Minnesota Vikings: Vikings Should Pursue Olympic Sprinter Jeff Demps

Drew Tull@@drewtullContributor IIAugust 14, 2012

Former UF Gator RB & Olympic Champion Jeff Demps
Former UF Gator RB & Olympic Champion Jeff DempsAl Messerschmidt/Getty Images

In a time when the NFL is full of less-than-desirable free-agent options, the league may have just gotten a potential game-breaking weapon.

The former University of Florida football and Olympic track star Jeff Demps has filed his paperwork with the NFL to pursue a football career, and the Minnesota Vikings should be paying attention.

Just a few days after winning an Olympic silver medal on Team USA's 4x100 relay, the former Gator will strap on some shoulder pads.

Suddenly, an extremely fast free agent is available with almost two weeks before first cuts are due.

As a collegiate sprinter, he earned NCAA titles in the 60-meter dash indoors and the 100-meter dash outdoors.

As a collegiate football player, he gained 2,470 rushing yards and had 23 touchdowns.

He was also a kick returner with 28.8 yards per return for the Gators.

Demps went undrafted in the 2012 NFL draft after telling teams he would be a full-time track athlete. 

But now, the 5'8", 190-pounder is available to any team willing to give him a chance.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are "seriously interested" and envision him as a slot receiver/running back hybrid who can also help on kickoff returns.

This past Friday showed a very average but solid kick return effort from the Vikings' Marcus Sherels and Stephon Burton.  

The Vikings also have rookies Jarius Wright and Josh Robinson, who were drafted for their position skills and have electric speed, but we are still early enough in the preseason to bring a player like Demps, who has world-class speed, into the mix.

Robinson is still expected to challenge for a significant role in the secondary, but has been bothered by a hamstring injury.  

With the season-ending injury to Greg Childs, the Vikings will be looking for a increased role from the fourth-round draft pick, Jarius Wright.

Here is the NFLmock.com scouting report on Demps who projected a 40-yard dash time between 4.18-4.38.

Scouting Report

Jeff Demps is flat out one of the fastest men in sports right now, regardless of what level. Demps has Olympic track star speed, and translates that on to the field. Last year, he led the Gators with 551 rushing yards, and is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Demps has 17 career rushing touchdowns, and has averaged 7.5, 7.0, and 6.0 yards per carry throughout his Gators career. He has had some injuries, which have prevented him from being a top tier runner in college football, but he definitely has game-breaking speed and could be a great change of pace back at the next level, and also has potential possibly as a slot wide receiver and return specialist.Demps is the fastest track athlete in college right now (9.85 second 100 meter dash) and could challenge for the fastest recorded 40 yard dash time in the history of the league at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine.  Runs really low, which works to his advantage. He’s got a great build for a shorter back at 5’7″ and closing in on 200 pounds. He has elite quickness and while he can be engulfed by defenders at times, he is not easy to track down. Threat to score every time he touches the ball. Turns the corner with ease and can change direction on a dime. His speed is not overrated. He will make your mouth drop when you see some of his runs.

PROS: Speed is his greatest asset, quickness, elusive in the open field, hits the hole hard, turns the corner with ease, potential as a return specialist, despite height, has pretty good overall size, threat to score every time he touches the ball

CONS: Injury history, might not be an every-down back at the next level, doesn’t have great numbers in the passing game

Demps is low-risk/high-reward prospect, and Vikings GM Rick Spielman should be working the phones to bring him, at least, in for a workout.