NFC North Rookie Preview: Minnesota Vikings (Offense)
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
With the 2015 NFL season less than 3 months away, it’s time to start thinking about the competition in the NFC North. According to most draft publications, the other three teams in the division had solid drafts so there will be an influx of new play-makers for Bears fans to root against. This week I’ll be breaking down the drafted and significant undrafted rookies for all the teams in the North. I’ve already covered both sides of the ball for the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, so today I am finishing up with the Minnesota Vikings.
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Minnesota Vikings Rookies (Offense):
#68 OT TJ Clemmings (Pittsburgh, 4th round)
A former defensive tackle, who has only played on offense for two seasons but showed enough potential that he was projected to be a mid-first round pick by most draft analysts. Clemmings fell much farther than anyone thought and the Vikings got a potential steal in the 4th round. Clemmings has the physical attributes to be a beast at right tackle, but his raw technique and concerns over a lingering foot injury dropped him from late in the first all the way to the 4th round. He has good size for an NFL tackle (6’5 | 309), ideal arm length (35 1/8″), and the potential to be a devastating run blocker. The Vikings have a solid option at right tackle currently in Phil Loadholt, which will give Clemmings the time he needs to develop his technique. It won’t happen right away, but by the end of his rookie deal Clemmings could be a Pro Bowl caliber right tackle.
#83 TE MyCole Pruitt (Southern Illinois, 5th round)
Pruitt was a bit of a surprise pick by the Vikings in the 5th round as he was graded by most draftniks as a borderline draftable player (I had a 7th round-UDFA grade). Perhpas it shouldn’t have been a surprise considering that Pruitt had the best 40-time and vertical leap off all TEs at the combine and top 5 marks in the broad jump, 20-yard shuttle, and 60-yard shuttle. He also showed well at the Shrine game, proving that he could handle an upgrade in competition from the Missouri Valley conference.
The Vikings have solid veteran Kyle Rudolph as their #1 TE, but he has had trouble staying healthy missing 15 games over the last two seasons. Even if Rudolph stays healthy, Pruitt has a shot to win the #2 TE role and see plenty of snaps on Sundays with only Rhett Ellision, Chase Ford, and Packers pariah Brandon Bostick to beat out for snaps. Pruitt has an athleticism edge on all of those guys and is a much more dangerous receiving option. His blocking will determine how many snaps Pruitt sees this year and it may take a season of development before the Vikings are comfortable giving him regular snaps. Whenever Pruitt ends up seeing the field, he will give young QB Teddy Bridgewater a dangerous receiving option in what could be an explosive offense as soon as 2015.