You know who’s kind of getting lost in the shuffle during this mock draft season? Robert Woods. The USC receiver is almost never brought up as a guy the Vikings might target in the first round. It’s all Keenan Allen this, DeAndre Hopkins that, with a sprinkling of Justin Hunter and Terrance Williams and a few other names. But very little on Woods.
Why is that I wonder? Maybe people are just biased against USC guys. Too many hyped-up USC guys have gone bust in the NFL. Obviously Woods has a few specific issues that make him maybe a little less intriguing as a draft prospect. He has had issues with his ankles in the past and some are concerned about that. Also, he lacks elite talent and may have benefited from being surrounded by great players at USC. With so many receivers crowding their way into that first round prospect area, a guy like Woods with the small concerns naturally gets downgraded a little. People are looking for reasons to downgrade certain guys and these little nagging issues make handy excuses.
Maybe the above-mentioned concerns are being factored in heavily by the Vikings. I don’t know. I do know that at least one Vikings assistant is saying nice things about the young man. Receivers coach George Stewart watched Woods at USC pro day and came away very high on him. Stewart made special mention of Woods’ intangibles, saying:
We’re a character organization from ownership on down. I had a chance to visit with [Woods'] mom and dad and they’re character people. Those are the type of people who will turn an organization, character people. That’s a premium for us… We’re very interested in guys who can make plays. But character first and foremost is what we’re interested in, and [Woods] has that.
Am I the only one detecting a little shot at Percy Harvin in there? Maybe. Clearly Stewart is impressed by Woods. And he’s really impressed by Woods’ parents. I think that’s an underrated element of the whole scouting process. The parent interview. You can’t learn very much about how a guy runs routes from talking to his parents, but you can learn a ton about other important stuff. What kind of breakfast cereal he likes. Does he keep his room neat or is he a slob? Will he take out the garbage when asked or do you have to pester him about it? All highly pertinent information.
To be serious though, let’s not sleep on Woods. Obviously he’s on the Vikings’ radar. Whether they’re blowing smoke by singing his praises is something we can only guess. If they’re trying to talk up Woods so some other team takes him, that means they’ve got their eyes on another receiver. So we can safely assume that receiver is being targeted in the first.