Although quarterback Matt Barkley was the featured attraction Wednesday at USC’s pro day, receiver Robert Woods is the player quietly rising on several draft boards.
Some of the NFL evaluators who had projected Woods as a second- or third-round pick during last season now see him as a potential pick in the second half of the first round.
Woods had several nice catches Wednesday, including a one-handed grab of a deep pass by Barkley.
“I’m doing the same stuff I did in college,” Woods said. “I guess people are just catching up on me.”
George Stewart, receivers coach for the Minnesota Vikings, spoke to Woods’ parents after the workout and stood nearby while reporters gathered around the receiver for a group interview.
“We’re a character organization from ownership on down,” Stewart said. “I had a chance to visit with [Woods’] mom and dad, and they’re character people. Those are the type of people who will turn an organization, character people. That’s a premium for us.”
The Vikings, who have the 23rd and 25th picks in the first round, left a void in their offense this off-season with their trade of receiver Percy Harvin to Seattle. This is the time of year when teams put up smoke screens and are especially secretive of their intentions, but Minnesota gave every impression Wednesday that it is interested in Woods.
Last year, the Vikings drafted a pair of USC players, tackle Matt Kalil and running back Rhett Ellison, and earlier this month they signed former Trojans quarterback Matt Cassel.
“We’re very interested in guys who can make plays,” Stewart said. “But character first and foremost is what we’re interested in, and [Woods] has that.”
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