Over the years, the Minnesota Vikings have taken a liking to University of South Carolina wide receivers.

According to ESPN Draft analyst Todd McShay, junior Gamecock Alshon Jeffery could potentially follow in the footsteps of former Minnesota draft picks Troy Williamson and Sidney Rice. On Friday, McShay released an expanded mock draft which has the former Calhoun County High School standout landing in the Twin Cities as a second round selection.

“I know there’s a lot of things that he’s got to get better at, may never be good at,” McShay said. “But I think Alshon Jeffery, to me at least, belongs in the early to mid-second round range. I think a team’s going to take a chance on him.”

Hours later, McShay critiqued Jeffery and his status among the top receivers in the draft during an ESPN-sponsored teleconference call with national media. Despite ranking Jeffery among the best pass catchers in this year’s draft, he cited several deficiencies in weighing his strengths and weaknesses.

“I watched tape after tape of him,” McShay said. “I don’t like the route running. I don’t think he’s sudden. Every catch he makes is contested. He’s not polished. He has a lot of work to do and you can go on and on and on with the negatives.

“The bottom line is he can do a few things that most guys can’t and when you have a player like that with his size, with his straight line speed, with his ability to go up and get the ball and his rare ball skills and I say rare ... I think he’s in the top 2-3 of all the receivers in this class. When the ball is in the air, it is his and I love that about him.”

McShay did believe Jeffery greatly helped himself with a strong performance at this past Wednesday’s Pro Day at Williams-Brice Stadium. After declining to run the 40-yard dash at last month’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Ind., a more svelte Jeffery posted two runs in Columbia which averaged around 4.5 seconds.

“With Alshon, I think (Pro Day) was all positive,” McShay said. “I think that it really was. The fact that he was 216, if I remember, at the Combines and then was down to 213. He lost a few more pounds which was good because there were some people that were concerned that maybe it was kind of a Jenny Craig diet if you will. Shed the pounds and not necessarily be in the best shape for the Combine. But then, a few weeks after the Combine, he comes in good shape and stronger and all that. So, I think he’s proven that he can carry that weight if he’s willing to focus on it and works at being in good shape. I think running the time that he did only can help him and the fact that he can run down the field and go up and make plays is what I like.”

McShay also provided a brief analysis of South Carolina State free safety Christian Thompson. The Auburn University transfer has seen his draft stock increase since a strong showing at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Although McShay acknowledged having seen just two tapes on Thompson, he sees him as a late round selection.

“When I look at him, he’s got the size-speed combination. Ran I think the fastest time of all the safeties at the Combine (4.50 seconds). He’s very aggressive against the run. He’ll come up and hit you. He’s got a lot of technical work to do from what I’ve seen. He gets lost in the run game sometimes. Impatient in pass coverage and kind of get out of position and these are things he needs to work on.

“He wants to work at it, he’s got a chance to make a roster and can develop as a safety at the back end of a roster.”

Contact the writer: tgrant@timesanddemocrat.com or by calling (803) 533-5547. For more information about S.C. State athletics, visit www.thebulldogzone.com. Follow him on Twitter@TandDSports

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