FanPost

Longshot Vikings: Undrafted Rookie Spotlight, Week 6.0

After a few weeks of hiatus due to vacation and work insanity, the Longshot Vikings Series is back! I'll be churning these out over the next few weeks leading up to Training Camp as I have six more players to highlight. So, continuing the Longshot Vikings series, the next two undrafted rookies to spotlight are a pair of interesting players. The first is defensive end Collins Ukwu from Kentucky. He was the #50 ranked defensive end by CBS. The second is quarterback James Vandenberg from Iowa. Vandenberg was ranked as the #21 quarterback in the draft 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 players. So, hopefully this will allow you to get to know our undrafted rookies just a little bit better!

Collins Ukwu, DE Kentucky

Measurables

Height: 6'5"
Weight: 258
Age: 23
Arm Length: 34 5/8 "
Hand Length: 9 5/8"
40-yard Dash: 4.95
Grade: Free Agent
Contract: 3 Years/$1,495,000

Kentucky Stats

Games

Tackles

Sacks

Pass Def.

Fumble Rec.

2012

13 (starter)

41

4

1

0

2011

9 (starter)

28

2.5

1

3

2010

13 (starter)

26

1

2

0

2009

13

14

1

0

0

Analysis

I have found virtually nothing in the way of pure scouting reports on Collins Ukwu, and as the 694th ranked player overall in the draft by CBS, it's not difficult to see why he was off the radar of most major scouting sources. But there are a few bits and pieces of anecdotal information out there I have gleaned from a few interviews and other sources. In a nutshell, Ukwu comes from a lower tier football school in Kentucky and was on an upward trajectory in development until he suffered an injury in 2011. The main reason he finds himself as a member of the Vikings training camp stems from his combination of size and speed, and his freakishly long arms. He has the prototypical build that scouts look for in a 4-3 defensive end, and the fact that he was able to have a positive senior season after the injury is encouraging. That said, he did not dominate the stat sheet and was only able to notch just over 7 sacks during his 35 games as a starter.

With Jared Allen, Brian Robison and Everson Griffin on the roster and signed for 2013, Ukwu will have to battle Lawrence Jackson, George Johnson, D'Aundre Reed and fellow undrafted rookie Marquis Jackson in training camp for a roster spot. Looking at his college production, his measurables and rankings, he seems to epitomize the term "longshot".

If you'd like to read more about Collins Ukwu, check out this article from 2011 where Ukwu was starting to generate some hype before his injury. He also happens to have his own webpage, which you can see here. And check out these youtube videos featuring Collins Ukwu:

Training Camp 2012 - Defensive Line Drills (via Kentucky WildcatsTV)

Kentucky DE Collins Ukwu at SEC Media Days (via Mike Reiter)

James Vandenberg, QB Iowa

Measurables

Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 226
Age: 23
Arm Length: 30 1/4"
Hand Length: 9 3/4"
40-yard Dash: 4.92
Vertical Jump: 32"
Broad Jump: 116"
Short Shuttle: 4.52
Three-Cone: 6.95
Grade: Free Agent
Contract: 3 Years/$1,495,000

Iowa Stats

Games

Comp.

Att.

Yds

Comp. %

TDs

INTs

2012

12

223

389

2,249

57.3

7

8

2011

13

237

404

3,022

58.7

25

7

2010

3

5

8

45

62.5

1

0

2009

4

42

87

470

48.3

2

5

Positives

From NFL.com:

Arm motion is really top to bottom, almost in an exaggerated way. That throwing style is consistent. Best on intermediate routes between the numbers and hashes. Carries play fake through draw. Flashes as a rhythm passer, especially over the middle of the field if routes are in his line of vision. Holds the ball high in the pocket. Waits on the checkdown when given time to survey downfield coverage.

From Draft Insider:

Intermediate passer with a streaky game. Patient, stands in the pocket, and takes a big hit in order to get the throw away. Works hard to avoid the rush, steps up to elude pressure, and can get outside the tackle box to buy time. Effectively sells ball fakes and quickly locates the open wideout. Usually gives his receivers a chance to make receptions.

Negatives

From NFL.com:

Does not always set footwork, even on three step drops. Lacks composure to work through progressions, appears to lock on to a receiver and overthrows if they do not separate. Gets happy feet when that first read is not there, attempts to reset but those throws are consistently poor. Placement is not good despite consistent motion. Rarely puts touch on his passes, makes one-speed throws. Ducks when facing interior pressure at the release point. Tends to sail outside breaking routes rather than leading receiver.

From Draft Insider:

Has receivers waiting on passes and overthrows open targets. Puts the ball up for grabs on occasion. Not a great scrambler.

Analysis

I think that Draft Insider pretty much sums up Vandenberg as a prospect in just a few sentences:

Vandenberg showed signs of becoming a prospect after his junior year then watched his game fall off a cliff last season. When hitting on all cylinders, he's a timing passer who can play in a West Coast offense, but Vandenberg lacks upside.

Many Iowa fans were disappointed to see Vandenberg regress in 2012 as hopes were high that the Iowa native who set so many high school records would light it up in his senior year. But that didn't happen...maybe he really did miss Marvin McNutt. Vandenberg's athleticism is average, at best, but as a rhythm passer there is some potential in our west coast oriented offense, and his ability to sell the play fake would be a big asset with Adrian Peterson. He'll have to battle McCleod Bethel-Thompson for the #3 spot on the roster, but if he can quickly learn the playbook, and show signs of developing into a more accurate passer, there could be hope yet.

For more on James Vandenberg, check out this nice write-up from Iowa News Station KCRG with some bonus video footage from Vikings mini-camps. There is also this great SB Nation article about James killing a bear. Lastly, here are some highlight videos:

KEOKUK'S QUARTERBACK JAMES VANDENBERG STARTS HIS NFL QUEST (via khqatv7)

James Vandenberg "#BTNLive" Interview (via bigtennetwork)

Tennessee Tech at Iowa - Football Highlights (via bigtennetwork)

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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