'Tweener defender gets Vikings' interest

From the first round to potential rookie free agents, the Vikings are scouring the rookie prospects hard this offseason, and Scout.com has uncovered another player invited for a Vikings visit in April. It could be a big transition for him in several aspects.

The difference between Middle Tennessee State and the National Football League is big. So is the difference between playing defensive tackle at Middle Tennessee State and linebacker in the NFL.

Yet, with those two qualifiers in mind, the Vikings have scheduled a predraft visit with Chris McCoy, the football player who is a projected defensive end or linebacker at the NFL level, according to Scout.com's Chris Steuber.

The Vikings are allowed 30 predraft visits to their Winter Park practice facility before the draft, and they have a few others lined up for their massive April 6-7 gathering of prospective picks, but McCoy is lowest rated player Scout.com has uncovered for a Vikings visit.

McCoy is also scheduled to visit with the Philadelphia Eagles in the days after his visit to the Vikings, according to Steuber. The Eagles were rumored to be interested in potentially signing Vikings restricted free-agent defensive end Ray Edwards to an offer sheet, but after they traded for Darryl Tapp and gave him a contract extension, their apparent interest in Edwards has likely faded (if it ever was that strong) since they would have to surrender a first-round pick in order to sign him.

The Vikings' interest in McCoy, or any mid- or late-round defensive end or linebacker makes sense. If Edwards signs his tender with the Vikings and doesn't reach a contract extension before next February, he would be a free agent again. (Without a Collective Bargaining Agreement in place, it's impossible to know how restricted he might be, as he would have been unrestricted this year if the previous CBA were still in place).

In addition to Edwards, Brian Robison is also scheduled to be a free agent after the 2010 season and so is Jayme Mitchell. More than likely, the Vikings would make every effort to keep either Edwards or Robison, but having a developmental player to compete with Mitchell for a rotational role is likely an appealing option.

McCoy's size (6-foot-3 and only 251 pounds) makes him an interesting study to see where he is projected by NFL teams. As a two-year starter for the Blue Raiders, he earned Sun Belt Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 after he recorded 64 tackles, 20 for a loss, and seven sacks. McCoy participated in the East-West Shrine Game this offseason and produced three tackles during the game.

However, as good as McCoy was as a senior, he didn't receive an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine. He also earned honorable mention All-America billing from SI.com

McCoy is currently the 31st rated outside linebacker listed on Scout.com's 2010 NFL Draft rankings. His weight would fit in as an outside linebacker, but it remains to be seen if could make the transition from interior defensive lineman in college to outside linebacker, where the Vikings could also look to add a developmental player behind starters Chad Greenway and Ben Leber and alongside Pro Bowl special-teams player Heath Farwell and second-year linebackers Kenny Onatolu and J Leman.

All those questions about McCoy's position in the NFL could have him dropping out of the draft completely and signing as a rookie free agent. But no matter where his position and his rookie stock are at, he has proven to be at least good enough to leave the Vikings wanting to learn more about him.

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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