2014 Minnesota Vikings: Vikings Sign RB Henry Josey

In the wake of releasing running back Ben Tate, the Minnesota Vikings have chosen not to promote anyone from their practice squad (Dominique Williams is on their practice squad right now) and instead signed former Missouri running back Henry Josey from the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad, who had previously been signed by the Philadelphia Eagles after the draft. This news comes from Michael DiRocco at ESPN

Josey suffered from an injury in 2011, tearing his ACL, patellar tendon, MCL as well as the lateral and medial menisci. In short, his knee was shredded. He recovered from that injury to put together a 1,166-yard season at Missouri in 2013 after missing out all of 2012. A local Missouri news station put together a special on his recovery:

From a scouting perspective, Josey is difficult to figure out if only because very few will know about the health of his knee and how well it will hold together. Given the talent of the Vikings athletic training staff, it’s possible they saw something stable or something they liked in their medical evaluations predraft. His combine scores as a percentile of other running backs below:

Neither extraordinarily impressive nor worrisome (it’s in the upper quartile at his position overall), but it does move away from the trend of picking athletic phenoms and “coaching them up.” Further, unless Josey has bulked up since the draft, he’s a very small running back both from a height and weight perspective. For future health concerns, this will need to be resolved soon.

On the field at Missouri, Josey displayed above-average speed and acceleration despite the injury, and likely was in the top 10 percent in terms of on-field speed. He’s no Dri Archer or Jerick McKinnon, but his speed is very good. His official score of 4.43 is extremely quick, but some scouts recorded a 4.39 from him. After the initial scrum at the line, he can be caught from behind (pretty consistently), even on breakaway runs. While there, his vision was about average, but the bigger problems came from poor balance, which undercuts his greatest asset: agility. If that balance returns as a result of recovery from knee surgery, he’ll be another good back to put in space because his agility can make him very hard to hit or track. His change-of-direction may have to rely on confidence in his knee because he had good combine scores in agility, but it might be an actual physical limitation. Though he doesn’t play with a lot of power, he’s actually a very good pass blocker and plays with good pad level, and he knows to churn his legs through contact. While he’ll get around arm tackles, he won’t drive a pile or win a stand-up collision against a linebacker to fall for additional yards. As a receiver, he’s solid and he plays with good hands technique and runs solid routes.

If anything, Josey is impressive for how fast he runs given the condition of his knee, but that alone won’t be enough. If his combine scores are more indicative of his recovery than his on-field play, then he’s worth a serious look—there’s a reason that spread-friendly Philadelphia did; he’s perfect for it. In the preseason, he finished with 6.6 yards a carry on 34 attempts for 225 yards (the second-most of any running back), and 2.5 yards after contact per attempt. He also caught three passes for 39 yards.

The reason the Vikings chose to sign him instead of promote Dominique Williams likely has to do with securing a better offseason roster. This way, the Vikings can enter training camp and workouts with both Josey and Williams instead of one or the other. Don’t expect Josey to be active next week despite signing him to the full 53-man roster.