver with some West Coast offense tools to work zone coverages inside and run after the catch. He’s perhaps a fourth-round consideration.
Irvin, Ellerbe and Southerland are late-round prospects who would compete for depth spots on the roster, with perhaps Irvin matching up best with Minnesota’s needs at this point.
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