The season starts next week, and thanks to three preseason games, we’ve got a good look at all the Vikings’ rookies. How do they stack up? Let’s take a look.
Round 1: Percy Harvin, WR
There’s no doubt that Harvin is an immensely talented athlete. The Vikings are just beginning to scratch the surface of the ways they can use him, even if the vaunted Percy-cat formation doesn’t work out.
First round receivers usually don’t produce much until their second year, but Harvin has the skills to have an excellent rookie season.
Round 2: Phil Loadholt, T
Loadholt’s answered a lot of questions after being handed the starting right tackle job almost immediately after being drafted.
He’s a raw, physical blocker who has had a solid preseason, but he definitely needs some game experience. He’s looked fine run blocking, but his footwork has been a bit suspect in pass protection.
Round 3: Asher Allen, CB
After starting off training camp hot, Allen’s buzz has cooled somewhat. It’s not that he’s playing badly, but more that he’s not been able to match his fantastic production from earlier in camp.
Still, he’s a lock to split time with Benny Sapp in the Vikings’ nickel package.
Round 5: Jasper Brinkley, LB
Brinkley’s a lock to make the special teams unit, where his straight line speed and hard hitting will be a boon to one of the NFL’s worst units from last year.
His understanding of the defense has improved significantly from the start of camp, and the Vikings seem very comfortable with Brinkley being the top backup to middle linebacker E.J. Henderson.
Round 7: Jamarca Sanford, S
Sanford has made a few good plays on special teams, but hasn’t really separated himself from the pack, especially playing behind last year’s preseason superstar safety Hussein Abdullah. Still, Sanford will probably make the team to improve safety depth, and hopefully another year of work will bring him more up to speed next offseason.
UDFA: Nick Urban, G
Urban was cut this week after failing to distinguish himself in a fairly mediocre guard unit. At least he has that job at Target to fall back on.
UDFA: Bobby Williams, WR
Williams won’t make the 53 man roster, but it won’t be for lack of trying. He’s had a solid camp, putting in a lot of work with Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels. He will probably slip onto the practice squad, and may eventually make the team.
More likely, he’ll turn out to be the Vikings’ Ryan Hoag, a preseason superstar year after year, who never makes it past the last round of cuts.
UDFA: Jon Cooper, C
Cooper is currently considered the Viking’s second best center, though Ryan Cook would probably start ahead of him in the event of a John Sullivan injury.
Still, there’s a lot to like about Cooper, a former linemate of Phil Loadholt at Oklahoma. In a few years, he could be starting someplace else.
UDFA: Ian Johnson, RB
Johnson has a great feel good story, leading Boise State to a Fiesta Bowl victory over the aforementioned Sooners on a trick play touchdown, and then getting engaged on national TV.
Unfortunately, the fairy tale is probably over for Johnson, who hasn’t played well enough in camp to supplant Albert Young as the Vikings’ third running back. Still, I think he has a chance of catching on with another team or sneaking onto the practice squad.
UDFA: Vinnie Perretta, WR
I don’t know what the Vikings were trying to do here. Replay that Fiesta Bowl game during practices, I guess. Perretta’s a fine young guy, but he’s not going to make any teams this year. Maybe he can hook on to a Canadian or UFL squad.
UDFA: Antoine Smith, RB
Already cut. Smith was added to give a little depth to the training camp backs. He actually had a few nifty little runs in his limited playing time, but he’s not an NFL ready back. Might be a practice squad guy if they can’t hold onto Johnson.
UDFA: Colt Anderson, S
Colt Anderson filled the Vikings’ desperate need for a player named “Colt,” but not much else. He’s actually a fine player, if a bit small. I just don’t see him making the squad. Good training camp body though.
UDFA: Nick Moore, WR
Moore wasn’t even that great a wide out in college. Just a warm body to run routes.
UDFA: Antoine Holmes, DT
The Vikings are actually hurting for young tackle depth, so I could see Holmes getting picked up for the practice squad. He’s got one of the most unintentionally hilarious MySpace pages, I’ve ever seen by the way. There’s a drawing of him as a Dragonball Z character, and it looks like it was made by a 14-year old girl. Pretty awesome.
UDFA: De’von Hall, CB
The Vikings’ defensive backfield is suddenly a bit crowded. Hall is a developmental player in a position where the Vikings need consistency. Possibly a practice squad guy, but he won’t make the team.
UDFA: Andy Kemp, G
Kemp’s a good run blocker who needs to work a lot on technique. While he’s not an NFL level talent yet, he’s a good pick to keep around, and maybe groom into a potential replacement for Hutchinson down the road.
Kemp would really have benefited from playing in a program like NFL Europe. Which is too bad.
UDFA: Juan Garcia, C
He’s just center depth, outplayed by Cooper in camp. He got a medical red shirt and a regular red shirt, so he spent six years in college. That makes him two years older than you want your developmental players to be.
UDFA: Tremaine Johnson, DE
Johnson adds good depth to a line that could use it. He’s probably not going to make an active roster this season, but if the Vikings take a roster hit later this year, I could easily see them adding Johnson, because he seems to have picked up the system pretty well.