Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Vikings assistant lauds USC receiver Robert Woods as high-character guy

Posted by: Updated: March 28, 2013 - 8:26 AM

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman has made it clear that he is not tied down to selecting a receiver with either of the team’s first round picks, selections that will come at Nos. 23 and 25 on April 25. But you can bet Spielman will make sure to have at least one receiver in pocket by the end of the draft’s second day and perhaps two or three promising pass-catchers by the time the draft finishes.

So now comes the crucial finishing stretch for Spielman and the Vikings in continuing to arrange their big board, prioritizing players that not only have athletic upside but fit with the franchise’s offensive and defensive systems. Oh, and yeah, like in 2012, the Vikings are putting a premium on guys with high character, unselfishness, strong work ethics and a passion for improving.

With that in mind, it was no surprise that receivers coach George Stewart came away from the pro day at Southern Cal on Wednesday praising Trojans receiver Robert Woods.

Woods was an All-American coming out of high school and he cracked the starting lineup at USC from his first game as a true freshman. He’s a good route runner, can make catches in traffic and rarely gives up on a play. Yet even with all that Stewart delivered a praise-filled endorsement of Woods for other reasons.

Here’s what the Vikings receivers coach told the Los Angeles Times:

“We’re a character organization from ownership on down,” Stewart said. “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.”

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