Kobe McCrary was hidden in a deep Gophers backfield last season, so he hopes to show the Vikings his worth this weekend.
McCrary is one of three former Gophers players trying out for the Vikings during a three-day rookie minicamp that started Friday. Defensive back Adekunle Ayinde, who had an interception during Friday’s passing drills, and defensive tackle Merrick Jackson were also invited after going undrafted.
So after leading the Gophers with eight rushing touchdowns and 5.3 yards per carry last fall, McCrary is looking to take advantage of another opportunity with the Vikings.
“Show that I can play at a high level,” said McCrary, who gained 496 yards on 94 carries last season for the Gophers. “Last year, I didn’t have many reps, but the reps I did have I felt I made the most of it. Being patient is a good skill that I have.”
Many other tryout players were invited from colleges in the region, including running back Max Mickey (Sioux Falls), safety Mackenro Alexander (Iowa State), safety Kamari Cotton-Moya (Iowa State), linebacker Zach Bassuener (Minnesota Duluth), linebacker Bo Bower (Iowa), guard Sam Lee (Augustana), center Austin Kuhnert (North Dakota State), tackle Landon Lechler (North Dakota State) and defensive tackle Nick Jacobsen (Wisconsin-River Falls).
‘He’s got a chance’
The Vikings didn’t believe cornerback Holton Hill was worth a draft pick, but they are still taking a chance on him as an undrafted free agent. Hill, the former Texas cornerback, was suspended for his final month in Austin for “violating team rules” and reportedly failed a drug test at the combine.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer defended his decision to add the 6-2, 196-pound Hill, who said he had “five or six” offers from other teams and is looking to “build” after mistakes in his past.
“We spent a lot of time with him,” Zimmer said. “He was here on a top 30 [predraft visit]. We met with him in Indianapolis [at the combine]. He’s a good football player: big, fast, tough, good tackler. So we’ve had a lot of conversations with him. I’m excited. He’s got a chance. If he comes in here and does what we ask him to do, he’s got a chance.”
Two things stand out while standing in front of second-round draft pick Brian O’Neill. The 6-7, 297-pounder from Pittsburgh is big, but will need to get bigger to succeed as an NFL tackle.
The outside assumption is he will need a year to develop before he’s able to start. What say you, Brian?
“Everyone is entitled to an opinion,” said O’Neill, who signed a four-year deal before rookie minicamp started Friday. “But I think the only couple of opinions in my world now that matters are coach [Tony] Sparano’s, coach [John] DeFilippo’s and coach Zimmer’s.
“Whatever they perceive as my weaknesses and tell me to fix, I’m going to fix. I’m really only focused on those three opinions. Everybody else’s is what it is.”
Beebe’s son trying out
The Don Beebe lookalike running routes Friday was the former NFL receiver’s son, Chad.
At 5-10 and 185 pounds, Chad Beebe is an inch shorter and the same weight as his dad, who played nine seasons (1989-97) for the Bills, Panthers and Packers. Chad Beebe, who has an invite with the Colts next weekend, is one of 31 players trying out for the Vikings.
“I’m not a 4.2 guy like my dad was,” said Chad, referring to his dad’s famous speed. “But the intensity is the same. One hundred percent effort. All the time. That’s the same.”
Knee not a worry
Linebacker Devante Downs thinks the Vikings got a steal when they took him in the seventh round. He thinks he would have gone in the second or third round if he hadn’t torn an anterior cruciate ligament for the second time last season at Cal.
“I came back from [one in high school],” said Downs, who is lining up at middle linebacker. “I can do it again. It’s going to happen.”
Staff writer Mark Craig contributed to this report.