The Vikings ‘Extra Draft Pick’ Resurfaces
The Minnesota Vikings selected six players in April’s draft, trying to fix some issues on the roster. Looking like a future star, first-rounder Jordan Addison is already turning heads at training camp. Third-rounder Mekhi Blackmon has been running a lot with the first team and appears to have a lead in the race for the nickel cornerback job vacated by the departed slot CB Chandon Sullivan. Jaren Hall, DeWayne McBride, Jay Ward, and Jaquelin Roy are slowly developing.
The Vikings ‘Extra Draft Pick’ Resurfaces
Besides those six players, the Vikings added a bunch of intriguing undrafted rookies. The two most notable ones are Ivan Pace and Andre Carter. Inside linebacker Pace has flashed his potential to the surprise of many, showing that the league made a big mistake in letting him fall out of the draft. His blitzes are electric, and he should be considered closer to actually receiving regular-season reps than missing out on the 53-man roster.
Fellow UDFA Carter, meanwhile, missed the beginning of training camp because of a soft-tissue injury and started on the physically-unable-to-perform list. On Saturday, however, the Vikings announced that the edge rusher had passed his physical and returned to practice.
That’s fantastic news for the defender who has already missed valuable practice reps. Like all other UDFAs, Carter is a longshot to make the roster, but a few hints show how much the team values him. Firstly, he was expensive for an undrafted player, signing a contract that included a boatload of guaranteed money — $340.000.
Another reason he can make the roster is that he was considered a mid-round draft pick. Some even thought he could be a second-rounder. A botched Senior Bowl, shaky scouting combine, and declining production in his final year at Army hurt his draft stock.
Nevertheless, Carter racked up 14.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss in 2021, but those numbers dropped to only 3.5 sacks and 7.5 TFLs in 2022. Offenses focused on taking Carter out of the game by running away from him and setting him up against double teams.
Carter is 6’6 and was measured at 256 lbs. The overwhelming majority dubbed him as too slim to function in the NFL, but they were either wrong, or he put on weight in the last six months because he doesn’t look lanky at all. He also possesses absurd length and intriguing quickness.
Kevin O’Connell expressed his excitement to work with his rookie months ago:
He was under consideration for us to be drafted a couple times, and through the dialogue and really trying to figure out how we still get him here, we felt like we gained an extra draft pick with him, we really did. Obviously the length, the athleticism, his production — when you watch him on tape you see a guy that is arrow up, gonna ascend, and how good can that be is what we challenge all of our guys here to do.
For a guy like Andre, we’re really looking forward to seeing him build on the career he had at Army. He’s a professional football player now, he gets to focus in on that as his job and really thrive in that with some great coaching. He’s a great kid, really excited to have him a part of our team, and looking forward to seeing what he’s able to do.Kevin O’Connell
The fact that he is a professional football player now might have helped him to put on weight since his college career — and with that, his Army training — ended.
No matter the excitement for him, it remains to be seen if there is a roster spot available for him. Danielle Hunter and Marcus Davenport are the two starters. The three backups from last season all returned. D.J. Wonnum is entering his contract year. Third-year player Patrick Jones has shown some flashes, and Luiji Vilain was last year’s UDFA to make the team. Carter must beat out one of them to be part of the 53-man roster.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt