The Vikings are leaving few stones unturned in their annual quest to upgrade the team with young talent. The latest evidence of their thorough scouting process? Texas A&M center Kevin Matthews, who might not even get drafted, will be among the few dozen players the Vikings bring in a for a predraft visit to Winter Park, according to Scout.com's Chris Steuber.
NFL teams are allowed to host up to 30 players for a predraft visit at their team facilities prior to each draft, and the Vikings have hosted them all for a two-day session over the last several years, and that includes dinner, meeting coaches and staff and socializing. It appears that will take place April 6-7 this year.
Third-year pro John Sullivan is expected to return as the starting center in 2010 – he replaced veteran Matt Birk last year in the starting lineup – but the Vikings don't have much depth behind Sullivan. Ryan Cook, who played center in college at New Mexico, is a restricted free agent who was tendered an offer that should keep him in purple, but he hasn't played or practiced regularly at center since being switched to tackle when he entered the league in 2006.
The lack of depth explains in the interest in getting to know Matthews better.
Matthews is the son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthew and had a solid pro day workout last Wednesday at Texas A&M, bench-pressing 225 pounds 32 times to lead all Aggies.
Matthews said he learned how to deal with the emotions of the game from his father, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 after a 19-year career with the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans.
"My dad never brought his football home with him. If he had a bad game, which I can say didn't happen very much for him, but if he had a bad game or they had a bad loss he never came home with a pissed-off attitude. He wouldn't sit there and sulk and moan. So that's kind of something I learned when I was younger," Matthews told Websider.com, the Texas A&M site on Scout.com, last fall. "I went to all those games and I'd be upset, but then I'd see my dad. To be a great player, you have to be able to get past the adversities that you'll face. If you have a bad play and you focus on that bad play, you'll end up having more bad plays throughout the game.
"The difference between a good and a great player is that they will be able to get past that adversity."
Kevin took those lessons from his father and applied them. Last year, he was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection by the conference coaches and ended his career starting 24 consecutive games. The Aggies averaged 190.4 yards rushing and 465 total yards in his senior season, when he was named to the watch list for the Rimington Trophy, given to the nation's top collegiate center.
He broke into a full-time starting role in 2008, when the Aggies averaged 340.9 yards of offense per game.
"I'm not much of a talker. I don't like to get in the big crowd and be the verbal leader," he told Websider last season. "What I like to do is I'll put extra emphasis on every little thing that I do practice-wise. When I make my block, make sure I finish, and then make sure the rest of the O-Line is finishing. I'll just start from back there, work with the O-Line and branch my way out. Hopefully (when) guys see that they build off of your intensity. If you go out to practice intense, they'll feed off of it. So I'll just go off of it that way. It's always been my way of trying to be a leader."
While Matthews might not get drafted, he is starting to get some attention.
"Matthews isn't the most impressive physical specimen on tape, but he gets his hands on opponents as quickly as any lineman in the country, plays with natural leverage and knows how to keep his base down through contact," Wes Bunting of National Football Post wrote when analyzing underrated players in the draft pool. "He won't get a ton of love on draft day, but he could end up fighting for a starting job down the line in the NFL."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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