Jul 26, 2013; Mankato, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) practices during training camp at Minnesota State University. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings OTAs: Five Players to Watch

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!

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  • Don Andrew Halvorson

    #4 is a no-namer for me, but as I typed this, another article about him popped up. I like your list though. Antone Exum and Antonio Richardson both make my list as my guys to watch.

    As far as a #4 receiver, Thielen would probably be tacked on instead of bumping Simpson.

  • manbearpig01

    Actually I thought Prater and Sherels looked decent at the end of last year.

    • Jake

      Prater looked pretty damn good during his few games toward the end of the year. And Sherels is a top-notch return man which has a lot of value. Zinski doesn’t know shit about shit.

  • Jake

    I think you’re forgetting the season Simpson had last year: 48 catches, 725 yards, 15 yards per catch. Oh and he only had 1 dropped pass all season according to SportingCharts. One drop on 100 targets for a drop rate of 1%, Greg Jennings had a drop rate of 4.8% for comparison. And last year he only dropped 4 passes on 52 targets. I wouldn’t exactly say he is “prone to drops”. Once again you’ve proven that you don’t do any research into the shit you say.

  • Zack Selzman

    Depends on what you mean by interesting. Prater did not have enough games under his belt to be declared a top notch corner, but in the limited number of games he played, he looked very good. Price and James are by no means a lock to make the team. I would be surprised to see Cox still on the roster, but Sherels won’t be as easy to unseat as many people seem to believe and it would be a shame to let Prater go after his performance in the limited number of games he did play in.

  • Mnstorm99

    Jerome Simpson also draws a top 10 number of interference calls. Thielen could make the roster, but I doubt Simpson is not there.