Vikings Make Splashes with Undrafted Free Agents

0
1055
Sep 23, 2017; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars defensive lineman Hercules Mata'afa (50) celebrates a sack during a game against the Nevada Wolf Pack at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2017; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars defensive lineman Hercules Mata'afa (50) celebrates a sack during a game against the Nevada Wolf Pack at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

After filling a handful of needs through the draft, the Vikings got busy right away in signing some of the hottest undrafted free agents. Within a couple hours of the final pick, Minnesota made multiple splashes, signing several players who many thought could have gone much higher. It is tough to say a team “wins” undrafted free agency. The odds of a lot of these players making the 53-man roster are slim. But no one would begrudge anyone who said the Vikings came away with the best post-draft haul. Let’s take a look at the new additions.

Offense

RB Roc Thomas, Jacksonville State

The Vikings did not address running back in the draft, but they went after it threefold in free agency. Thomas is the most intriguing of the three. He was a five-star recruit out of high school and started his career at Auburn before transferring to Jacksonville State. He could have a career as a change-of-pace back if he improves patience.

RB Kamryn Pettway, Auburn

Pettway is a power back, through and through. He is not particularly fast or elusive, but he has some potential as a short-yardage back or perhaps a fullback. Word from Auburn, however, is that he is has maturity issues, which could explain his drop in carries and yards per game from 2016 to 2017.

RB Mike Boone, Cincinnati

Boone is a workout warrior who put up great numbers at the Cincinnati pro day. Because of that, there is some optimism he could become a special teams contributor. As a running back, Boone has good, explosive leg drive, but lacks the big play ability one would hope from a back of his athleticism.

WR Jake Wieneke, South Dakota State

The Maple Grove native was a candidate for a late-round selection, but ultimately the Vikings secured one of their back-end targets in free agency. Wieneke will never impress as possession or speed guy, but he has the size, hands and high ball ability to be a good red zone threat. The question will be whether he provides enough special teams value to make the roster and eventually earn offensive snaps.

WR Jeff Badet, Oklahoma

Badet may have nabbed himself an NFL job from his pro day alone. He ran an ungodly 4.27 40-yard dash and also just missed hitting 40 inches on his vertical. Badet may not have the qualities necessary to play receiver long-term, but that speed should get him some looks as a return man.

WR Korey Robertson, Southern Mississippi

Robertson is the exact opposite of Badet. While Badet has speed but lacks size and aggression, Robertson is a thick receiver who plays with strength over speed. He lacks athleticism to make a lot of plays downfield, but he is also not as straight-line slow as Wieneke. There is a little bit more upside as a receiver with Robertson.

Latest From FPC on SportsCastr

TE Tyler Hoppes, Nebraska

The Vikings drafted a combo tight end in Tyler Conklin and possess three tight ends on the roster already. As such, the odds of Hoppes making the roster are slim. He does, however, have decent size and some athleticism, so a good training camp could perhaps bump one of the other tight ends from the 53.

Defense

DL Hercules Mata’afa, Washington State

Mata’afa was one of the most coveted free agencts due to his pure ability to wreak havoc inside. The issue with Mata’afa was that he is a tweener: He was a defensive tackle in college, but at 250, is far too small to play there in the pros. And he does not quite have the quick pass rush ability to be a consistent edge guy. However, his quick get off and pure desire to cause trouble could make him a fan favorite if he makes the roster.

DT Curtis Cothran, Penn State

Cothran’s greatest attributes are his size and his quickness. Unfortunately, he does not play as big as he is and is easily washed out of plays by down blocks, double teams and even one-on-one blocks. He will have to be able to compensate with strong hand play if he is to make the 53-man roster.

Edge Garret Dooley, Wisconsin

Wisconsin has churned out some solid pass-rushers, and Dooley was highly productive his last year as a Badger. He recorded six sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss coming off the edge. Unfortunately, he likely lacks the athletic traits to be a consistent pressure threat. His best chance is probably to add weight (which he may have already maxed out) and bump inside to three-technique.

S Tray Matthews, Auburn

Matthews may be the quintessential special teams acquisition. He has speed that is not elite, but still decent. He has exceptional instincts as a tackler. And by all indications, he has an aggressive and passionate football mentality. Matthews’ potential as a safety seems limited, but he will almost certainly have a place on an NFL roster.

CB Holton Hill, Texas

This is the big one. Some viewed Hill as a third-round talent who would fall to the fifth due to off-field concerns. As it turned out, those concerns left Hill off the board entirely. San Francisco and Minnesota were the top candidates, but he ultimately chose Mike Zimmer and Company. Hill’s size and athleticism could get him some run on defensive snaps, as well as plenty of special teams opportunities. That is, assuming he stays out of trouble.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.