Speculation

10 Camp Questions: Stacking The Wide Outs

Mankato’s annual training camp is where the Minnesota Vikings (and their fans) converge to shape their roster and formulate a plan of attack for the coming season. This year, like every other, a bevy of questions remain unanswered and Vikings Territory attempts to identify 10 of the biggest questions and give you a chance to predict how things will shake out.

This is Part Three and if you missed out on the first two installments then feel free to catch up by clicking HERE and HERE.

CAMP QUESTION #3 – STACKING THE WIDE OUTS

These questions are not being presented in any particular order of importance. If they were, this one might have been a candidate to be at the top of the list.

Much has been made about the potential, attitudes, weaknesses, and production displayed by Minnesota’s relatively young and unproven group of pass catchers. Nearly all of the names come with an interesting enough story, and the creation of the depth chart at the position is sure to provide us with plenty of preseason drama.

For now, here is the current group simply listed in alphabetical order:

  • Böhringer, Moritz
  • Diggs, Stefon
  • Fruechte, Isaac
  • Johnson, Charles
  • Michel, Marken
  • Patterson, Cordarrelle
  • Sinkfield, Terrell
  • Stoudermire, Troy
  • Thielen, Adam
  • Treadwell, Laquon
  • Wright, Jarius

For those keeping score at home, that is 11 names, and at least five of them will not make the opening day active roster… very possibly six of them. The numbers game alone makes certain that some very tough (and interesting) decisions are coming soon to a transaction report near you.

For the sake of this article, I am (perhaps foolishly) going to dismiss a few names as serious contenders for an opening day job in Minnesota: Fruechte, Michel, Sinkfield and Stoudermire. I’m not saying they don’t have dark horse potential, but I’m willing to assert that each is a very long-shot as things stand in June.

Now, for the sake of this article, I am (perhaps foolishly) going to declare a few guys as locks to make the roster pending terrible preseason injuries: Diggs, Treadwell and Wright. Of course, nobody’s NFL job is 100% secure, but there are literally zero reasons right now to believe any of these three guys won’t be Vikings in 2016.

That leaves two or three vacant roster spots for Böhringer, Johnson, Patterson, and Thielen to compete for. Now we’ll take a closer look at each of them.

MORITZ BÖHRINGER

Since we’ve already established that this article is openly heavy on “group think” assumptions and mainstream narratives, Böhringer’s unprecedented path to the NFL makes him the easiest of the remaining group to cut, without a doubt.

Böhringer is one of the rawest prospects ever to be drafted (get to know him HERE), but his combination of size, speed and athleticism as displayed on YouTube is as rare as any receiver prospect in this year’s crop. The hype machine certainly has a great number of us believing he could turn into something special, but he could just as easily end up being a footnote in NFL history books.

An early fan favorite to follow, for sure, but Mr. MoBo has a lot to prove before he’ll be crowned Mr. Mankato.

CHARLES JOHNSON

When Norv Turner went into sly-mode in 2014 and swiped Johnson away from his former team in Cleveland, the results initially seemed quite positive. His second season with Minnesota didn’t go nearly as well, however, and the popular fantasy “sleeper” choice faded into irrelevance by mid-season.

This offseason, however, Johnson attempted to purge away some of the mystery surrounding his disappearing act by revealing that an early broken rib made it too painful to even sneeze until November.

As long as the delayed injury disclosure is based in fact, and isn’t just a convenient excuse, then Johnson is primed for a comeback that provides reason for optimism. His health should significantly help Johnson maintain his roster spot, and maybe even a starting role, but his lack of true special teams value puts him at a disadvantage over some of his primary competition.

CORDARRELLE PATTERSON

Perhaps no other non-rookie has received more offseason coverage here at Vikings Territory than Cordarrelle “Flash” Patterson.

We’ve discussed whether or not Mike Zimmer has given him a fair shake, who he has trained with, who he didn’t train with, just how valuable his return abilities make him, and we even talked directly to his trainer about him.

We’ve discussed him on a great many other occasions, too. Heck, we’ve even passed on plenty of opportunities to discuss him at great length as the local beat is just as obsessed with his commitment level this offseason as we are.

Personally, I think Patterson is plenty worth his salary this season, even if he continues to be nothing more than a kick return specialist. However, if he can’t make the leap as a wide out, then the Vikings could very well opt to move on (perhaps even woo some trade partners) and give someone showing more polish a chance to play in 2016.

ADAM THIELEN

If Patterson’s special teams prowess means he deserves a job, then Thielen is certainly owed the same level of respect on that front. At age 25, it was a no-brainer for the Vikings to retain Thielen as an exclusive rights free agent this year, but future decisions concerning his status may prove more difficult for Rick Spielman and company.

