Pro days this month at several college football programs will serve as the de facto NFL scouting combine, which was canceled amid the pandemic.
These trips are where the Vikings personnel department will get the bulk of data from measurements, athletic testing and position drills for 2021 draft prospects. Medical evaluations, often called the most important piece of the combine, are expected to be scheduled regionally later. Minnesota has the 14th pick in the first round on April 29.
The Vikings' roster needs will further crystallize through free agency, beginning soon with decisions coming on the current roster. We've already got our list of the team's five biggest needs to begin March, and five prospects you should knowas pro days get underway.
Need No. 2: Offensive line
The Vikings' annual endeavor to shore up the offensive line continues. Garrett Bradbury, Ezra Cleveland and Dru Samia are the most experienced interior options currently under contract. A free-agent signing or two is likely, but general manager Rick Spielman may have tipped his hand slightly when saying this week there are "some very good offensive linemen" in this year's draft. At tackle, the team is expected to re-sign Rashod Hill as quality depth, according to a league source, while Riley Reiff is coming off an impressive season that could warrant a new deal. Brian O'Neill is in line for his first major payday ahead of a contract season.
PROSPECTS TO KNOW
Considered one of the best athletes in this offensive line class, Slater (6-3, 306 pounds) was a three-year starter at right and left tackle before opting out of last season. He's projected by many analysts to be an NFL guard, but he was one of the Big Ten's most proficient pass protectors at tackle and is expected to be a first-round pick. Northwestern's pro day is Tuesday.
A first-team All-American selection in his first year as a starter in 2019, Davis should entice an offense like the Vikings looking for mobile guards to fit zone-blocking schemes. Davis (6-4, 315 pounds), a projected first/second-round pick, is among the best interior options in this draft class and likely won't be on the board for very long. Ohio State's pro day is March 30.
Another smooth athlete for an offensive lineman — you know the Vikings' type — Vera-Tucker (6-4, 315 pounds) moved from left guard to left tackle last fall. He was a strong pass protector, which the Vikings desperately need on the interior, and is considered a "plug-and-play Pro Bowl candidate at guard" in the NFL, according to ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller. USC's pro day is March 24.
A former Fighting Irish right tackle, Hainsey (6-4, 302 pounds) likely improved his draft stock with a strong week at the Senior Bowl, where he played everywhere, including starting the game at right guard. "The team that picks him will be getting a very polished player," NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah wrote. "I was told Hainsey's interviews with teams were outstanding." Notre Dame's pro day is March 31.
The quick-twitch Green arrived on campus as a defensive tackle and ended his Illini career with 33 straight starts — most at right guard. Green (listed 6-4 and 315 pounds) is regarded as one of the more athletic interior line prospects, but analysts say he's unrefined and more of a project for coaching staffs, which could make him a Day 3 pick. Illinois' pro day is March 17.