They Have Done It Again: Vikings Steal Promising Undrafted Rookie

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The 2024 NFL draft is over, and the Minnesota Vikings acquired seven rookies during the three-day event. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy and pass-rusher Dallas Turner, the two first-rounders, undoubtedly headline the draft class and have the talent to become franchise cornerstones for the purple team.

They Have Done It Again: Vikings Steal Promising Undrafted Rookie

Judgment Day
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General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah selected five players on day three of the draft. Seconds after the final pick is made and Mr. Irrelevant’s identity is announced, reporters all over the country reveal where undrafted players have signed. There are usually some hidden gems available, and talented players fall for medical reasons or, like last year, linebacker Ivan Pace didn’t hear his name called because of a lack of size.

Pace joined the Vikings, was expected to make an impact, and had a wonderful rookie season. Of course, the Vikings want to find another contributor without spending draft capital and take some stabs at the UDFA pool.

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The most promising name is UCLA’s pass-rusher, Gabriel Murphy. He was widely regarded as a mid-round player with the potential to contribute early in his career and the talent to develop into more than just a rotational guy. The NFL, however, disagreed.

247 Sport’s Matt Zenitz was the first to report the deal.

Murphy started his collegiate career playing at North Texas for three seasons before transferring to UCLA, where he spent his last two campaigns. The defender started all 26 contests in those two years and collected 20 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. The majority of that production (16 tackles for loss and eight sacks) came in 2023. In addition to the solid production, Murphy offers intriguing athletic tools.

His height and weight are similar to first-rounder Turner’s. He doesn’t quite match his elite athleticism, but he easily checks all those boxes.

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According to Arif Hasan, Murphy is the highest-rated undrafted rookie by his consensus board, ranking 111th.

Lance Zierlein from wrote in his scouting report:

What Murphy lacks in size and length he makes up for with skill and production. He’s short-armed, which will worry teams on the pro level, but his hands are so sudden and polished that it tends to ease concerns. He works his hands and feet in perfect harmony to elude blockers like a shifty runner eluding tacklers.

Murphy could struggle to survive against run blockers who square him up, but he typically finds a way to slither out of sustain attempts on the collegiate level. He failed to dominate one-on-one opportunities at East-West Shrine Bowl practices, but his ability to maneuver into the backfield as a run defender and pass rusher has merit and should give him a shot to become a solid 3-4 edge rusher.

Lance Zierlein

Size concerns are the driving force in his fall, but the Vikings have succeeded with undersized players. John Randle is in the Hall of Fame, and Pace shined last season.

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Defensive coordinator Brian Flores has shown his ability to assign players roles according to their skill sets rather than forcing them to play in uncomfortable spots. If Murphy can play, he will find a spot in the rotation for him.

After losing the entire pass-rushing group (Danielle Hunter, Marcus Davenport, and D.J. Wonnum) except backups Patrick Jones and Andre Carter, the Vikings acquired Jonathan Greenard, Andrew Van Ginkel, and first-rounder Turner to be the top guys in the room. Veteran Jihad Ward will compete for a backup job.

Murphy must challenge Ward, Jones, and Carter, but he has a chance to make the team and earn snaps, considering his talent and production.

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