Vikings OTAs begin this week and here are five players we should keep an eye on (it’s actually six but who’s counting?).
1. Adam Thielen
I’m going to put my cards on the table straight away and say I hope Adam Thielen beats out Jerome Simpson for a roster spot. I just am not in love with Simpson as the “deep threat” in the new offense. He’s too prone to drops, too prone to running bad routes, too prone to lapses in concentration. Thielen has a real chance to rise up and pluck the #4 receiver job, pushing Simpson right off the roster. That would be just fine with me.
2. A.C. Leonard
The UDFA tight end will be an object of fascination for a lot of people throughout the coming weeks. He has freakish measurables and there’s a notion out there that he can thrive as a receiving threat in Norv Turner’s offense. The way is clear for Leonard to win a job, with only untested Chase Ford and journeyman Allen Reisner to compete with him (unless the Vikings decide to take a look at Jermichael Finley). The knock on Leonard is that he’s not the best worker in the world. We’ll see what kind of reviews come back regarding his effort.
3. Jabari Price/Kendall James
There is no more wide-open position on the defense than cornerback. After Xavier Rhodes and Captain Munnerlyn it’s just going to be a mad scramble. I’ll be very curious to see which of our two newly-drafted cornerbacks makes the biggest impression. Neither guy is a great stand-out talent-wise but they both have their positives. Both are potentially solid press corners. Both are willing to mix it up. Both are incredibly confident as you would expect from cornerbacks. OTAs won’t decide the CB question but front runners should have emerged by the time the process is over. The veteran options – Derek Cox, Marcus Sherels, Shaun Prater – are just not that interesting.
4. Isame Faciane
For some reason I’m fascinated with UDFA DT Isame Faciane. I think I may adopt this guy as my favorite OTAs player. He’s a technically sound, quick, powerful player who could win a job as a backup 3-tech. Don’t sleep on Faciane, I’m telling you.
5. Teddy Bridgewater
It would be dishonest to not include Teddy Bridgewater on this list. He is going to be the #1 object of fascination for everyone from here on out. By all accounts, a state of open quarterback competition exists for the Vikings, so that means the rookie has a real shot to win the starting job. It’s all up to him now. He has to show that he can carry the load. Beating out Matt Cassel shouldn’t be all that hard. Oh, but look out for Christian Ponder! He still has a chance!