(6035, 218, 4.36-4.54) Nevada
Notes: Born Marko Terrell Mitchell, 3/11/85, in Port Huron, Michigan, to mother Geneva Mitchell. Has an older brother, Cedrick, and a younger sister, Ashley. Attended Sumter County High School in York, Ala., where he was a standout basketball player. Began playing football during his junior year. Alabama recruiters showed interest in Mitchell, but he did not score high enough on the SAT.
College: He initially attended Itawamba Community College in Fulton, Miss., but did not play on the football team. Mitchell said the school promised him an athletic scholarship but gave it to someone else. The following year, transferred to Mesa Community College in Mesa, Ariz., where he caught 34 passes for 719 yards (21.1 avg.) and eight touchdowns. Transferred to Nevada-Reno in 2006, seeing action in all 13 games with seven starts, as he caught 39-493-4 (12.6 avg.). Played in all 13 games in 2007, starting nine, and catching 51-1,129-8 (21.3 avg.) with a 47-yard rush from scrimmage. Started all 13 games at "Z" receiver in 2008, catching 61-1,141-10 (18.7 avg.) and 4-45-0 (11.2 avg.) rushing. Majored in human development and family studies. Here's a YouTube highlight reel.
Pre-Draft: Measured 6035 (6-3 5/8), 218 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine … Nine reps at 225 pounds … 1.50 10-yard dash … 2.53 20-yard dash … 4.49 40-yard dash … 32 ½-inch vertical jump … 10-3 broad jump … 4.33 20-yard shuttle … 7.04 three-cone drill … 34 ½-inch arms … 10 ¼-inch hands.
Pro: Originally a seventh-round draft choice (No. 243 overall) by the Washington Redskins in the 2009 NFL Draft. After signing a four-year, $1.793 million rookie contract that included a $45,000 signing bonus, Mitchell made the Redskins' opening-day roster after an impressive showing in training camp that prompted veteran running back Clinton Portis to say, "I think Marko's just coming on strong. He's that addition that we need, along with (WR Malcolm Kelly) and (WR Devin Thomas). We were looking for a surprise, and I think he's it." He ended up dressing for 10 games and caught four passes for 32 yards.
With the new coaching regime in Washington, Mitchell was waived by the Redskins on May 3, 2010. The Vikings put in a waiver claim on Mitchell at the time, but he was awarded to the Detroit Lions who had also claimed him. However, he was again waived by the Lions on June 25, 2010. The Vikings once again put their claim in and were awarded Mitchell on June 28, 2010. The addition of Mitchell gives the Vikings nine wide receivers heading into training camp.
Positives: Natural athlete. Excellent height with very long arms and large hands. Excellent overall body length, presenting a formidable target that can be open even when he's covered. Very good sustained speed, especially for his size. Can get behind and outrun defenders and tracks the ball over his shoulder nicely. Flashes some big-play potential and shows some swagger. Can catch the ball in traffic.
Negatives: Tall and lanky but needs to get stronger. Lacks concentration at times and drops too many catchable passes. More fast than quick. The rap is marginal football intelligence and needs a lot of repetitions to pick up the finer points. Will need significant coaching to pick up the nuances of the team's West Coast offense and learn the system.
Summary: Intriguing prospect with enticing size-speed ratio, big hands, long wingspan and downfield speed to be a legitimate big-play threat, but he needs a lot of refinement and must show more consistency catching the ball than he has in his two previous stops in the NFL.
What they said:
"Possesses the pure speed to threaten a defense vertically, but his raw instincts, shaky hands and strength deficiencies could restrict development." – Nolan Nawrocki, Pro Football Weekly
"In Nevada's ‘Pistol' offense, Mitchell was very productive. He has good size and decent speed, but he's more straight line fast than he is quick and elusive. He won't do a whole lot after the catch, but he has good hands and a lot of experience catching the football. With his production, size, and knowledge of the position, I think Mitchell has a chance to stick on an NFL roster." – Mel Kiper, Jr.
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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