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2015 Minnesota Vikings: Rookie Minicamp Practice Review

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For those savages that want a report on minicamp practices

This is from training camp last year, so it's not a picture of Trae Waynes, but he has dreads and is wearing number 26
This is from training camp last year, so it's not a picture of Trae Waynes, but he has dreads and is wearing number 26
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Here are some observations from the second half of minicamp. The most important such observations are the roles that a rookie was asked to play. Other than that, I wouldn't read too much into things.

Roles

RDE - Danielle Hunter
DT - Chigbo Anunoby
NT - Isame Faciane (?)
LDE - B.J. DuBose
LCB - Trae Waynes
RCB - Jalil Carter
SLB - Edmond Robinson
MLB - Eric Kendricks
WLB - Brian Peters

In nickel, Waynes kicked inside while Justin Coleman played LCB. The safeties were tryout players, as were the defensive tackles. I'm not sure if I actually saw Isame Faciane because my view was blocked, but I do think it was him. Who knows?

LT - Babatunde Aiyegbusi
LG - Bob Vardaro
C - Tom Farniok
RG - Austin Shepherd
RT - T.J. Clemmings
QB - Taylor Heinicke
TE - MyCole Pruitt
FB - Blake Renaud

Per usual, there was a lot of receiver rotation, so I didn't get to see much of who would be "starters" of this group, but I think Stefon Diggs and Kain Colter took more of the snaps than any other receiver there (a group that includes Donte Foster, Leslie Jordan, Gavin Lutman and some tryout invites). I didn't catch the "starting" RB, but Dominique Williams and another running back (Donnell Kirkwood perhaps) each took a lot of snaps.

I was able to note the following tryout players:

QB Matt Behrendt (Wisconsin-Whitewater)
QB Kory Faulkner (Southern Illinois)
WR Geraldo Boldewijn (Boise State)
WR Isaac Fruechte (Minnesota)
RB Donnell Kirkwood (Minnesota)
TE Richard Ross (Old Dominion)
LB Carlton Littlejohn (NDSU)
S Christian Dudzik (NDSU)
S Brady Grayvold (Wisconsin-Whitewater)
CB Darren Myles (Dubuque)
P Kyle Christy (Florida)
K Adam Keller (NDSU)

I wasn't able to catch all of their play, but I am intrigued by Boldewijn on principle because he is a Matt Waldman favorite (one of my favorite skill position evaluators) and both Grayvold and Ross caught my eye during practices. I think Ross is an intriguing guy (he's the converted basketball player). Of course, don't expect tryouts to do much. For what it's worth, Faulker threw a beautiful deep ball to Stefon Diggs.

In addition to the roles filled out above, other people invited to the camp:

OT Tyrus Thompson (6th-round pick—Oklahoma)
OG Jesse Somsel (Undrafted Free Agent—Saginaw Valley State)
C Zac Kerin (Reserve/Futures—Toledo)
WR Gavin Lutman (Undrafted Free Agent—Pittsburg State)
WR Jordan Leslie (Undrafted Free Agent—BYU)
WR Davaris Daniels (Undrafted Free Agent—Notre Dame)
DE Leon Mackey (Reserve/Futures—Arizona Rattlers/Texas Tech)
S Anthony Harris (Undrafted Free Agent—Virginia)

Performance

As for evaluating the performance of players, keep in mind this is the first day of football practice these players have had this year. They played against tryout players and expect different levels of growth before the season even starts. Take it with boulders of salt. Also, there's not much to say about the run game because there weren't pads and they didn't really have many running plays.

Secondary

I do not think Trae Waynes had a good day. Again, my thoughts on Trae Waynes are pretty well-known; I was not a big fan of the Vikings drafting him, but I do think that doesn't cloud the fact that he got burned by Diggs a few times and lost his man in transition at least once. He just didn't have a good day, and a better quarterback would have made him pay a lot more. He did much better in one-on-ones than in 11s.

Anthony Harris did not practice—his labrum surgery kept him out of team workouts in the leadup to the draft and kept him out of practice here.

I thought the best CB of the day was Justin Coleman, the UDFA from Tennessee. He did a pretty good job staying with his receiver and I don't remember an instance of him getting clearly beat. Coleman was very quick to react to changes in the offense and route combinations (Waynes lost significant ground at least once because he was late to pick up a receiver in motion).

