The Vikings officially announced the signing of 11 undrafted free agents on Wednesday. That brings the roster to 84 players, leaving six more spots.
It's an interesting UDFA class for a number of reasons. The focuses were clearly at wide receiver and on special teams, as over half of the group is either a WR or specialist. There are also some interesting defensive linemen, a linebacker who was a three-time Ohio State captain, and a running back.
Here's a look at the full class. I wrote about most of them in this tracker as the reports of their signings first came out.
- East Carolina WR Blake Proehl
- Indiana WR Whop Philyor
- UAB WR Myron Mitchell
- Memphis K Riley Patterson
- LSU P Zach Von Rosenberg
- San Diego State LS Turner Bernard
- Idaho LB Christian Elliss
- Cal DE Zeandae Johnson
- Oregon DT Jordon Scott
- Ohio State LB Tuf Borland
- Kentucky RB A.J. Rose Jr.
Here are three questions I'll be following regarding this group going forward. The Vikings' rookie minicamp will take place from May 14-16, with voluntary offseason workouts after that and training camp coming in August.
1. Can any of the receivers make the team?
The Vikings drafted Iowa's Ihmir Smith-Marsette in the fifth round to compete for their kick returner job and potentially emerge as a big-play threat at the No. 3 receiver spot. But it made sense for them to add more depth to that position group, as the Vikings don't have any established options behind Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. There's room for one of the undrafted guys to step up and beat out someone like Chad Beebe, Bisi Johnson, or K.J. Osborn for a roster spot.
I think Proehl has the best shot. The son of former NFL wideout Ricky Proehl, Blake is an excellent athlete who had some big games in college. He posted a line of six catches, 152 yards, and two touchdowns in his final collegiate game, which came three weeks after he dropped 13/182/2 on Tulane. Proehl also could factor into the punt returner competition.
Mitchell is a former JuCo transfer who had 1,000 yards and 7 touchdowns over the past two seasons at UAB. Philyor has a great nickname and had a 1,000-yard season for Indiana in 2019; he's a shifty underneath receiver with a lot of toughness after the catch. I'm just worried that his lack of athleticism will be difficult to overcome.
2. Who wins the specialist battles?
After landing a trio of specialists in their UDFA class, the Vikings are set to have competition at all three spots.
The most notable one will be at kicker, where journeyman veteran Greg Joseph will go against Patterson. The rookie out of Memphis has a big leg, with a career long field goal of 56 yards. He had a great season in 2019, making 23 of 25 attempts, including five of six from 50-plus. 2020 was a little shakier for Patterson, as he made just 15 of 22 field goals, but five of those misses came from 50-plus. Clearly Memphis had a lot of confidence in sending him out for long kicks.
Von Rosenberg, a 30-year-old with a fascinating backstory, will try to beat out veteran Britton Colquitt for the punter job, and Bernard will take on Andrew De Paola at long snapper. The Vikings have little to no guaranteed money tied up in any of the veteran specialists, so the UDFAs should have a real shot to win those jobs.
3. Will any of the defensive players stand out?
Don't sleep on the four defensive players in this group: Elliss, Scott, Borland, and Johnson.
Elliss is the son of former Lions Pro Bowl defensive tackle Luther Elliss. He had 104 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and an interception playing outside linebacker for Idaho in 2019 and has a very interesting athletic profile.
On the other end of the athletic spectrum at linebacker is Borland, who was a key leader for the Buckeyes. He's only the second three-time captain in OSU history. Borland plays with a lot of grit, intelligence, and instincts, but he simply may not have the speed to make it at LB in the modern NFL.
Scott is an interesting prospect as a short, powerful nose tackle. He has some serious strength and could be a practice squad guy for DT depth. Johnson played five years for Cal and doesn't seem to have a ton of upside.
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