Roster Evaluation: TE Chase Ford

On December 26, 2012, Chase Ford was signed by the Vikings to join the practice squad. The 6-foot-6 255 pound tight end from the University of Miami was originally a 2012 undrafted free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles.

With only 16 total receptions in his junior and senior seasons at Miami, Chase was a bit of an unknown prospect until he got noticed after a solid week at the East West Shrine Game. Miami’s tight ends are known for their outstanding athleticism and Chase is no exception. He is a natural pass catcher with fluid body control and good speed for a big body. Chase has huge hands, a tall frame and terrific hand and eye coordination allowing him to snag passes even in tight coverage.

During the Vikings’ final nine games last season, Chase earned some playing time because Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson were struggling with injuries. Chase made the most of his opportunity down the stretch and no game was bigger than his 5 catch outing in the week 17 win over the Detroit Lions.

Chase played well for the Vikings and had some entertaining highlights worth talking about. So, without further adieu, here are my top 3 Chase Ford moments of 2013.

On November 2nd, Chase was elevated from the practice squad to the 53 man roster. The next day he was in the line up and saw some snaps against the Dallas Cowboys. With 5:49 to go in the game and the Cowboys clinging to a 20 to 17 advantage, the Vikings went for it on 4th and 1 from the Dallas 11 yard line. Christian Ponder handed the ball to Adrian Peterson off right tackle who sprinted through the hole for the first down and more. At the four yard line, Adrian got hit and fell backwards. Chase caught Adrian just before he landed on the turf and he carried Adrian all the way to the end zone for the score.

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One of my favorite Chase Ford moments happened against the Detroit Lions in week 17. With 9:22 left in the first quarter and the game knotted at zero, the Vikings had 1st and 10 from their 22 yard line. Cordarelle Patterson lined up at tailback in the I formation behind Jerome Felton at fullback. Rhett Ellison was at left TE and Greg Jenning was split out to the right. Chase was in a three point stance off the line of scrimmage in the slot next to Ellison. Cassel took the snap and faked a pitch to Patterson breaking to the left. Chase motioned to the right, still behind the offensive line, while Cassel rolled out to the right. Cassel dumped the ball to Chase just as he turned up field. Chase had a nice 10 yard run after the catch, and as he reached the sticks he did his best Jerome Simpson impression as he leaped over a defender for the first down. I loved the play call and the effort. Chase didn’t look as graceful as Simpson does, but he got the job done none the less.

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The final Chase Ford moment on my list happened in a week 15 match-up against the Philadelphia Eagles. Early in the fourth quarter after the Eagles cut the lead to 27 to 22, the Vikings were faced with a 3 and 5 at the Philadelphia 45 yard line. The Vikings were in a spread formation with 3 wide receivers and Chase lined up at left tight end. Chase made a nice grab over the middle in tight coverage and advanced the ball all the way to the 5 yard line for a nice 37 yard pick-up at a critical point in the game.

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Unless the Vikings select a tight end in the NFL draft, it appears that Chase has worked his way from a practice squad player to #2 on the depth chart in fairly short order.

The trend in the NFL is to feature big tight ends that can be used as a receivers in the vertical passing game. Chase Ford fits that prototypical mold. He is a hard working, pass catching tight end that could be on the verge of a breakout year under Norv Turner.

Bonus tidbit: Chase Ford wins my Coolest Name on the Vikings Roster Award. This distinction is bases on hours of data study and NOT because I drive a hot rod purple Ford Mustang.