I didn't see Jalil Carter play very often, unfortunately. He was often on the far side of the field, but I didn't see him get beat too often, though when Diggs was lined up against him, Diggs did a very good job.

The other safeties were tryout guys and I didn't see much except for Brady Grayvold on occasion in the slot, where I think he did well. The safeties, for the most part, did not stand out. There was a transition issue between Waynes and a safety where a receiver broke free, but it sounded like Waynes was at fault.

Linebackers

I thought Eric Kendricks had a quiet day, though there were me good moments, including a pass deflection late in practice. I thought he was very good in one-on-ones.

The best day to me was had by Edmond Robinson, the 7th-round linebacker from Newberry. I thought he did a fantastic job using his length to disrupt tight ends in 11s and in one-on-ones and he was consistently in position.

I didn't get to see Brian Peters in one on one, but he had a phenomenal play where he tipped a ball, which led to a jump ball. The receiver (don't know who) won it over Waynes, but I wouldn't blame Waynes too much for it.

Defensive Line and Offensive Line

I can't say much about line play on either side because there weren't pads or contact. Like I said yesterday, Leon Mackey stood out to me in walkthroughs and for what it's worth he stood out in these practices. I think I'm going to become a fan of him even though there's not really a place for him on the roster the way it's set up. Everson Griffen, Brian Robison, Scott Crichton and Danielle Hunter feel like locks, and B.J. DuBose, if he's a DE, has a big advantage over Mackey in terms of making the roster—as does incumbent Justin Trattou.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Stefon Diggs I think had a great day, and it looks like he may be used a lot like Patterson, as pundits predicted. My favorite play of his was adjusting to an underthrown ball (against a tryout DB)—he had his DB beat downfield, but had to cut underneath him in order to get it, despite the fact that the DB should have been in position against underthrown passes. A lot of good body positioning and body control.

Davaris Daniels generally seemed to do a good job, but I noticed him more in sideline drills (where he did a good job) and one-on-ones (ditto) than 11s. That may not mean much, though—he could have done a great job, but I can't see everything. I believe he did beat Jalil Carter on a dig on one play and deep on another.

MyCole Pruitt was largely good, but I did not see or notice much of him, unfortunately. He had one or two plays that I really liked, though when he and Robinson were lined up against each other, Robinson did very well. Still, I think Pruitt had a better day than not.

Like I said, I did notice Richard Ross on occasion and thought he made a good play or two. He has better ball-tracking than I expected and decent elevation.

I didn't get to see much of Donte Foster, but I did like what I saw of Kain Colter, who played larger in camp than he did in training camp last year. I wish I had seen more of Gavin Lutman or Jordan Leslie.

Quarterbacks

Not much to note from them. I think Taylor Heinicke's pre-draft valuation of poor arm strength showed through and he had difficulty pushing the ball on sideline throws. Otherwise, he was accurate. Both he and Kory Faulkner trusted their feet a lot, though I did like an occasion where Heinicke used the threat of scrambling to move the pocket and the defense to make an intermediate throw.

Specialists

Stefon Diggs did a good job tracking punts. Last year, I had an issue in camp with a lot of punt returners (except for Marcus Sherels) taking too long to secure the punt before moving forward. Diggs did not need to do that, which I think is impressive—even Adam Thielen, with his preseason heroics as a punt returner, didn't do that—Diggs has a lot of confidence in this realm. Kain Colter also fielded punts. He had some issue with it, but it's a skill it looks like he's improved at. Gavin Lutman either had more skill or more effort than the jammers he was up against when he was gunning punts.

I did not see much kicking, but though it looks like Kyle Christy had a big leg and good accuracy as a punter (though I don't know if he was kicking where he was meant to, it simply looked like where he kicked to was a good place to kick to), I don't think he gets the punt off quickly enough.

There wasn't much to note from the running backs (though Dominique Williams did field a punt or two. He was not good at it) or the fullbacks.

Other initial impressions: Trae Waynes is fast, Babatunde Aiyegbusi is big and Danielle Hunter is looooong. Like, really, really long. Also, I can't believe that Texas Tech had Mackey play defensive tackle with his body type.