Vikings

Senior Bowl Standouts the Vikings Should Keep an Eye On

Photo Credit: Vasha Hunt (USA TODAY Sports)

The Senior Bowl is an important early part of the draft season where all of the invited seniors can showcase their talents against their peers, putting tape against similar levels of competition. With the cancelation of the combine this season, it will be a bigger factor when teams are analyzing the tape of top prospects.

Here are some players that popped out from the first two days of the Senior Bowl and how they could impact the Vikings:

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

After a so-so first day, Mac Jones balled out on Day 2, showing everyone why he was a Heisman finalist. He fit passes into tight windows, helping his wideouts win their 1-on-1 matchups. He showed his pinpoint accuracy, dropping dimes and showing everyone why he should be a first-round pick.

The Vikings probably won’t take him, his impressive Senior Bowl will boost his stock and could potentially allow the Vikings to trade down with a team who wants him.

Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington

Onwuzurike had probably the best two days for any interior defensive lineman. He showcased his ability to disrupt rushing lanes and seal them quickly. None of the interior offensive linemen were a match for him, and he practically lived in the backfield all day, beating them with a combination of his strength and speed. You could see him win at the line of scrimmage with swim moves and pulling off blocking.

We all know that the Vikings need help in the trenches, and adding Onwuzerki will give them a 3-tech for the future, something they haven’t had since Shariff Floyd was forced into retirement.  With this performance at practice, we could see him put his name in the same conversation as Daviyon Nixon and Christian Barmore as the top three defensive linemen.

Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina

Probably the player who had the best first two days at the Senior Bowl, Shi Smith demonstrated an ability to create separation and beat the defenders off the line with his impressive footwork. He also showed an impressive ability to make adjustments in his routes and grab the ball when it was in the air, something he often did for the Gamecocks in his senior season. He showcased a sense of fearlessness when working over the middle, cutting in on in-breaking routes with his above-average speed.

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While the Vikings are most likely going to be in the market for a third wideout, I doubt they will grab one in the first two or three rounds. Smith is the perfect early Day 3 find that they can develop and use in the return game. He fits the profile of the typical Vikings third wideout with an ability to create separation, but he is prone to dropping the ball.

D’Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan University

Eskridge capitalized on his invite, advertising his abilities by beating higher levels of competition than he faced at Western Michigan. He demonstrated his understanding of when to take outside leverage with the extra burst of speed he has. He also was able to create separation by shaking defenders off of his routes with relative ease and was able to use his incredible vertical to grab passes that looked to be a little overthrown. This skill should prove to be useful given his small stature (5’9″, 190 pounds).

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The Senior Bowl has done wonders for Eskridge’s draft stock, likely raising him to a potential Day 2 pick after he showcased his ability to make big plays and silenced any questions about his level of competition in college. I think that if he ended up on the Vikings, he would easily win the WR3 job and would be the team’s big-play guy.

Carlos Basham Jr., DE, Wake Forest

Basham Jr. was a problem for the offensive lineman in the 1-on-1 drills all day. He utilized his power from his 281-pound body and his speed to win on both the inside and the outside, using his active hands to win, pushing the offensive lineman off of him instinctively with ease. His ability to win on both the inside and the outside will be very useful on the next level, where teams will manufacture stunts to get him free on the quarterback.

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Basham Jr. would be a nice fit opposite Hunter where he could show his ability to beat NFL tackles using a combination of his strength, speed, and hands.

Demetric Felton, WR/RB, UCLA

Despite being the primary back for UCLA last season, Felton took reps with the wideouts, showcasing his speed and ability to create separation when asked of him. His versatility is incredible, showing his ability to win on both shorter and deeper routes with his incredible speed.

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With Ameer Abdullah hitting free agency, it might make sense for the Vikings to add a player who could fill his role and add a bit of big-play ability with his speed. He could also work with Dalvin Cook in two-back sets where he ends up splitting out wide to move defenders out of the box.

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