Vikings' pick at No. 128: Southern Cal tight end Rhett Ellison
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Bill Musgrave has another tight end to work with.
The Minnesota Vikings used the 128th overall pick in the fourth round of the NFL Draft on Southern California tight end Rhett Ellison, who also has played fullback and fits the H-back mold Musgrave likes.
In four seasons at USC, Ellison (6-foot-4 7/8, 251 pounds) had 53 catches for 471 yards and six touchdowns.
"I pretty much did whatever they needed me to do," Ellison said. "A lot of movement stuff, a lot of motion stuff for defensive recognition, they liked me in there for pass protection to protect (Matt) Barkley and a lot of outlet passes. They liked me at the point of attack on runs and run blocking so they just kind of used me wherever they could."
Ellison said he can play both H-back and tight end, meaning he could help replace the retired Jim Kleinsasser. "Whatever works," Ellison said of his role.
Ellison was limited at the NFL scouting combine because of a right pectoral injury and a left calf strain but was timed as low as 4.78 seconds in the 40-yard dash and had 31½-inch vertical.
Ellison said he wasn't expecting to get drafted and was so overcome with emotion when the Vikings called that he started crying.
"I was pretty shocked and I'm still trying to calm everything down right now," he said.
Ellison was spending the day with friends and family but decided to go out on the river to get a break when the Vikings called.
"They asked me if I was watching TV and I said, 'No, I'm not watching,'" Ellison said. "They said, 'Well, you're about to be a Minnesota Viking.' They put me on the phone with everybody and I was crying pretty hard so I don't know if they understood anything I was saying. I'm going to give them a call back later."
Ellison said the Vikings did show interest in him at the combine in February and he had a formal interview with the team.
Ellison's father, Riki, played linebacker for four seasons at USC and then in the NFL with San Francisco (1983-89) and the Los Angeles Raiders (1990-92). Ellison said his father cautioned him that he should prepare for another career. Ellison is finishing up his master's degree in communication management and has an undergraduate degree in international relations.
Asked if Vikings' first-round pick Matt Kalil put in a good word for him, Ellison said: "I can not wait to play with Kalil again. He's one of my favorite guys on the team, one of my best friends on the team and I really can't wait."
• 40-yard dash: 4.88 seconds.
• Broad jump: 109 inches.
• Vertical jump: 31½ inches.
• Arm length: 32¾ inches.
• Hand size: 10¼ inches.