Why 1 Unsung Player Will Probably Make Vikings Roster

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings onboarded six new rookies from the 2023 NFL Draft, a group mostly granted a “B” or so grade from NFL pundits.

These are the new players from general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s second draft:

  • R1: Jordan Addison (WR, USC)
  • R3: Mekhi Blackmon (CB, USC)
  • R4: Jay Ward (S, LSU)
  • R5: Jaquelin Roy (DT, LSU)
  • R5: Jaren Hall (QB, BYU)
  • R7: DeWayne McBride (RB, UAB)

Why 1 Unsung Player Will Probably Make Vikings Roster

Then, Adofo-Mensah rattled the rim with 15 undrafted free agents:

  • Alan Ali (OL, TCU)
  • Calvin Avery (DT, Illinois)
  • Abraham Beauplan (ILB, Marshall)
  • Andre Carter II (EDGE, Army)
  • Jacky Chen (OL, Pace)
  • C.J. Coldon (CB, Oklahoma)
  • Wilson Huber (ILB, Cincinnati)
  • Cephus Johnson (WR, SE Louisiana)
  • Malik Knowles (WR, Kansas State)
  • Ivan Pace, Jr. (ILB, Cincinnati)
  • Jack Podlesny (K, Georgia)
  • Ben Sims (TE, Baylor)
  • Thayer Thomas (WR, N.C. State)
  • NaJee Thompson (CB, Georgia Southern)
  • Jaylin Williams (CB, Indiana)

And if you follow the money, one man, in particular, will probably make the 53-man roster in August or at least serve as a shoo-in on the practice squad.

He’s Army’s Andre Carter II, an EDGE rusher with high upside.

Why 1 Unsung
Danny Wild-USA Today Sports.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweeted about Carter II to the Vikings Monday, “One of the biggest commitments ever to an undrafted free agent: The Vikings signed former Army edge Andre Carter II to a deal that includes a $40,000 signing bonus and $300K base salary guarantee. A sign they believe Carter can make the active roster.”

If the transaction was unprecedented, per Pelissero, then Carter II is in the driver’s seat to be a part of the Vikings future. Otherwise, the signing bonus and base salary would’ve been less, and Carter II’s trajectory would be that of “just another guy.”

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports.

For now, Minnesota’s EDGE group is plentiful, and a typical undrafted free agent would face an uphill battle even thinking about making the regular season roster:

  • OLB1: Danielle Hunter
  • OLB2: Marcus Davenport
  • OLB3: Za’Darius Smith
  • OLB4: D.J. Wonnum
  • OLB5: Patrick Jones
  • OLB6: Luiji Vilain
  • OLB7: Benton Whitley
  • OLB8: Curtis Weaver
  • OLB9: Andre Carter II

Still, the money — the grand indicator — suggests differently for Carter II. He was projected as a 4th- or 5th-Round prospect last week, like his new teammate and linebacker Ivan Pace Jr., but both men missed out on a formal draft pick. Instead, they became Vikings via undrafted free agency.

The consensus on Carter II’s exclusion from the draft is confusing, but most draft heads believe his size — or frame — prevented general managers from drafting him. But Carter II is 6’7″ and 260 pounds, so what’s the problem? He’ll grow into his own physically as a pro, and it’s not like he’s small — at all — in the first place.

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports.

Another item to monitor in Carter II’s quest for the 53-man roster is Za’Darius Smith’s status. Smith said goodbye to the organization at the beginning of March, but Adofo-Mensah did nothing with the request. If the Vikings trade or release Smith, one more spot opens for an EDGE rusher. And considering Carter II’s noteworthy payday, it could be him seizing a roster spot.

Carter II tallied 14.5 sacks in 12 games at Army in 2021.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.