5 Things to Know About New Vikings LB Devante Downs

Devante Downs’ draft stock had an uphill climb.

The linebacker out of Cal suffered a season-ending injury in his seventh game of 2017 that prevented him from participating in any on-field timing and testing drills at the Golden Bears pro day, except for the bench press.

Nonetheless, the Vikings saw enough from Downs prior to his injury to use their only seventh-round pick of the 2018 NFL Draft on the 6-foot-3, 245-pounder.

Here are five things to know about Downs:

1. Twice was nice

Downs was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week twice in the first three weeks of the 2017 season after helping Cal defeat North Carolina (13 tackles, interception, forced fumble, quarterback hurry) and Mississippi (14 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, one interception).

Even though Downs missed almost half of the season, he was chosen as Cal’s Defensive MVP and garnered All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention honors after finishing second on the team with 65 tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, four quarterback hurries and two interceptions.

2. Career numbers

Downs started 20 of the 40 games he played and totaled 212 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks, five interceptions (including one he returned 59 yards for a touchdown), three pass breakups, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and four quarterback hurries.

He led or tied for the team lead in tackles in eight different games.

View images of California LB Devante Downs.

3. Academics on the mind

During his first conference call with Twin Cities media members last Saturday, Downs said that Cal’s academic status and its placement of alumni on NFL rosters – including Eric Kendricks’ brother, Mychal – were key factors in his decision to head to Berkeley.

“I would say it was a 50-50 decision,” Downs said. “It was a really great school, number one public school in the country. That’s why I committed to them. And also they have a lot of … players in the NFL.”

In a 2013 interview, the former four-star recruit named Cal, Stanford, Washington, Arizona State and Vanderbilt as schools that were at the top of his list because of their academics.

4. Degree in hand

The native of Mountlake Terrace, Washington graduated from Cal in December with a bachelor’s degree in legal studies.

5. Both sides of the ball

Downs missed his senior season of high school with a knee injury. As a junior, however, he rushed for 1,271 yards and 24 touchdowns on offense and totaled 63 tackles (17 for loss) and 7.0 sacks on defense to garner a Washington Class 3A All-State Honorable Mention from the Associated Press. 

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