If there’s one player that is responsible for my uncomfortable love of the Minnesota Vikings it is Randy Moss. He was drafted the same year I started high school, and while I thought I loved the Vikings before then, I never understood why my Dad’s Sunday-Tuesday (at best) emotional well-being could be dictated by a sport.
Then again, this picture is of he and I watching hockey together when the North Stars were in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Picture of my dad and me.
Then Randy Moss came to town, and I was never the same. I remember getting into an argument with my Calculus professor that year (I used to be kinda a math savant) after the NFC Championship game in which he ended up breaking the overhead projector and leaving us for the rest of class about 5 minutes in (I used to be irritating as hell, used to). Thus is life as a Vikings fan, I suppose.
I prefaced this article this way for two reasons. First, recently released (then resigned) Washington Football Team tight end Thaddeus Moss would’ve been a great get for the Vikings simply for the jersey.
But also because the father son dynamic is fun, and all, but there’s got to be more than nepotism for a team like the Vikings to bring someone in. Or rather, to bring a player in.
So let’s look beyond the “He’s Randy Moss’ son!” angle and look at whether Thaddeus would be a good fit for the Vikings (after he is off of the IR).
While I think the younger Moss would agree with me that he shouldn’t have foregone his senior year in college for the draft, as he went undrafted, it isn’t hard to see why he did just that.
The red-shirt JUNIOR finished the 2019 season at LSU with 47 receptions for 570 receiving yards. Both were records at the tight end position at LSU. He also nabbed four touchdowns (with two in the National Championship game).
With quarterback Joe Burrow and teammates like Justin Jefferson leaving for the draft, and the LSU offense breaking all sorts of records, despite one decent year (outside of his freshman year at NC State), Moss must’ve been told by those near him that he should strike while the eyes of the football world were on LSU.
That didn’t actually work out for him. But why?
Nearly every mock draft had him being drafted, and drafted somewhere in the middle rounds of the draft. That was until his physical at the NFL Combine revealed that Moss had a fracture in his foot that would require surgery. Considering that he missed his sophomore year for a foot injury, it isn’t hard to see why teams passed on Moss.
Despite that, though, it was reported back then that Moss would be ready for the 2020 season. He offered a spot on three teams, including the New England Patriots, his father’s second favorite team to play for. But for some reason he chose to play with Washington, even though it has been reported that their tight ends coach Pete Hoener wasn’t a “big fan” of Moss.
Then Moss was injured, and released with an injury designation. Had he not been injured word was that the WFT were eyeing him for a practice squad spot. Moss cleared waivers and was placed on WFT’s Injured Reserve list.
The injury that lead to his release sounds like it was something outside of his initial surgery. That doesn’t mean it isn’t related to that, but with him practicing since his surgery it isn’t as if they signed him post-surgery then changed their minds.
Then there’s this quote from LSU coach Ed Orgeron:
“Sometimes he practices feels better. It’s a lingering injury. When it comes to game time, (he) doesn’t feel like he’s full speed, stuff like that. It’s something that he’s not completely healed.”
That raises the question as to whether or not any of us would be considering giving a roster spot to an undrafted tight end that has been plagued by injury to the point of missing his sophomore season, then needing surgery after his senior year, and now this.
Sure, he broke LSU records, but with that offense I’m pretty sure Troy Williamson sitting on Laquon Treadwell’s shoulders underneath a super long trench coat would’ve done the same.
Moss also isn’t the biggest specimen at the position, coming in the FOURTH percentile for all tight ends in the 2020 Draft.
He is the same height as Vikings stand out Irv Smith jr, who is thought to be on the precipice of a breakout season.
However, Moss could make a career in the league after all despite his limited size/speed and the route complexity he ran/learned in college. Like his father he has amazing hands as well as great contested catch skills. Or, rather, “phenomenal” contested catch skills.
He isn’t going to pick up many yards after the catch, nor is he going to burn any linebackers or corners with his speed. However, he will come down with balls thrown his way and helps bail out his quarterback in the process.
Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph has never burned anyone, nor does he pick up yards after the catch. He has traded staying healthy for attempting to overpower corners/linebackers to pick up a yard or two, but he has been incredibly efficient for the Vikings both in terms of general percentages for balls caught that are thrown his way as well as in the red/end-zone.
The difference here is two positives and a negative, in that Moss needs to learn the complexities of the NFL’s routes. The positives for him are his great blocking ability and also his physicality and ability to “bully” the competition with his frame and hands.
With Kyle Rudolph in the last year Of his guaranteed contract, Moss could end up being the perfect replacement for Rudolph and the Vikings. With Irv Smith Jr. as the proto-wide receiver that’ll beat defenses over the top, they’ll need a physical tight end that’ll move the chains underneath and Moss could be that player.
Granted, Moss cleared waivers and is now tethered to the WFT at least until he is healthy enough to be placed on the practice squad or waivers.
If that’s the case, especially if that occurs after the season, I say that they should give Moss a shot. If nothing else, it’d make for a great jersey.