Cornerback Kendall James became the 15th University of Maine football player to be drafted by an NFL team when the Minnesota Vikings took him in the sixth round Saturday.
The Vikings, who surrendered an NFL-worst 480 points last season, made defense a priority in the draft. Seven of their 10 picks were defensive players, including James, who was chosen 184th overall. Two picks earlier, the Vikings drafted Virginia Tech cornerback Antone Exum. In the seventh round, Minnesota took cornerback Jabari Price of North Carolina.
James had 36 tackles and two interceptions as a senior and certainly doesn’t lack confidence.
“I can bring that toughness to them,” he told Minnesota reporters. “I’m just an all-around great cover corner.”
James, a 5-foot-10, 180-pounder from Roselle, N.J., was praised by ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.
“Kendall James is a guy I liked all year. Teams were reluctant to throw at James,” Kiper said, lauding his speed. “Kendall James has NFL ability.”
James demonstrated a 39-inch vertical leap at the NFL scouting combine. But there are questions about his strength. He bench-pressed 225 pounds just nine times, one of the lowest totals by a defensive back.
He figures to be used on special teams and in nickel situations for the Vikings, who finished 5-10-1 last year, then replaced Coach Leslie Frazier with Mike Zimmer.
“I know he likes to put a lot of D-backs on the field and to let them roam around,” James said of his new coach.
James was the first Black Bear drafted since Jerron McMillian by the Green Bay Packers in the fourth round in 2012. James was the 26th cornerback chosen in this year’s draft. He stands to get a signing bonus of $113,452. His contract won’t be guaranteed.
But his elation at being drafted was evident. He tweeted:
“Wow..I’m a Viking! God is so good !”
BLACK BEARS tight end Justin Perillo signed a free-agent contract with the Green Bay Packers moments after the draft.
The Delaware native caught 39 passes for 490 yards and four touchdowns last season.
“Maine prepped me to be a versatile player. I can play tight end, I can play H-back, I can be the long snapper, whatever they’re looking for,” Perillo said.
Perillo, who is 6-3, 250, said he also weighed an offer from the Detroit Lions, but his agent told him Green Bay was the better opportunity. The Packers need to replace Jermichael Finley.
Perillo will fly to Green Bay on Sunday and participate in a team workout Monday.
“I have no idea what to expect. I’m just ready to work hard and be part of the team,” he said.