Nine days ago, the NFL's Minnesota Vikings selected former UConn defensive lineman Shamar Stephen in the seventh round. He was the first Husky to be taken in the 2014 draft (Yawin Smallwood was taken by the Falcons a shot time later), and now he's completed three-day rookie minicamp with his new team.
First-year Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was asked about Stephen during a post-practice media session. Via Vikings.com:
Q: What do you see from Shamar Stephen?
A: Yeah he’s been out here a couple of days and he’s got some good power with him. I think he’s going to be a bigger guy once he gets a little more into the weight program, but he’s got great quickness, great quick hands. He’s got a chance down the road too.
Q: He’s already at 300, do you see a weight you want him at?
A: Well I think he can develop a little more in his upper body. I haven’t talked to the strength coaches about weights and where we want them to be at and where they can get to at this point. We’ll have that conversation probably in the next two weeks.
In Stephen's pre-draft scouting report, his weaknesses included: "Needs to go to school on blocking schemes and learn to fight pressure. Could stand to play with more violence in his hands -- feels his way through plays instead of imposing force. Linear, vanilla rusher (just five career sacks). Moved by double teams. Compete level leaves something to be desired. Disappears for stretches."
Put another way: Seventh-rounders are usually long shots to make the final roster because a) NFL rosters have so much depth and b) the team doesn't have much invested in a late-round pick. That said, Stephen has the entire summer -- including training camp and four preseason games -- to impress the coaching staff. If it all goes well, he'll be among the final 53 players on the regular-season roster.