#47, Arkee Whitlock, RB
(5092, 203, 4.42-4.68) Southern Illinois
Personal: Born May 10, 1984, the son of Lawrence and Beverly Whitlock. Cousin, Donkay DeGraffenreid, was a teammate and safety at Southern Illinois (2006-present). Didn't play running back until his senior year in high school as he was behind Chris Hope (Steelers, Titans) on the depth chart. Led the team in tackles as a junior middle linebacker. Lives in Rock Hill, S.C.
College: Redshirted in 2002. Began his college career at Coffeyville Community College, where he carried the ball 188 times for 1,383 yards (6.1 avg.) and 17 touchdowns in 2003. Transferred to SIU, where he was the team's second-leading rusher with 959 yards on 151 carries (6.4 avg.) with 12 touchdowns, while catching 10 passes for 135 yards and one TD. First-Team All-Gateway Conference as a junior, rushing for 1,454 yards on 269 carries (5.4 avg.) and 14 TDs, catching 24-190 in 2005. Ripped off 1,828 yards on 317 carries (5.8 avg.) with 25 TDs and caught 6-63 in 2006. Rushed for over 100 yards in 10-of-13 games this past season, including surpassing the 200-yard mark threee times. Whitlock also returned 41 kickoffs for 972 yards (23.7 avg.) at SIU and collected 14 tackles on special teams. Majored in speech communications.
Pro: Did 16 reps at 225 pounds, ran a 1.54 10-yard dash, 2.63 20-yard dash, posted a 33 1/2" vertical-jump, a 9'-2" broad-jump, 4.31 20-yard shuttle and 7.07 3-cone drill time in workouts prior to the draft. Forty times were generally 4.58-4.68, but he has been clocked as fast as 4.42. Had his pro day March 19. Developed a good rapport with Vikings' running backs coach Eric Bienemy then. Vikings beat out the Cleveland Browns, San Diego Chargers, Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts to land him. Signed a four-year contract with the Vikings as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2007 draft.
Positives: Exceptional productivity in all aspects of the game and proven to be effective as a runner, receiver, blocker, kickoff returner and even making tackles on kick coverage. Passionate about the game. Works very hard and is an unselfish, team-oriented player. Quick, darting, instinctive runner who plays faster than he times. Good moves, cutback skills and elusiveness. Sees the field well and is adept at finding running lanes to maneuver for yardage. Short, but muscular frame and strong upper body. Good balance and determination. Tough and aggressive runner. Will play hurt and has been durable. Good ball security.
Negatives: Lacks top size and size potential. Has thin legs. Does not have top-end breakaway speed to run away from pro defenders. Overall limitations in terms of size, power and speed.
Summary: Whitlock enters training camp with the Vikings as a longshot to make the team, especially with the depth and talent on the roster. But he will be a difficult player to cut. He is just another camp body in terms of his size-speed ratio, but his productivity is too significant to overlook. It will be interesting to see how far he can go.
What they said:
"I think I fit in well. They have a similar back to me right now in Chester Taylor. He's a lot older than me and he's a similar type back. I think it's a good tandem, all three of us...They [Vikings] were very impressed with my productivity throughout my career at Southern Illinois." – Whitlock
"More quick than fast, instinctive runner who may have a chance to stick as a third-down back and special-teams contributor." - Nolan Nawrocki, Pro Football Weekly