Projecting the Vikings' 53-Man Roster: Tight Ends

I apologize for the lack of an update yesterday.  Real life prevented me from getting to the computer like I had wanted to.  But fear not, because we are returning to our projection of the 2008 Vikings' roster.  I mentioned in my last roster projection with the wide receivers that I thought the tight ends merited their own post, so that's what we're doing this evening.

Here's what the Vikings' TE group currently looks like:

Number Name Height Weight Experience College
40 Jim Kleinsasser 6'3" 270 10 North Dakota
45 Garrett Mills 6'1" 235 3 Tulsa
47 Braden Jones 6'3" 260 1 Southern Illinois
81 Visanthe Shiancoe 6'4" 250 6 Morgan State

This group offers a pretty interesting mixture.  I think that, in this case, I'm only going to keep two tight ends around, because Jeff Dugan already fills a sort of hybrid TE/FB role.  TE is a pretty underrated position in many cases, but I don't see any reason to keep four of them on the roster.

Jim Kleinsasser, in my opinion, is pretty much a lock to make this team.  Sure, he's only caught four passes in the last two seasons, but he's got very few peers when it comes to his blocking ability for NFL tight ends.  With as much as the Vikings want to pound the run on offense, that's a pretty big thing, particularly with the right side of our offensive line (Herrera and Cook) still developing and in need of some solid assistance from time to time.  That and we NoDaks gotta stick together dere hey don'tchaknow dere yah?

(There, I've fulfilled my Coen Brothers/Fargo stereotype quota for the year.  Don't ask me to do it again.)

To be honest, I don't know a heck of a lot about Braden Jones.  I know that the Vikings have stashed him on the practice squad for a while, so he hasn't seen any significant action outside of the pre-season.  If he does have any practice squad eligibility left, perhaps the Vikings will attempt to keep him there again.  In any case, I don't see him having any sort of significant impact on the Vikings in 2008.

So, in this scenario, that leaves two players fighting for one roster spot.  Visanthe Shiancoe was one of the Vikings' "big" acquisitions in the 2007 free agency "bonanza."  (The quotes there are used to indicate sarcasm.  Hopefully it comes across better that way.)  For a guy that was supposed to stretch the field for the Beloved Purple, he sure as heck didn't impress anybody, racking up only 27 catches for 323 yards and one touchdown.  Also, keep in mind that 79 of those yards came on the opening play of the game against Oakland on a play that was so well-designed and left him so wide open, even Troy Williamson could have cau. . .wait, no he couldn't have.  Take out that one catch, and that gives him 26 catches for 244 yards, an average of about 9.4 yards/catch.  Stretching the field?  How's about stretching the limits of believability?

Then there's the story of Garrett Mills.  The Patriots kept him on their practice squad for a year or so, and last season Brad Childress called the Patriots up to let them know that he was interested in signing Mills to a contract.  New England then said that if the Vikings signed Mills away from the Patriots, that they'd be forced to. . .

pause for dramatic emphasis

Sign somebody off of Minnesota's practice squad!

To which Brad Childress basically said, "Meh," and signed Mills anyway.  He then proceeded to have Mills on the inactive list for 15 games, and gave him his only playing time of the season in the finale against Denver.  But, you'd have to think that Childress saw something that was worth incurring the wrath of Beel Beelecheek, or else he wouldn't have taken him in the first place.

With that in mind. . .here's what I see for the tight ends as it relates to the 2008 season:

Blocking Tight End:  Jim Kleinsasser
Receiving Tight End:  Garrett Mills
Practice Squad Option:  Braden Jones
Cut:  Visanthe Shiancoe

Yes. . .unless Shiancoe has an amazing pre-season or this team decides to keep an unusually high number of tight ends on the roster, I can't justify keeping Shiancoe around based on what he's shown.  He hasn't been as advertised as a pass catcher, and he wasn't terribly impressive as a blocker in 2007, either.

Agreements?  Disagreements?  Do you think Shiancoe stays around?  Think I'm overrating Garrett Mills. . .or possibly underrating Braden Jones?  Let me know what you think in the comments section, and continue enjoying the rest of your Monday night.

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