One of the biggest weeks of the draft process, the Senior Bowl has long been a proving ground for under-the-radar players who want to serve notice that they are ready to take it to the next level.
These players come into Mobile, Alabama quietly, but by the time the week is out, they've made some noise.
The Vikings are definitely in the market for wide receiver help. Jarius Wright is still a bit raw and Jerome Simpson underwhelmed in 2012—Percy Harvin can't do it by himself, right?
Yesterday I watched the South squad practice and three receivers stood out to me—one who should have and two whom I didn't expect.
Of course, Baylor's Terrance Williams was a guy who was supposed to produce, and he certainly did that. Williams is a big, strong wide receiver who battled with the defensive backs during 7-on-7 drills and made them earn their pay.
He showed good speed, some great hands and the ability to adjust to some badly thrown balls—something which happened a lot with a South quarterback group which struggled.
Williams is definitely someone the Vikings should be looking at—his ability to adjust to the flight of the ball and his long reach make him someone who could be a big help to Christian Ponder.
The next two guys were surprises.
After the weigh in on Monday morning, I was told by one media member to keep an eye on Ryan Swope out of Texas A&M.
Swope has good size and arm length, though his hands are a bit small—a concern which would prove founded a little later.
In individual drills, Swope was on fire. He ran tight routes and drills and made some great catches. Once the defensive backs were added though, he struggled and had a few bad drops.
One thing that is a definite plus, though, is that he learns from his mistakes and is coachable.
At one point, Swope missed on a badly thrown ball—well behind him and with minimal chance of making a play. He tried—he just couldn't pull it off.
The receivers coach got on him, though, telling him he had to get that ball and what he did wrong.
Next time out, Swope got another ball thrown well behind him—but this time he made a tremendous catch, just grabbing the ball with his fingertips.
I'll be watching on Tuesday to see if what I saw on Monday was first-day jitters and how he responds.
The last guy the Vikings should be looking at on the South squad is Duke's Conner Vernon.
Vernon didn't stand out in individual drills—he wasn't bad he just didn't look nearly as good as Swope.
During 7-on-7 drills, though, Vernon was incredible.
Vernon was fast, made tremendous ankle-breaking cuts, fought for the ball and generally made life miserable for the defensive backs.
As the drills went on, he became a favorite target for the South quarterbacks and displayed great hands, an ability to run after the catch (which, given it was a non-tackling day only goes so far) and a determination to get the ball.
Of the three players we've talked about here, Vernon was the guy who surprised me the most and from whom I am really looking forward to seeing more as the week progresses.
Is there anyone in Mobile you want to see either on the North or South squads? Let me know in the comments and I'll try to report back. You can also follow me on Twitter throughout the day.
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