Tyrus Thompson: Vikings rookie not looking good


It’s still early but things are not looking good for rookie sixth round draft pick Tyrus Thompson.

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Thompson is battling against several players for a spot on the offensive line and if the Vikings had to decide today, the former Oklahoma Sooner would almost certainly lose that battle.

The Vikings gave a lot of reps to backup offensive linemen in Sunday’s preseason opener, no doubt trying to sort out their depth chart a little, and Thompson stood out but not in a good way.

In fact, when Pro Football Focus handed out grades for Sunday’s game, Thompson finished with the lowest mark among all the Vikings’ offensive players.

PFF had Thompson down for 45 total snaps, the second-highest number on the offense. He graded out at -3.6 for pass blocking and -2.2 for run blocking. The glaring number: 4 QB hurries allowed.

Those are alarming results for a guy who is fighting to make the roster.

If you don’t believe PFF, just consider what head coach Mike Zimmer had to say about Thompson during his Tuesday press conference.

Zimmer was asked about a few of his young offensive linemen and gave a pretty succinct assessment (via Vikings.com):

"[Austin] Shepherd was…efficient. [T.J.] Clemmings I thought had a good night. And Thompson needs to do better."

“Needs to do better” is as close as Zimmer will come to calling out a young player to the media. Clearly, Zim was not happy with the way Thompson performed.

Can Thompson turn it around before the Vikings have to make a decision on final cuts? Of course he can. But when you consider what he’s up against, he’s going to have a tough fight to make the team.

If you break down the offensive line today, beyond the five starters, the two guys who look like locks are rookie Clemmings and veteran Joe Berger.

The next three guys on the depth chart would seem to be David Yankey, Austin Shepherd and Thompson. Even if the Vikings keep nine O-linemen, that leaves three guys battling for two spots.

Between Thompson and Shepherd, you have to give the early nod to Shepherd, who has been earning praise from coaches throughout the past few weeks. Consider what Mike Zimmer said about Shepherd earlier this month (via Minneapolis Star-Tribune):

"Shepherd, a seventh-round pick, started 27 games at right tackle for the Alabama Crimson Tide, helped open lanes for backs such as Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon and was part of a pair of national championship teams.“He’s a guy that kind of knows how to play,” coach Mike Zimmer said, and he meant that in a positive kind of way. “So I think he’s got a chance.”"

Maybe Thompson’s performance Sunday was a case of rookie nerves or simply being over-matched, but consider that rookie Shepherd himself graded out (via PFF) at +0.8 in a team-high 48 snaps.

Several Vikings rookies were given extended looks Sunday night, including first rounder Trae Waynes, and Shepherd came out the best among all of them. Thompson performed as bad as Waynes if not worse.

Unlike Waynes, Tyrus Thompson isn’t going to be cut very much slack. He’s a sixth round pick and he’s up against several players who have shown up better than him so far.

The best you can say for Tyrus Thompson right now is that he looks like a possible practice squad guy (of course he would have to pass through waivers in order to return to the practice squad). Maybe he just needs another year to develop. Going by what we’ve seen and heard so far, this isn’t a player who belongs on the 53-man roster.

Next: Mick Tingelhoff enters Hall of Fame

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