A great local story isn’t the only reason Thielen has beat the odds and stuck with the Vikings since 2013. He’s fantastic on special teams, has underrated speed and consistent hands at wide out, and arguably has just as much potential for a breakout as anyone on the roster.

Thielen caught 12 passes for 144 yards in 2015.

CAMP QUESTION #3

I’m fairly confident that Böhringer would win in a landslide had this poll read: “Which of these guys is least likely to win a roster spot?,” so I am going to go with the exact opposite:

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Adam Warwas

Adam Warwas (Founder) has been writing about the Vikings for a total of eight years. Five of those years have been here at Vikings Territory where he continues to surround himself with enough talented individuals that people keep coming back. As proud as he is of what Vikings Territory has become, his real treasures are in his home... a beautiful wife and three amazing children (and a dog named Percy).

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10 Comments

  1. It is unclear why Wright is treated as a lock. His production has not been great, or even very good. Exactly what he brings to the table, other than average speed, is unclear. He has no real upside at this point, he’s been around long enough that you know what you are getting–mediocrity. Endangering Bohringer for him is questionable, and if Patterson has truly turned a corner, then both have way more upside. Thielen is both more versatile and reliable. He may be the choice to make the team, but he should be considered a lock.

    1. Interesting… I wouldn’t have thought the Wright take would be a point of debate. Regardless of the differences between yours, mine and anyone else’s evaluation of Wright the Vikings clearly think very highly of him or his new contract wouldn’t have been what it is.

      Simple fact is that they take a $2,56 million cap hit if he’s on the team. The eat $2.24 million in dead money if they cut him. No way they admit they were that wrong (not that he’s done anything to suggest they’re wrong) and cut Wright without something drastic happening.

  2. Would bet the farm that we have Johnson, Wright, Thielen, Patterson, Diggs, and Treadwell. The only questions that remain are where they shake out as far as the depth chart and who plays in different situations. MoBo on the practice squad with possibly one more wr – possibly Fruechte? Unless there is an injury or trade this will be our crew. Not much to debate in my eyes.

    1. Agree as long as they keep 6 WR it could be 5 WR. An Offensive lineman or DB or WR most think are going to be a Viking will be let go. Choice – Eliminate 1 player from 2 groups. It’s a hard choice. 1) A Thielen C Johnson C Patterson 2) J Price M Griffin Kearse M Sherells C) P Loadholt B Fusco Sully Note – Maybe one of three player groups listed has no cut.

      I predict surprise cuts are 1) Phil or Sully if they don’t look 100%. 2) Kearse though I would cut Griffin.

  3. Cuts: Fruechte, Michel, Sinkfield and Stoudermire.

    Any of them has less than a 1% chance of making the 53 man roster for opening weekend. Collectively, they probably total less than a 1% chance of making the 53 man roster for opening weekend.

    Locks: Diggs, Treadwell, Wright and Thielen.

    Wright is not going anywhere. He is the odds on favorite to be the third receiver in three receiver sets.

    Thielen was named the Viking Special Team Player of the Year, and can credibly play receiver. He is not going anywhere either. Short of being an All-Pro defensive player, Thielen is as close to a “Zimmer guy” as anyone could get. Pure hustle, always does his job, great attitude. Zimmer would like to clone Thielen.

    Probables: Johnson and Patterson. There is room for six receivers on the roster, and the Vikings will likely keep six. They are only probables though, and will need to earn their roster spots during training camp, because they are vulnerable to….

    Training Camp Surprise: MoBo probably can’t make the leap to game ready by September. If he puts down bad tape during training camp and preseason, the Vikings likely try to run him through waivers, and then onto the practice squad. If he clears waivers, the Vikings will likely do whatever they need to do to keep him from being poached off the practice squad, including clearing a spot on the 53 man roster for him.

    If MoBo puts down good tape in training camp and preseason, either Patterson or Johnson is in a lot of trouble.

    1. I don’t think Wright is a lock for WR3. If they keep looking good in TC, Johnson and Patterson are going to steal snaps from him.

  4. Just checked out the poll. I would like to hear from the folks who voted for Bohringer. Let’s hear your reasons for him making the team. Is he Dugan’s distant relative or sumthin?

    …….anyone else wondering about the size of Super K’s farm? I’m curious as to the validity of his bet.

  5. Charles Johnson offers absolutely nothing to the team outside of maybe 1 catch a game, he has never impressed me at all.
    He wasn’t even goods enough to make the Browns active roster, think about that…. He could not make the Browns 53…. The Browns, lol.
    .. and now there are folks saying he could be one of the starting WR’s for the Vikings… If Johnson does start for the Vikings then something has gone terribly wrong.

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