#17, Greg Lewis, WR
(5115, 185, 4.48 est.) Illinois
Notes: Born Gregory Alan Lewis, Jr., in Chicago, Ill. Attended Rich South High School in Richton Park, Illinois, which retired his No. 8 jersey in 2004. Grew up on the south side of Chicago before moving to New Jersey with his family. His father, Greg Sr., works for the Manheim Auto Auction, while his mother, Willie Ann, was a 4th and 5th grade teacher in the Chicago public school system. His sister, Patricia, is married and is a 4th grade teacher. Caught 56 passes for 880 yards and 13 touchdowns during his senior season, which concluded with all-conference, all-area, and all-state honors by the Chicago Tribune. Enjoys playing chess and was a member of his high school chess team. Greg and his wife, Tamika, met in high school, but did not start dating until they were sophomores in college. She went on to Spelman College in Atlanta where she graduated with a degree in sociology. Together they have a son, Gregory, and also a cocker spaniel named Buddy. An avid fan of his hometown Chicago Cubs Lewis has sung "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at Wrigley Field. Earned a degree in speech communications from Illinois. Runs the "Deep Threat Football Camp" at Deerfield (Ill.) High School during the offseason. Also provides two annual scholarships at his former high school in memory of his friend, Sarah Pikes, who was tragically killed in a car accident. The scholarships are given to students who maintain a 3.0 GPA and participate in extra-curricular activities
College: Lewis went to the University of Illinois, joining the football team as a walk-on. He initially quit the team as a freshman, but was encouraged to return by his roommates, Aaron Moorehead (ex-Colts) and Walter Young (ex-Steelers and a cousin). Wore No. 17 with the Illini. He finished his career with 103 receptions, to rank 10th on Illinois all-time list, 1,456 receiving yards (8th) and 12 touchdowns. Served as the Illini's third receiver behind as a senior and finished the 2002 season ranked third on the team with 38 receptions for 538 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Pre-Draft: Turned in some very impressive forty times in pre-draft workouts, including a 4.38 clocking. Also posted a 36-inch vertical jump, 3.98 short shuttle, 11.24 long shuttle and 6.79 three-cone drill time.
Pro: Entered the league as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2003. Made the team and played in 11 games while catching 6 passes for 95 yards (15.8 avg.) in 2003. Played in 16 games, starting 3, in 2004 and caught 17-183-0 (10.8 avg.). In 2004, he inked a five-year contract extension through 2011. Started all 16 games in 2005 and caught 48-561-1 (11.7 avg.). Started 3-of-16 games in 2006; caught 24-348-2 (14.5 avg.). Played in 15 games, starting one, and caught 13-265-3 (20.4 avg.) in 2007. Played in all 16 games in 2008; caught 19-247-1 (13.0 avg.) in 2008.
Lewis was acquired via trade along with a 2010 7th-round draft pick by the New England Patriots in exchange for a 2009 5th-round draft pick (159th overall) on March 5, 2009. Lewis initially made the Patriots 53-man roster last week, but was released (Sept. 5) to make room for safety Bret Lockett, who was claimed on waivers from the Cleveland Browns. The Patriots still kept five receivers - Randy Moss, Joey Galloway, Wes Welker, Sam Aiken and rookie Julian Edelman.
He signed with the Minnesota Vikings on September 10, 2009.
Positives: A precise route runner with a knack for making clutch receptions. Smart player who learns and adapts quickly. Has a genuine knack for understanding and executing the nuances of the West Coast Offense. Incredible hands. His creativity allows him to be a nice vertical threat. Versatile player who can play in the slot or outside and understands the offense the Vikings run, so should ramp up quickly. Can cover kicks and contribute on special teams.
Negatives: Has a slight build and is never going to be quite as big or strong as you'd like to be a true featured No. 1 or even No.2 receiver. Has no truly outstanding physical characteristic.
Summary: A solid No. 3 receiver who brings a lot of versatility and represents an upgrade over the popular Wade because of his ability to separate from defenders better and stretch the field vertically.
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Kevin Brown has been providing personnel analysis and writing about the Vikings for more than 20 years with Viking Update. Follow VU on Twitter and discuss this and other topics on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Vikings Update web site or magazine, click here.