Minnesota Vikings Undrafted Free Agents: Need-to-Know Info for Every Signee
Through multiple moves, the Minnesota Vikings closed out their 2014 NFL draft by making ten selections. The defensive side of the ball got the focus with seven of the ten picks, with depth and competition being the focus.
The acquisition of Teddy Bridgewater is the story on the offensive side of the ball—if not their entire draft. Minnesota moved up the board to go and get their quarterback. They used middle round picks on a running back and offensive guard as well.
By most accounts, the amount of talent that didn't get drafted this year is at an all-time high. A record 98 underclassmen declaring has a lot to do with that. All teams will be on the market for undrafted free agents. These are the ones the Vikings snatched up at the conclusion of the draft.
Kain Colter, WR, Northwestern
Kain Colter will remain in purple. He was one of the first undrafted free agents to sign with Minnesota, per his agent on twitter:
Colter was the hallmark player for the Wildcats for the majority of his collegiate career. He featured as a dual-threat quarterback, and he made his biggest impact on the ground as a runner.
A transition to the wide receiver position was always inevitable, Colter even played receiver for Northwestern in spot duty as a senior. He only ended up catching three passes for a single touchdown, according to ESPN.
The Senior Bowl was where Colter made it clear he could handle the new position full time. He showed fine physicality in his route running and fought for the ball in the air. He catches it instinctively and with soft hands.
Colter factors in as competition for only one or two available spots on the Vikings' final roster at his position. If indeed he makes it, his value will be from the slot. His sharp footwork and low center of gravity make sense for the variety of routes a slot receiver must run.
Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
"Tiny" Richardson falling out of the draft entirely was one of the bigger surprises from Saturday's event as he was widely considered a second- or third-day prospect coming into the weekend.
After starting for two seasons at left tackle for the Volunteers, Richardson made the leap to the NFL. He would have benefited from another year in college, at least from a football standpoint.
Richardson has the size, physicality and nasty demeanor for offensive line play. He was a dominant left tackle at times during his collegiate career, the problem was that consistency was hard to come by and his focus came and went. There were entire games when he seemed either too charged up or not at all.
Discipline as a blocker is his biggest downfall. He tends to play overaggressive, lunging as a blocker and leaving his balance point. From a technical standpoint, there's a lot of work to do, though the Vikings will be intrigued by his size and functional strength.
A.C. Leonard, TE, Tennessee State
The Vikings added one of the most athletically talented tight ends in the entire draft in Tennessee State's A.C. Leonard.
AC Leonard, TE, Tennesse State to Vikings— Mike Loyko (@NEPD_Loyko) May 11, 2014
The Vikings official website has also confirmed the news.
Concern over character is the only legitimate reason for Leonard to fall completely out of the draft. He left the Florida Gators football program in 2012 after pleading no contest to misdemeanor battery. Leonard landed at Tennessee State where he played for two seasons and declared for the draft a year early.
A.C. Leonard was one of the stars at the combine in February. He posted a 4.50-second 40-yard dash, 34-inch vertical, and 128-inch broad jump—impressive numbers for a tight end. He has a shorter, thicker build for a tight end but has long arms.
Leonard is explosive off the line of scrimmage to attack over the top but can also catch the ball underneath and pick up big yards after the catch. If he can stay on the straight and narrow, he has all the necessary talent to make the team and even contribute early.
Zac Kerin, C, Toledo
The Vikings official website has confirmed the signing of Toledo center Zac Kerin pending a physical.
Kerin was a three-year starter for the Toledo Rockets and a Civil Engineering major. He made multiple All-Mac teams and was a participant in the East-West Shrine Game in January.
Jeff Risdon of DetroitLionsDraft.com describes Kerin's demeanor in great detail.
First, he’s got an excellent punch right off the snap. His ability to jolt with his hands was very evident in watching him against MAC competition. He also flashed some effectiveness against Missouri and Florida in 2013. Second, he’s got the Dominic Raiola trait of playing with questionable legality through the whistle on every snap. In short, he’s not a fun guy to play against.
As an undrafted free agent on the offensive line, Kerin will have to fight for a position with that kind of attitude in order to hold his own.
Austin Wentworth, OG, Fresno State
Fresno State announced the signing of their own Austin Wentworth with Minnesota on twitter.
Wentworth played left tackle for the Bulldogs in an offense that featured a quick-hitting passing attack. Had he been asked to pass protect in a traditional sense, he would not have made it on the outside.
That is why he will surely transition to an offensive guard position in the NFL. Wentworth started his final two season on the blind side, but played both right tackle and right guard as a sophomore. Fresno State ran a pro-style offense under head coach Pat Hill that season as well. He has valuable experience away of the left tackle spot.
Versatility will be important for Wentworth to show. Being able to play multiple offensive line positions is a must for an undrafted free agent in an NFL with strict roster requirements.
Donte Foster, WR, Ohio
The Vikings official website has confirmed the signing of Ohio receiver Donte Foster pending a physical.
Foster had two big seasons for the Bobcats statistically and took another step forward as a senior. His 69 receptions, 1018 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2013 carried the bulk of Ohio's passing attack.
Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net had this to say about Foster's fit:
Foster did a terrific job elevating his game the past three seasons and has enough pass catching skill to get consideration as a fifth receiver in a timing or West Coast offense.
The multitude of receivers on the roster, including other undrafted free agents, will give Foster an uphill battle to make the team or the practice squad. He doesn't possess great speed to win over the top or impressive ability after the catch, so he may not be a factor.
Matt Hall, OT, Belhaven
The Vikings official website has confirmed the signing of Belhaven offensive tackle Matt Hall pending a physical.
