Percy Harvin is one of the most uniquely talented players in the NFL, but off the field concerns made it virtually impossible for the Minnesota Vikings to keep him through the final year of his contract in 2013. Even with the signing of Greg Jennings in free agency, Minnesota still needs to add some talent at wide receiver and April’s draft will provide that opportunity.
The Vikings now have two first round picks, 23rd and 25th overall, with the second of the two coming via the trade that sent Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks. So an early draft pick will surely be used on a wide receiver, and multiple players should be on Minnesota’s radar.
Robert Woods had a down junior season at USC in 2012, with 76 catches for 846 yards and 11 touchdowns and just one 100-yard game. Marqise Lee’s emergence certainly played a role in that production decline, so it was not that surprising that Woods renounced his final season of eligibility and entered the NFL Draft soon after the Trojans’ bowl game loss. As a sophomore in 2011 Woods had 111 receptions for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns, so he will be looking to recapture that form at the next level.
A report from NFL.com’s Andy Fenelon suggests the Vikings, and more specifically wide receivers coach George Stewart, spent a lot of time with Woods after USC’s Pro Day workout on Wednesday. So they clearly have significant interest in him, but is Woods a good fit for the Vikings? Let’s see how he measures up.
Weight- 201 lbs.
- Is a polished route runner; changes gears well to keep defenders off-balance and is sharp in and out of his breaks
- Has soft, reliable hands
- Is a fluid mover (“field-fast”)
- Adjusts well to the ball to make tough catches; shows good balance and body control
- Is considered a hard worker and a strong practice player
- Has experience as a kickoff and punt returner
- Exhibits good effort as a blocker
- Does not have elite size or speed
- Lacks bulk and strength; can be out-muscled by defenders
- Dealt with ankle issues during his college career (surgery on right ankle in December 2011)-durability concerns?
- His drop in production in 2012, leaving out any unknown injuries, lacks an obvious explanation outside of quarterback Matt Barkley’s inconsistency
- Occasionally extends his arms when downfield, inviting offensive pass interference penalties
- Needs to refine blocking technique
Woods is widely projected as a late first-round pick right now, and there are plenty of teams currently picking after the Vikings in the first round that could use a wide receiver. He looks likely to fit best as a slot receiver in the NFL, which explains Minnesota’s interest in him as they seek to fill Harvin’s role in their passing game.
Woods may have quelled some concerns about his timed speed with a 4.42-second 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine, but that should not be overrated either. If he is available in the second round, which looks a bit unlikely, the Vikings should consider taking him. But if not, I don’t think they should reach for him in the first round with some better wide receivers still likely to be on the board.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.