Minnesota Vikings rookie safety Jayron Kearse is the second draft pick to sign with the team after agreeing to a four-year, $2.4 million deal with the Vikings. According to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press, Kearse will sign his contract, which includes a $64,224 signing bonus, on Thursday.
#Vikings 7th-round pick Jayron Kearse has agreed to terms and to sign contract Thursday Gets 4-year, $2.4 million deal signing bonus $64,224
— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) May 4, 2016
Selected with Minnesota’s final pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Kearse is the type of rangy player that head coach Mike Zimmer loves. At 6’4″ and 216 pounds, he’s nearly the size of Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor, but ran a disappointing 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.
That 4.64-second time, paired with his inconsistent play as a senior at Clemson, knocked Kearse down the draft boards. General manager Rick Spielman explained after the pick, though, that many of Kearse’s deficiencies appear to be correctable with coaching.
“You see some times when he comes up and explodes into hits and other times when he gets a little out of control at times and will miss some tackles, but all of those things as we sit there and we watch it with our coaches, is it something that is correctable or not correctable?”
Fortunately for the Vikings, Zimmer is one of the best in the league at developing young cornerbacks and safeties. Despite putting together his strongest season under Zimmer in 2014, Xavier Rhodes continued to receive the “tough love” from his head coach. Plagued by penalties early in 2015, Rhodes wore boxing gloves during practice to rid himself of the grabby tendencies.
Like Rhodes early in his career — and to this day — Kearse will need heavy-handed coaching in Minnesota. He’s not a surefire prospect like Harrison Smith, and he’ll struggle through many of the same issues — undisciplined play, poor tackling — that plague current Vikings safety Antone Exum. But in Kearse, the Vikings also have an extremely raw prospect who Zimmer can mold and shape to his liking.