The Minnesota Vikings were one of the busiest franchises over the weekend, drafting 11 rookies in the 2017 NFL Draft. The class drew relative praise from the fanbase, but general manager Rick Spielman was far from finished once the seventh round concluded.
On Monday, the team signed 13 rookie free agents, finding a wealth of value in the pool of players who watched the weekend come and go without an offer. The players include:
- Tashawn Bower, DE, LSU
- Dylan Bradley, DT, Southern Mississippi
- Aviante Collins, T, TCU
- Nick Fett, T, Iowa State
- Caleb Kidder, DE, Montana
- Wes Lunt, QB, Illinois
- Sam McCaskill, DE, Boise State
- Terrell Newby, RB, Nebraska
- Josiah Price, TE, Michigan State
- Horace Richardson, CB, SMU
- R.J. Shelton, WR, Michigan State
- Shaan Washington, LB, Texas A&M
- Eric Wilson, LB, Cincinnati
As Chris Tomasson pointed out on Twitter this morning, the Vikings signed 10 rookie free agents last offseason, none of whom finished on the team’s final depth chart. Spielman “vows to do better” this year, and fortunately, a few names could become viable options for the 53-man roster in August.
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com specifically highlighted three players as those with enough upside to become rostered contributors: Aviante Collins, Tashawn Bower, and Dylan Bradley (pictured above).
Collins and the Vikings met at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, where he posted fantastic numbers in the 40-yard dash (4.81 seconds) and bench press (34 repetitions). He’s versatile enough to play multiple spots along the line, but Collins is a project at this point. Minnesota made the right decision to spend a later draft pick on a more pro-ready prospect in Danny Isidora.
Like Collins, Bower is an athletic standout. The Vikings value his traits—long limbs, an explosive first step—at defensive end, where he’ll join former LSU Tiger Danielle Hunter. As Zierlein points out, Bower is a player with limitless potential; unlocking those gifts will require a talented coaching staff like that in Minnesota.
Bradley is an undersized defensive tackle who could make an impact in one of Mike Zimmer’s many front-seven personnel packages. He’s built in the mold of Datone Jones, who in his career has seen time as a defensive end and defensive tackle. Though Jones is making the full-time switch to the 3-technique, Bradley has the flexibility to rotate up and down the line.
In addition to the 13 signings above, the Vikings are also hosting former Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong for a tryout at this weekend’s rookie minicamp. Chris Tomasson reports, though, that Armstrong is auditioning as a running back and wide receiver, adding further intrigue to Minnesota’s offseason overhaul of its offensive personnel.