FanPost

Longshot Vikings: Undrafted Rookie Spotlight, Week 5

Continuing the Longshot Vikings series, the next two undrafted rookies to spotlight are in my opinion, the two most intriguing players on the roster. The first is wide receiver Rodney Smith who is a former teammate of Christian Ponder. Smith, the Florida State alum, was ranked by CBS as the #30 wide receiver in the draft. The second is another wide receiver and hometown hero, Adam Thielen. Thielen is a Mankato State alum and was so off the radar before the draft, he wasn't even ranked by CBS. As I did in the first article of this series, you'll get a statistical breakdown, scouting report summary and video highlights on each player. Also, as I mentioned before, be sure to check out Arif's Undrafted Free Agent Summary, as that's a great place to start to learn more about these undrafted rookies, although Adam Thielen is not included since he was signed after the first wave. So, hopefully this will allow you to get to know these undrafted rookies just a little bit better!

1. Rodney Smith, WR Florida State

Measurables

Height: 6'5"
Weight: 219
Age: 23
Arm Length: 34 3/4"
Hand Length: 10 3/8"
40-yard Dash: 4.51
Vertical Jump: 34.5"
Broad Jump: 10'
Short Shuttle: 4.07
Three-Cone: 7.03
Grade: 7th Round
Contract: 3 Years/$1,497,000

FSU Stats

Games

Receptions

Yards

YPC

TDs

2009

7

1

7

7

0

2010

14

31

448

14.5

3

2011

13

36

561

15.6

4

2012

14

38

524

13.8

3

Positives

From NFL.com:
Tall vertical threat who is a surprisingly smooth runner in his routes. Displays excellent agility for his size. Can challenge defenses vertically from the slot or down the sideline. Good concentration to use his height and vertical on jump balls, also to track passes over his shoulder down the sideline. Uses his length, quickness, and attitude to attack blocking targets in the run game and clear the way for fellow receivers downfield.

From National Football Post:
A big, thick bodied receiver, Smith definitely fits the mold of the big wideout that NFL teams have been searching for. He has quick feet for a big receiver and while he lacks explosiveness off the ball, once he gets moving he has good playing speed. Fearless catching passes as he heads into traffic, he tucks the ball away fast so that he can hold onto it when he gets hit right after the catch. Blessed with soft, strong hands, Smith consistently reaches out and plucks the ball away from his body and shows the body control to adjust and catch off-target throws. He gets started up the field quickly after the catch, has the strength and balance to run through arm/grab tackles to gain yards after contact. For a big receiver he has better than expected agility to change directions and make tacklers miss. He uses his size and strength to block defenders out of the play when he stays over his feet and after the block.

Negatives

From NFL.com:
Relatively lean, and must prove he can fight veteran pro corners during the route and in jump ball situations. Height gives corners a big target to hit in press situations. Must show he can sink his hips to run tight routes and separate downfield. Does not get many opportunities to catch passes in Florida State's offense, will need to show strong hands when regularly targeted. Adjusting to low throws might be an issue at his height.

From National Football Post:
More of a smooth, fluid athlete, Smith lacks the explosiveness off the ball and out of his cuts that elite big receivers have. While he has good playing speed for a big man, he lacks the speed to get separation deep and to out-run angles while running after the catch. He needs to run sharper and more precise routes; especially needs to improve his burst out of cuts if he is going to be able to get separation versus man coverage in the NFL. Although he can be a good blocker, he has a tendency to stop feet and gives up on block too soon at times.

Analysis

While Rodney Smith only had one year as a starter with Christian Ponder as his quarterback (Ponder's last year at FSU in 2010), I wouldn't discount that previous experience. If these two have already had some chemistry in the past, it would give Smith an inside track to make the roster. But there are plenty of other things to like about Smith as a wide receiver like his height, strength and agility. He's got the size/speed combo that coordinators look for in a 6'5" tall receiver, and that makes him an asset in the red zone, and in the running game as a blocker. NFL.com compares him to Michael Jenkins, also saying:

If you're looking for height in your receiver, Smith has plenty. But he's also a smooth athlete for his height, who tracks the football well deep. He's also a good blocker in the running game. However, he doesn't always play up to his size and can lose the physicality battle at the catch point.

So, there is definitely some potential here. Mike Wobschall of Vikings.com had this little "twitter-sized" evaluation of Smith immediately following the Vikings OTAs and mini-camp:

Flashed more frequently the past week and has great size/speed combo. Possession-type receiver.

For more on Rodney Smith, check out this excellent Bleacher Report Scouting Report as well as this interesting scouting report from SB Nation's Field Gulls, projecting Smith as a Joker Tight End. And Rob Rang of CBS Sports fame singled out Rodney Smith as one of the "unheralded rookies to make some noise" in the NFC, check it out here. Lastly, here are a few highlight videos to check out:

FSU WR Rodney Smith Senior Season Highlights (via RayFoye Combo)

2013 NFL Draft: Rodney Smith (via flstateseminoles)


FSU Clint Trickett 57 yd. Touchdown Pass to Rodney Smith vs. Clemson (via TheBrianWalrath)


2. Adam Thielen, WR Mankato State

Measurables

Unfortunately, Adam Thielen did not participate in the NFL Scouting Combine, and was instead only a participant in the Super Regional Combine in Dallas, and try as I might, I could not find his full, official scouting numbers online. His stats were also a bit difficult to track down too, so this is all I've got on Thielen, and I can't verify if all of it is official or not.

Height: 6'3"
Weight: 200
Age: 22
40-yard Dash: 4.47 (unofficial)
Vertical: 36" (unofficial)
Broad Jump: 10'2" (unofficial)
Grade: Free Agency
Contract: 3 Years/$1,485,000

Mankato Stats

Games

Receptions

Yards

YPC

TDs

2012

n/a

74

1,176

15.9

8

Career

46

198

2,802

n/a

20

And just as there was not much available in the way of stats for Adam Thielen, I couldn't find a single pre-draft scouting report on him either. In leiu of the "Positive/Negative/Analysis" format I've been giving you for other players, I'll just highlight what Mike Wobshall wrote about him in this profile article from Vikings.com:

Thielen was invited to the rookie mini-camp on a tryout basis and impressed every step of the way, leading to the club offering him a contract. Quick and fast, the 6-1, 192-pound Thielen stood out...[but he] was more of a surprise given his status as a tryout player from smaller in-state school. [Based on his stats above] if the Mavericks exploded in the passing game, it was likely due in large part to Thielen - of MSU's 34 passing plays of 25 yards or greater, Thielen caught 21 of them. Thielen's impact wasn't limited to the offense, as he was MSU's primary punt returner, notching 239 return yards and 1 TD on 24 attempts. If Thielen can continue to impress and show improvement in his game, he may have the opportunity to return to the very same MSU fields that groomed him for a chance to compete for an NFL roster spot.

And so far, his ticket to training camp appears to be stamped, barring a surprising cut as some last minute free agents are signed in the next month or so. Wobschall also had this "twitter-sized evaluation" about Thielen after OTA's and mini-camp wrapped last week:

A sudden athlete who is quick enough for the NFL and makes tough catches in traffic. Excited to see him in camp.

For more information on Adam Thielen (and there's not much out there) check out this article published by the Mankato State Athletic Department. And there just happens to be some highlight videos on youtube, so check them out!

Receiver of the Year (via MSUMaverickFootball)

Adam Thielen (via Packer04life)

Adam Thielen WR Minnesota State #9 (via Andy Deering)

This FanPost was created by a registered user of The Daily Norseman, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the site. However, since this is a community, that view is no less important.

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