Notes: Born 8/15/87 in Sewell, NJ. Starred at both linebacker and fullback throughout his prep career at Washington Township High School. He posted 54 tackles, 11 tackles-for-loss, three sacks and one interception as an inside linebacker and rushed for 1,268 yards on 173 carries (7.3 avg.) as a fullback in leading his team to a 7-3 record as a senior. He was also a standout on special teams and kicked two field goals. He ran for 973 yards and 14 touchdowns on 122 carries as a junior, while recording 64 tackles, seven TFL, three sacks and two interceptions. He was also a hurdler on the track and field team and played baseball.
College: Played in all 13 games as a true freshman in 2006, posting two tackles and also playing on special teams. Projected starter at middle linebacker in 2007 but missed the start of the season after breaking his leg during spring drills. Came back to play in 11 games and post 14 tackles, including 2.5 tackles-for-loss. Earned second-team All-Big East honors as a junior in 2008 as he posted 93 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks, one interception, three pass breakups, five quarterback hurries, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. In 2009, he served as one of three captains and was part of a senior class that led the Scarlet Knights to 36 wins (second-most in school history) and four bowl games (school record) as he recorded 76 tackles, eight TFL, one sack, one interception (for 38 yards), three PBU and five QBH. D'Imperio finished his career with 185 tackles, 23.5 TFL, seven sacks, one forced fumble, three fumble recoveries, two interceptions and six PBU. Started 24 of his final 25 games.
Pre-Draft: Measured 6013 (6-1 3/8), 241 pounds at his Pro Day workout on March 10, 2010 … Posted 21 reps at 225 pounds … 1.60 10-yard dash … 2.66 20-yard dash … 4.68-4.69 40-yard dash … 33 ½-inch vertical jump … 9-7 broad jump … 4.39 short shuttle … 6.84 three-cone drill. Worked out on both defense and offense for pro scouts.
Pro: Selected in the seventh round (No. 237 overall) by the Vikings in the 2010 NFL Draft. D'Imperio said he talked with the Ravens, Chiefs, 49ers and Jets about changing positions. He met with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and running backs coach Eric Bienemy while visiting the Vikings prior to the draft. He agreed to terms on a four-year contract, receiving a signing bonus of $47,000. He received the standard rookie minimum base salaries of $320,000 in 2010, $405,000 in 2011, $490,000 in 2012 and $575,000 in 2013.
Positives: Has the size, strength and physical build to make the transition to fullback. Very smart and should learn quickly. Tremendous competitor who will give full effort at all times. Shows above-average initial quickness to the hole, good balance and determination to break tackles. Shows a little niftiness and better-than-average speed. Appears to catch the ball effectively and shows the tools to develop into a capable lead blocker. Should be a solid contributor on special teams, especially given his experience on the defensive side of the ball.
Negatives: A conversion project who hasn't played fullback since high school. Will likely need work on basic fundamentals in all phases of the game – running, blocking and receiving. Has no truly outstanding physical characteristic.
Summary: Has the physical build, good enough wheels, toughness and competitive drive to successfully make the transition from college linebacker to NFL fullback, but may need a year on the practice squad to legitimately push for a 53-man roster spot. However, if he shines in training camp, he could push veteran Naufahu Tahi.
What they said:
"I played it in high school. I didn't play it in college, but I played it in high school. It's all about collision, blocking. It's the same whether you're on offense or defense, you just don't have the ball in your hands. That's all that matters, to just go out there." – D'Imperio on switching to fullback
"Whatever they tell me to do, I'm going to do it the best I can. As far as learning, it's the same whether you're on offense or defense. You have to take stuff from the meeting room and apply it on the field. I feel like I do that very well." – D'Imperio
"Very hard-working. I'm one of the hardest working players there is. I don't think anybody will out-work me. I'm physical, and everything I learn in the meeting room, I apply to the field right away." D'Imperio describing himself as a football player
"He played linebacker for his entire collegiate career, but will transition to fullback. The Vikings have been looking to find a fullback with athleticism for a while, so if D'Imperio can fill that role, his chances of making the final roster out of the preseason will increase." – Adam Caplan, Scout.com
"His first three or four steps, I swear he doesn't raise up another two inches. It's like he can run straight from his stance and have his finger an inch off the ground. A lot of times, the first move for a fullback is they come up. There is nothing better for a defensive lineman coming in than having a fullback standing up. It's so much easier than having him coming at me low and under control. I would much prefer a guy that is standing up. I can do more things with him. It's such a small thing to pick out, but yet it's a tremendous plus, especially with him switching positions like that. Maybe there are certain things that scouts see that we haven't had enough time yet to see." – Bob Lurtsema, Viking Update
Kevin Brown has been providing personnel analysis and writing about the Vikings for more than 20 years with Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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