The Minnesota Vikings took the first step toward re-constructing their wide receiver group on Monday by releasing Michael Jenkins. Pending free agents Jerome Simpson and Devin Aromashodu are unlikely to be back, and of course the trade rumors surrounding Percy Harvin will not go away anytime soon.
Even if they are not likely to be big spenders in free agency, April’s draft should give the Vikings plenty of opportunities to add wide receivers in what looks like a deep group of potential impact players. Even if the Vikings don’t use their first-round pick (currently 23rd overall) on a wide receiver, it can be assumed an early round pick will be spent on the position.
One of the wide receiver prospects ranked just below the top tier at the position is Marshall’s Aaron Dobson. He had a career-high 57 receptions with 679 yards and three touchdowns as a senior, while missing two games late in the season. For his career he finished tied for fourth in school history in receiving touchdowns (24) and ninth in receiving yards (2,398).
Let’s see how Dobson measures up, then take a closer look at how he might fit with the Vikings.
Weight: 210 lbs.
- Has excellent size
- Is a savvy route runner, sets up defensive backs well and can make catches in traffic
- Shows excellent body control and leaping ability
- Has reliable hands and excellent hand-eye coordination, makes tough catches look easy
- Shows strength and determination as a blocker
- Lacks elite top-end speed (4.53 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine)
- Is not overly athletic
- Has smallish hands (8 and 1/2″)
- Is not the kind of blocker his size would indicate, but did show improvement as a senior
NFL Comparison: Sidney Rice
Dobson showed he can be an effective red zone weapon with 12 touchdown catches as a junior in 2011, so he should make an impact in that area right out of the gate as a rookie. The Vikings need to improve the efficiency of their passing offense in all areas of the field, so his overall strengths make him a solid fit. Drafting Dobson in the first round would be a bit aggressive, but if the Vikings use a second or third-round pick on a wide receiver he should be on their radar.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bradberreman24.