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WMU’s Beavers goes to Vikings, gives up Lions fandom

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Willie Beavers

Allen Park – One thing for sure, he’s not a Lions fan anymore.

Offensive tackle Willie Beavers is headed to the NFL, but with the Minnesota Vikings, a team Beavers rooted against growing up while cheering on his hometown Lions.

“I’m not a Lions fan anymore,” Beavers said during a teleconference Saturday, after being drafted in the fourth round (121st overall) by the Vikings. “I’m a Vikings fan. I’m a Vikings guy.

“I’m so happy right now I can’t even believe it.”

The Southfield native – Beavers attended Southfield-Lathrup – is the highest Western Michigan draft pick since Louis Delmas (Lions, 2009).

Beavers is a 6-foot-4, 324-pounder who was projected to get picked anywhere from the third to fifth round.

Beavers started every game his final three seasons with the Broncos and was named All-Mid American Conference first team in 2015.

Beavers showed his versatility by also playing guard at the Senior Bowl.

“At the Senior Bowl I showed my versatility, so wherever they put me on the offensive line I’ll be good,” Beavers said.

Beavers helped lead the Broncos to 204.6 yards rushing per game, second-best in the MAC and ranked 29th in the country.

But there likely will be a developmental period in the NFL.

“Willie Beavers is an under-the-radar kid who can play, but he’ll need some time to get ready,” said Mike Mayock, NFL Network analyst.

Beavers met with Vikings coaches at the combine, including his new head coach Mike Zimmer and offensive line coach Tony Sparano.

“They’re all awesome guys,” Beavers said. “I got a chance to meet with the offensive line coach (Sparano) at the combine and at the Senior Bowl and he’s an awesome dude. I can’t wait to get to work for him.”

An aggressive lineman, Beavers has a powerful base and has a thick lower body.

Twitter @tkulfan