There are pros and cons to spending a season allocated by an NFL team in NFL Europe. On the plus side, it’s a chance to get more reps and pro-style coaching. On the downside, the league is generally made up of marginal talent for the NFL, not the true cream-of-the-crop rising young stars. The ten-week season can also leave players a little worn out when they report to training camp with the big club.
Still, for a player looking for a shot, it’s an opportunity to be seen and get a chance.
Here’s a closer look at the four players the Vikings allocated to NFL Europe this summer:
WR Justin Surrency
(5112, 183, 4.53-4.61) Northern Iowa
A native of St. Paul, Minn., he attended Concordia Academy. He had a modestly productive college career at Northern Iowa, catching 46-686-7 (14.9 avg.) as a junior, and 47-663-7 (14.1 avg.) as a senior. He was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Seattle Seahawks in 2006. He made it to the final roster cut with the Seahawks but was released prior to the start of the regular-season. He signed with the Vikings following the 2006 season after working out for the team in October.
Allocated to the Amsterdam Admirals, he caught 31-288-2 (9.3 avg.) with a long catch of just 19 yards. His best single-game performance came in Week 8 when he had 12 catches for 113 and one touchdown.
Surrency lacks any truly outstanding characteristic in terms of great size or speed, but he’s a productive receiver who’s quick and shifty with reliable hands, toughness and durability. He’s a smart kid who is fairly advanced in some of the nuances of the game, but he will have a hard time standing out against NFL competition in camp.
CB Jerron Wishom
(5116, 193, 4.51-4.56) Louisiana Tech
Originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Houston Texans in 2005, he was subsequently waived in training camp. Spent most of the 2005 season on the practice squad with Green Bay and was promoted to the active roster in late-November, 2005. The Packers assigned him to Hamburg in NFL Europe in 2006 and he went through training camp with them last season but was released on the final cut. Had a tryout with Seattle in November. Signed with the Vikings in January, 2007.
Assigned to Cologne for 2007, he started at left cornerback and finished the season with 25 tackles, 13 pass breakups and one interception returned 34 yards.
Wishom has nice size, adequate speed and is a fluid athlete. He shows good awareness in zone coverage and would appear to have very good tools for the Cover-2 scheme the Vikings prefer. He plays better breaking on the ball and reacting quickly than running stride-for-stride with receivers in man-coverage. He's also aggressive on run support and a solid, wrap-up tackler. Depending on the numbers and possible injuries in training camp, he could legitimately compete for a backup cornerback spot in training camp with the Vikings this summer.
OT Jimmy Martin
(6050, 306, 5.16-5.28) Virginia Tech
A durable, consistent four-year starter with the Hokies, Martin was a seventh-round draft pick by the San Diego Chargers in 2006. He ran a 1.80 10-yard dash, a 3.03 20-yard dash, a 5.16-5.28 40-yard dash, posted a 32-inch vertical jump, a 9'-2" broad jump, 4.47 short-shuttle and a 7.84 3-cone drill time. He also recorded 26 reps at 225 pounds. Waived on the final roster cutdown by the Chargers, he was signed to the Vikings practice squad early last season. He was later released and re-signed a couple times during the year.
Allocated to the Rhein Fire, Martin started all ten games at left tackle this summer.
Martin has some size potential and moves his feet pretty well. He shows some skills as a pass protector in that he plays with good balance, adjusts to counter moves and games from the defense. As a run blocker, he lacks pop and explosiveness but generally maintains position and seals off effectively. He could eventually make it as a backup and has enough versatility to essentially play any spot along the offensive line. The key for him will be how he matches up against true NFL power, quickness and speed.
DT Alex Guerrero
(6011, 303, 5.05-5.14) Boise State
Guerrero did 25 reps at 225 pounds, posted a 33-inch vertial jump, an 8'-6" broad jump, a 4.33 short-shuttle and a 7.56 3-cone drill time working out for scouts last year. Originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Chiefs in 2006, he was subsequently released in training camp. Picked up by Seattle, he was released by the Seahawks in late-August 2006. Signed by Vikings to practice squad in November 2006.
Assigned to Rhein Fire for 2007, he recorded 9 tackles before injuring his knee and missing the rest of the NFL Europe season. He is expected to be fully recovered in time for training camp with the Vikings in about a month.
Guerrero is a one-gap inside defensive lineman with good initial quickness, high motor and intensity. He can make some penetration and be disruptive at times but lacks any truly outstanding physical characteristic to stand out. He will have an uphill battle moving up on the Vikings' depth chart this summer, but will work hard and give 110%.
In the end, all four players the Vikings allocated to NFL Europe this summer will be longshots to make it, but Wishom and Martin probably have the best chance to crack the opening day 53-man roster if they continue to improve.