Hall played in an NAIA football program, which means a massive leap in competition when he gets into the Vikings' program. Hall measures in at a massive 6'9" and 323 pounds, per NFL.com. Nolan Nawrocki of NFL.com had this to say about the sky-scraping tackle:
Long-limbed, thin-bodied, developmental right tackle only. Lacks the agility for the left side and the core, anchor strength desired to kick inside. Has physical traits for a patient OL coach to develop. Long-term project with limited versatility that could make it difficult to readily earn a roster spot.
Hall will be in for a battle to make the team with a few other talented offensive tackles in the works. His physical upside is intriguing though.
Erik Lora, WR, Eastern Illinois
Erik Lora was newly-drafted Patriot Jimmy Garoppolo's favorite target at Eastern Illinois and has signed with the Vikings after going undrafted.
Eastern Illinois WR Erik Lora says on Twitter he's heading to the Vikings.— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) May 10, 2014
Lora racked up impressive statistical totals in 2013. He caught 123 passes for 1544 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Size is the limitation for Lora. He's also not a long-speed specialist who can win over the top, but what he does do is win underneath to the point of always being available for his quarterback. He also made some highly impressive catches in 2013.
Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net offered some glowing praise for Lora:
Lora was consistent and very productive on the college field but comes with average measurables. In the end he's a terrific football player who should find a home as a slot receiver.
Competition for receiver spots is always heated in the NFL. That won't be any different for Lora.
Conor Boffeli, OG, Iowa
The Vikings official website has confirmed the signing of Iowa guard Conor Boffeli pending a physical.
Boffeli only started a single season for the Hawkeyes, totaling a meager 16 career starts in college. That hints at a lack of experience at the top level, which could put him behind most offensive line prospects.
Nolan Nawrocki of NFL.com described Boffeli this way:
Raw, light-framed zone blocker ideally suited for a role as a swing interior backup in a slide-movement protection scheme. Has the smarts and versatility to battle for a roster spot.
Boffeli is a peculiar fit for the Vikings as an offensive guard who doesn't top 300 pounds. He doesn't fit the prototype for the power blocking scheme that Adrian Peterson thrives in. Unless Boffeli proves to have tremendous positional versatility, he will have a tough time making the team.
Jake Snyder, DE, Virginia
Virginia defensive end Jake Snyder has signed with the Vikings, per the Virginia Football Twitter account.
Snyder started 36 games for the Cavaliers and was a team captain in 2013. At 6'4" and 270 pounds, Snyder has the size of a base defensive end in a 4-3 scheme.
He was never a sack artist for Virginia and only accumulated five during his three years of playing time. He made more of an impact making plays in the backfield against the run, with 17.5 tackles for loss over the same time period.
Snyder will have to prove his versatility as a base end and interior player to impress the Vikings' coaching staff. For an end with pass-rush limitations to make the team as an undrafted free agent, he must have value at multiple positions and be an incredibly solid run defender.
Dominique Williams, RB, Wagner
The Vikings official website has confirmed the signing of Wagner running back Dominique Williams pending a physical.
Per Wagnerathletics.com, Williams rushed for just over 1,200 yards in 2013, picking up 4.4 yards per carry. He only crossed the goal line six times as a rusher and wasn't entirely prolific as a receiver either—only catching 15 balls as a senior. Williams' stats don't paint the picture of a back who was dominant at a lower level.
NFL Draft Diamonds had this to say about the Wagner back:
While Williams is a gifted specimen at running back, the biggest attribute he has to offer at the next level is his leadership and determination. The three-time captain runs with unrelenting determination to reach the end zone on every carry despite only reaching it just six times in 2013.
Superior competition already exists on the roster, so Williams looks like a camp body more than a threat for a roster or practice squad spot.
Isame Faciane, DT, Florida International
The Vikings official website has confirmed the signing of Florida International defensive tackle Isame Faciane pending a physical.
Faciane signing with the Vikings may have been a foregone conclusion. Minnesota's defensive line coach Andre Patterson coached the Faciane and the FIU defensive line in 2013, according to Vikings.com. Patterson will know what Faciane has in store.
Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net compliments Faciane's ability:
Faciane slipped under the scouting radar despite his terrific senior campaign and offers size, growth potential, and the ability to line up as a two-gap end or 3-technique tackle.
Pierce Burton, OT, Ole Miss
The Vikings official website has confirmed the signing of Ole Miss offensive tackle Pierce Burton pending a physical.
Burton took a unique path to where he is today. He played for the San Jose State Spartans as a freshman before going the junior college route. He joined the Rebels in 2012 and started two seasons at right tackle.
Burton made major strides the past two seasons and offers the growth potential to get consideration as a backup at guard or right tackle.
Rakim Cox, DE, Villanova
The Vikings official website has confirmed the signing of Villanova defensive end Rakim Cox pending a physical.
Cox is listed at 6'4" 260 pounds on villanova.com. That's a typical frame for a 4-3 defensive end. Versatility to be effective in multiple ways will be important for Cox to show.
In an interview with NFL Draft Diamonds, Cox described his preferred usage in great detail.
In college I played in a 3-3-5 scheme as well as a 4-3. I think I would fit in a 4-3 scheme well. I can get to the passer and control the edge in the run game. We also had packages, in which, I would line up as a 3 tech and rush from the inside as well as line up as a standup end and rush the edge.
Tyler Scott, DE, Northwestern
The Vikings official website has confirmed the signing of Northwestern defensive end Tyler Scott pending a physical.
He's a long shot to make the roster at best, especially considering the current depth at the defensive end position. Per nusports.com, Scott finished sixth in career sacks at Northwestern with 16.
Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net has concerns with where Scott plays in the NFL.
Scott was a solid college pass rusher but does not have the speed to line up at end in the NFL or the size to be kicked inside to tackle.