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Vikings Focus on WR Production, Not Size, at Combine

At 6-foot and 190 pounds, Stefon Diggs isn't the biggest player at his position when he steps on the field.

But the Vikings wide receiver impressed more than a few people last season as he led Minnesota with 52 receptions and 720 yards while his four touchdowns catches were second.

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said the fifth-round pick oftentimes played bigger than his height and weight.

"He has a great catching radius," Spielman said this week at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "He's not a 6-2 or 6-3 receiver but he's got a great catching radius."

On the hunt at the combine for potential draft picks, Spielman and others associated with the Vikings have been asked if they have a need for a big-bodied wide receiver.

Besides Diggs, Mike Wallace is also 6-0, while Charles Johnson, Cordarrelle Patterson and Adam Thielen are all 6-2. Slot receiver Jarius Wright was the shortest wide out on the 2015 active roster at 5-10.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said he's open to improving his football team from top to bottom.

"I think we need to get better everywhere," Zimmer said. "I don't know that we necessarily have to, but I'd like to (draft a wide receiver). If there's a good one there, and we're ready to pick, then I have no problem taking a wide receiver.

"The more playmakers you get," he added, "the better chance you have at increasing big plays and points."

One of the biggest topics that have come up between Spielman and Zimmer is the size and quickness of a receiver.

Is there one trait that matters at the position? Not according to Minnesota's leading men.

"We've talked about that a lot, about speed versus size and size versus speed," Zimmer said. "I really think it comes down to the player.

"There's big guys that don't get off of bump-and run very good— we see a lot of bump and run. There's smaller guys that have big catch radiuses," Zimmer added. "I think we're just looking for the most dynamic guy. He might be as fast but he's got great size or he might not be of great size but he has exceptional quickness and the toughness and the demeanor."

Zimmer, a Super-Bowl winning coach with the Cowboys in 1995, said he wants traits like former Dallas receiver and Hall of Famer Michael Irvin.

"The best receiver I've ever been around was Michael Irvin," Zimmer said. "Michael was the most competitive guy that I've ever seen.

"He was a great leader, he was like the bell cow of those teams in Dallas," Zimmer added. "I wouldn't say he was the fastest guy I ever saw but he was the most competitive. It comes in all different shapes and sizes." 

Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner spoke to "Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen on the 9 to Noon Show in Indianapolis, mentioning that while Irvin and Diggs have different body types, they are each productive in their own right.

"Michael Irvin can look covered and you can throw him the ball because he's going to go up and get the ball, so it's different styles," Turner said. "But there's no question that Diggs has an outstanding ability to change direction. 

"That's what I'm talking about (in areas where Diggs can still improve), learning how to use his body, learning how to use that ability on a lot of routes," Turner added. "Those are the things we're going to start on right away when we get these guys back (to Winter Park)."

In the debate about measureables, Spielman said there's one draft prospect at wide receiver who is three inches shorter than another player but has longer arms and bigger hands than the taller player.

Spielman instead asks himself important questions — 'What's his catching radius?' and 'How does he make plays?' — in evaluating a prospect's potential.

Diggs, Spielman noted, is the perfect example of someone who defies his physical stature.

Diggs was inactive for the first three games of the season but recorded at least 87 yards receiving in his first four games.

"He didn't get on the field early in the season, and when we had some injuries and he got his opportunity, he took advantage of it," Spielman said. "That started in the Denver game, and we were pretty lucky or fortunate that we were able to find a guy like him in the fifth round."

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