All 10 of the Vikings’ 2011 draft picks are now under contract, in Winter Park and ready to begin training camp in Mankato on Monday. This includes QB Christian Ponder, who was drafted #12 overall and was the presumptive starter until the trade for Donovan McNabb. Now we’ve learned that Ponder not only won’t be the starter going into camp, he won’t get the first team reps the first week while McNabb has to sit. Joe Webb, the incumbent, will be the #1 QB out of the box. Obviously Leslie Frazier is the kind of coach who makes a big deal out of making rookies earn it. That’s fine. I’m pretty sure when the dust settles Webb will not be the #2 QB. Unless Ponder is really terrible.
Looking down the other newly-signed draft picks and their presumed roles as we begin camp:
Kyle Rudolph TE: Should get lots of action lined up with Visanthe Shiancoe in Bill Musgrave‘s offense with its preponderance of two-tight end sets. Has a chance to be an impact player from the very beginning.
Christian Ballard DT: Could be a big factor during Kevin Williams‘ four game Starcaps suspension, possibly rotating with Letroy Guion. It will be interesting to see what he shows during this brief audition. Could he wind up being K-Will’s ultimate replacement? Way too soon to tell.
Brandon Burton CB: Right now Burton looks to be no better than fifth on the CB depth chart, but he could very easily beat out Asher Allen, who isn’t exactly All-Pro material. The depth chart could get totally scrambled if Cedric Griffin or Chris Cook suffers more physical setbacks.
DeMarcus Love OL: Figures to be in the mix at right guard and might end up being Anthony Herrera’s replacement. Could also play tackle though most agree his best chance to stick long term is at guard.
Mistral Raymond DB: Right now he’s the fifth safety. That means he has a chance to be active a few games this year if someone’s hurt or the Vikings think they need extra DBs or special teams guys.
Brandon Fusco C: He’s seen as a developmental player. Maybe he can push John Sullivan and/or Jon Cooper at center but probably not in his first camp.
Ross Homan LB: I’d wager Erin Henderson will end up replacing the soon-to-depart Ben Leber at weak-side linebacker but this won’t happen until after a wide-open camp competition that will include Ross Homan. Wouldn’t shock me to see Homan end up starting at some point either because of injury or by simply winning the job.
D’Aundre Reed DE: I’m told he has talent. With Ray Edwards gone there’s a spot to be won at defensive end. Perhaps Reed will win it or perhaps he will fade into the nothingness having made barely an impression.
Stephen Burton WR: In case you haven’t noticed the Vikings aren’t exactly bursting at the seams with great wide receivers. This is another position, like linebacker, where a rookie could grab himself a spot right away.
We’ll see how these guys fare as camp and the preseason play out.