MOBILE, Ala. — Adam Zimmer is back to the backers.
The Vikings linebackers coach arrived in Mobile, Alabama, on Monday for the 70th Reese’s Senior Bowl and fresh off of leading the West to a victory as a head coach in the 94th East-West Shrine Game.
Now, he’ll evaluate linebackers through three days of practice reps and the annual all-star game on the Gulf Coast.
In addition to finding some char-grilled oysters, Zimmer has helped fill the Vikings linebackers room with Senior Bowl players in recent years.
Kentrell Brothers (2016) and Ben Gedeon (2017) made impressions on the Vikings coaching staff and personnel department in their respective years.
“Kentrell did a nice job with the practices all week,” Zimmer said. “You saw his movement skills, you saw his physicality. I remember the first day I was here two years ago with Ben, when they said, ‘Who do you like?’ I said, ‘I like that guy from Michigan. I would take him right now,’ and he ended up being on our roster, so there’s good talent to be found here.”
Vikings.com caught up with Zimmer to discuss what the past week was like and the outlook for this week.
“Getting to be a head coach for a week was pretty cool, to go through all of things that they do [on a] day-in, day-out basis, stuff that you just take [for granted] as an assistant coach and just show up when the time says,” Zimmer said. “Now, you’ve got to tell everybody when to show up.
“It was really cool. The whole week was just a good experience, getting to know the players for the upcoming draft and get them in a football setting, kind of learn what type of guys they are and how they learn, and how they are around their teammates,” he added.
Zimmer said he asked his father, Head Coach Mike Zimmer, for any last-minute advice and was advised to “just be yourself.”
“For the practice schedules, I pretty much took what we do in Minnesota because I wanted to give these guys a feel for an NFL practice and an NFL week,” Zimmer explained. “I kind of modified it to what I thought would best showcase their abilities, and we went with it from there.”
In addition to Zimmer, Vikings assistant special teams coach Ryan Ficken was the special teams coordinator and Vikings assistant defensive line coach Robert Rodriguez was the defensive line coach for the West.
Vikings co-offensive line coach Andrew Janocko was the offensive coordinator, and assistant defensive backs coach Jeff Howard was the defensive backs coach for the East.
Zimmer particularly relished the opportunity to match wits with Janocko.
“The reason they told us they did that was so that we could kind of get a look at both teams and evaluate both teams and have guys on both sides,” Zimmer said. “It was good, getting a leg up on Andrew.”
Zimmer’s sisters, Corri and Marki, made sure to take videos of their brother when he did sideline interviews.
“They sent a bunch of videos of my interviews and screenshots, so they were excited,” Zimmer said. “I got a lot of texts after the game. Hopefully it’s not the last time that I get to do that. It was really cool.”
As for this week, Zimmer will be able to direct his focus on the linebackers, who are among 114 invited prospects.
“The practices are really good because you get to see them moving in pads, hitting,
Zimmer said. “It’s a lot different than on game day, so you can get some good evaluations from the practices. Hopefully it will give you what you’re looking for when the draft rolls around.
“You write your report and try to talk to these kids and get the most you can out of them,” Zimmer added. “Hopefully it works out, and you can get the guys that you feel most comfortable with. A lot of times, it falls down to where you’re drafting and who takes who in front of you. Usually the good players, most of the teams like those guys.”
The Vikings are scheduled to select 18th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, which is scheduled to occur from April 25-27 in Nashville, Tennessee.