The Vikings announced through their official twitter account that they waived receiver Josh Cooper and tackle Matt Hall (both of whom were at walkthroughs) to sign receivers Tyrone Walker and Andy Cruse.
Ty Walker is a smaller receiver, leaving Illinois State (Mike Zimmer’s alma mater) 5’10″ and 189 pounds. He ran a 4.59 40-yard dash, had a 39″ vertical and ran with a 4.41 short shuttle and a 6.99 three-cone, relatively impressive until you consider his weight. Here’s a scouting report from Draft Insider:
School: Illinois State
Bio: Senior total included 90 receptions/1319 yards/9 TDs after 64/787/8 the prior year.
Positive: Dependable small-school receiver with poor size/speed numbers. Comes back to the ball out of breaks, easily adjusts to errant throws, and makes the reception in stride. Fights with his hands to separate from defenders, displays outstanding hand/eye coordination, and competes to make receptions. Stays in bounds running after the catch and gives effort trying to pick up positive yardage.
Negative: One-speed receiver who lacks a quick release off the line. Minimal skill running after the catch.
Analysis: Walker was a reliable receiver with a nose for the end zone at Illinois State. He’s an undersized possession receiver by NFL standards, yet his natural receiving skills will get him looks for a West Coast offense.
He had previously been with the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers for a short time. Walker had expected to make the Green Bay roster after a very good preseason last year:
Walker finished with a team-high 11 receptions for 78 yards in the preseason. He has been far from perfect. The undrafted wideout had a pair of drops at St. Louis. At the end of Thursday’s game, Walker fumbled the ball, scrambling to poke it out for a teammate to recover. But overall, he has made the most plays among the rookies. On Friday, he hung onto a slant for 14 yards.
“Just the effort that I put out here,” Walker said. “I feel I deserve to be on the team.”
It helps that Walker has caught his share of passes from Aaron Rodgers in practice. The quarterback has shown confidence in Walker to make go-to plays within the offense. He hasn’t been doing his damage in camp solely with and against back-ups.
“That’s always good that I’ve caught passes from him,” Walker said. “He feels that he can come to me and throw me a ball, if he trusts me, I believe they’ll be able to trust me. It’s just how the numbers shake out.”
He drew plaudits from more than one publication.
Andy Cruse has one year of experience and has been on the Houston Texans roster. He’s taller at 6’3″ and 212 pounds. He ran a 4.66 40, a 4.22 short shuttle and 6.89 three-cone while jumping 34 inches in the vertical. The scouting report from Draft Insider:
Bio: Four-year starter who posted 74 receptions/681 yards/6 TDs as a senior after 43/391/4 the prior year.
Positive: Reliable pass catcher with NFL size. Displays good awareness on the field, comes back to the ball to make himself an available target, and consistently finds the soft spot in the defense. Uses his frame to shield away defenders, extends his hands, and works to make receptions away from his frame. Possesses soft hands. Makes difficult catches in a crowd, takes a big hit then holds onto the throw. Quickly transitions from making the catch to running after the reception. Gives effort blocking downfield.
Negative: One-speed receiver with limited quickness. Despite his size, has never been a great red-zone threat.
Analysis: Cruse showed terrific improvement as a senior and he’s a receiver who does the little things well. Unlikely to be selected at any point during the seven rounds, Cruse could catch on as a fifth receiver in the NFL.
Cruse’s preseason was not nearly as interesting, but his attention to detail is well worth noting.