Last Friday marked the start of “real” football for Vikings fans, as the team kicked off its rookie minicamp and welcomed 10 draft picks to Winter Park. There, they joined a handful of undrafted free agents to take part in on-field drills and media introductions.
Players like seventh-round pick Edmond Robinson used the weekend as a “proving ground” of sorts, showing coaches they belong on a 53-man roster. Others, like first-round pick Trae Waynes, spent their time absorbing an NFL playbook and refining their technique on the field. In reality, the weekend was a tease for what’s to come — training camp.
There, these young players will be tested beyond their expectations. Trae Waynes will be asked to cover veterans like Jarius Wright, while Eric Kendricks will find himself in coverage against Adrian Peterson and Jerick McKinnon. It won’t be easy, but it’ll provide coaches a true litmus test of their rookies’ abilities on the field.
After the jump, a look at other notable rookies around the NFC North!:
Green Bay Packers
Living in California, I watch a ton of Pac-12 football. I’ve had the chance to see wide receiver Ty Montgomery, the Packers’ third-round selection, in action, and he’s an impressive player. Montgomery spent four seasons at Stanford, where he was electric in the return game, as a receiver, and out of the backfield. However, he struggled with drops — 16 in the past three years — and has been compared to Cordarrelle Patterson (for reasons both good and bad).
At rookie minicamp, Montgomery surprised many and elicted comparisons to current Packers star, Randall Cobb. Sam Seale, a scout, called Montgomery a “bigger Cobb” and left camp impressed by how well Montgomery caught the football. In his first season with the team, expect Montgomery to challenge for a spot on both the punt return and kick return units.
The Detroit Lions’ first-round pick, Laken Tomlinson, is an impressive guard and football player, but left a bigger impression on fans when he gave a heartfelt speech at the NFL Draft. There, he described his grandfather’s health struggles and memories of the pain he endured as a sophomore in high school:
“My goal in life is to one day go back to Jamaica and change the healthcare system there and improve it.”
Tomlinson was the recepient of the Football Writers Association of America’s “Courage Award” last year, and brought those same intangibles to Detroit’s rookie minicamp over the weekend. Head coach Jim Caldwell described Tomlinson as an “outstanding individual and great leader” after Friday’s practice, and marveled at his easygoing demeanor around teammates.
Oh, and he’s also expected to start at left guard this season.
The Bears said goodbye to Brandon Marshall this offseason (traded to the Jets), but welcomed Kevin White to Chicago. The team’s first-round draft pick, an explosive receiver out of West Virginia, made quite the impression at rookie minicamp over the weekend. Analysts may have left satisfied, but White felt his first day could have been better:
“Did a lot of movement today. Left side and in the slot on the right side. Slot in the left. So a lot different than college. Just trying to get adjusted. First day. So it wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. But I’m learning the system and trying to get better each and every day.”
It appears offensive coordinator Adam Gase will line White up all over the field — the rookie hauled 109 receptions for 1447 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, and Gase will try to replicate that in Chicago. He’s a dangerous player after the catch, and has all of the tools to succeed right away in the NFL (remember, though; Jay Cutler is throwing the football).