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 15th, and there are 90 days until kickoff for the 2020 regular season. That means it's time to look at a young defensive end who seems like a longshot to make the roster.
Countdown to Vikings-Packers on September 13th: 90 Days
Player Preview: Stacy Keely (No. 90, Defensive End)
- College: Alabama Birmingham (UAB)
- Drafted: Undrafted
- NFL experience: One year on Vikings practice squad
- Age: 25 (Birthday was in May)
- Size: 6'6", 250
- 2019 PFF Grade: N/A
- Notable 2019 stats: N/A (2 tackles last preseason)
For the first time in our countdown of every player in the roster, we've reached a roster longshot without any NFL experience. Stacy Keely was signed by the Vikings in May 2019 after impressing at the team's rookie minicamp. His length and athleticism turned heads within the building, but Keely still has a long way to go if he's ever going to see action during the regular season.
A big part of Keely's journey over the last year with the Vikings has been adding weight and muscle to his frame. When he participated in that rookie tryout, he had just 220 pounds on his 6'6" frame. Three months later, when Keely was seeing some snaps during the preseason, he was already up to 250 pounds. According to Vikings.com, a focus on the weight room and nutrition helped Keely gain 30 pounds in a short time span.
Keely appeared in all four games of the preseason, though he only recorded two tackles. Still, the Vikings liked his upside enough to use one of their ten practice squad spots to keep him around. In January of this year, Keely signed a reserve/future contract with the Vikings.
Keely took an unorthodox path to the NFL. Attending high school in Omaha, NE, he was a four-sport athlete and won two Nebraska state titles in the high jump. He began his college football career as a tight end at South Dakota State, but moved to defensive end when he transferred to Iowa Western Community College. Keely then transferred to UAB, where he spent two seasons helping resurrect a program that had been discontinued a few years earlier. During his time in Birmingham, Keely recorded 5.0 sacks, two forced fumbles, and 43 total tackles.
In 2020, Keely's best-case scenario is probably to once again stick around on the practice squad and continue developing. His length and athleticism are interesting (Keely ran a 4.81 40 with a 123-inch broad jump at UAB's pro day in 2019), but he'll have to impress in training camp just to secure one of the 12 practice squad spots (raised from ten under the new CBA). Keely might have to beat out players like Eddie Yarbrough, Kenny Willekes, and Anthony Zettel to continue his football career in Minnesota.
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