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87 Days Until Vikings Football: Nakia Griffin-Stewart Player Preview

Can the Vikings UDFA tight end stick around on the roster or practice squad?

As we count down the days until the Vikings' opener against the Packers on September 13th, InsideTheVikings will be previewing every single player on the roster. The amount of days remaining corresponds with the jersey number of the player being examined on that day. Today is June 18th, and there are 87 days until kickoff for the 2020 regular season. That means today's player preview looks at an undrafted free agent tight end.

Countdown to Vikings-Packers on September 13th: 87 Days

Player Preview: Nakia Griffin-Stewart (No. 87, Tight End)

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  • College: Pittsburgh and Rutgers
  • Drafted: 2020 UDFA
  • NFL experience: N/A
  • Age: 23 (Turns 24 in November)
  • Size: 6'5", 260
  • 2019 PFF Grade: N/A
  • Notable 2019 stats (NCAA): 19 catches, 185 yards, 1 touchdown
  • Notable career stats (NCAA): 32 catches, 282 yards, 2 touchdowns

The Vikings had success with an undrafted free agent tight end last year when they picked up Brandon Dillon out of Marian University. Dillon led the team in receiving yards in the preseason and made the 53-man roster out of training camp (though he spent most of the season on the practice squad).

One year later, Rick Spielman and company are hoping that they found another diamond in the rough at an important position. The UDFA tight end they added in 2020 is Nakia Griffin-Stewart, a blocking-first player with some upside as a receiver. 

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Griffin-Stewart attended Tenafly High School in New Jersey, just a 30-minute drive from MetLife Stadium, home of the Jets and Giants. In high school, he was a two-way star who played tight end, receiver, defensive end, outside linebacker, and even some safety. A three-star recruit, he committed to play his college ball at nearby Rutgers University.

Griffin-Stewart sat for his first two years at Rutgers before playing in all 12 games as a redshirt sophomore in 2017. That year, he totaled 11 catches for 87 yards and a touchdown, including this highlight-reel grab:

Griffin-Stewart had just two catches in 2018. He decided to grad transfer to Pitt for the 2019 season, and had his most productive season as a receiver, recording 19 catches for 185 yards and his second collegiate touchdown.

The numbers aren't eye-popping, but that's because Griffin-Stewart was mostly used as a blocking tight end during his college career and is still developing as a receiver. Unfortunately, Pitt had to cancel its pro day because of the coronavirus pandemic, so there's no data on Griffin-Stewart's athletic profile.

Still, the Vikings clearly saw enough upside to give him a shot. It made sense to bring in another tight end this year, considering that David Morgan was released with a failed physical designation in March. Morgan was a blocking-first tight end, so Griffin-Stewart could fill that role if he's able to make the team or practice squad.

The Vikings currently have just five tight ends on their roster: starters Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr., and depth options Tyler Conklin, Dillon, and Griffin-Stewart. They'll presumably keep three on the 53-man roster and a fourth on the practice squad for depth purposes. That means that Griffin-Stewart will have to beat out Conklin or Dillon for a spot. However, given how important tight ends are in Gary Kubiak's offense and the fact that practice squads have expanded to 12, it's possible all five TEs stick around in some form.

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