As the Minnesota Vikings continue their mandatory mini-camp this week, one of the team's late-round draft picks appears to be making his way up the depth chart. Who is it?
Well, it's not our Cole. . .it's not your Cole. . .it's not even OMG AUDIE COLE. It's MyCole.
MyCole Pruitt, the tight end that the Vikings drafted in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, appears to have made a significant move up the depth chart, according to Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. On Tuesday, it was Pruitt. . .not Rhett Ellison and not Chase Ford. . .that was lining up with Kyle Rudolph in the team's two-tight end sets.
Pruitt flew a bit under the radar during the pre-draft process, having played his college ball at Southern Illinois. He led all Division I tight ends with 81 catches and 13 touchdowns, and proceeded to put on quite a show at the NFL Scouting Combine. He had the fastest 40-yard dash of all the tight ends in Indianapolis (4.58), and the highest vertical jump (38"). The Vikings appear to see Pruitt as more of a "move" tight end that they can line up at different spots in the formation than as a classic in-line tight end, and he's the sort of athletic tight end that Norv Turner likes to have in his offenses.
One person that seems to be impressed with Pruitt is the guy that will be throwing him the majority of his passes in Minnesota, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
"Pruitt, he's an athlete, I'm going to tell you that much," quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said. "We're glad to have him. He brings something different to the table. He can catch passes out of the backfield, catch passes from the tight end position, he can block in the run game, he can line up at wide receiver, probably can return punts and kicks, also. He's an exciting player to have and he's just looking forward to his opportunity."
(Like Vensel, I really don't think that Pruitt is in the mix to be a return guy. But, hey, who knows?)
The Vikings appear to be developing the same problem at tight end that they are starting to see at some other spots on the roster. . .that they're going to have a hard time deciding who to cut when the time comes. Kyle Rudolph is a lock at the #1 tight end spot, but Pruitt appears to be poised to take snaps away from Ellison, Ford, and NFC Championship Game hero Brandon Bostick.
As we move towards the latter part of the offseason, the Vikings' 2015 draft class is already drawing pretty solid reviews. A few of their draftees, including cornerback Trae Waynes, linebacker Eric Kendricks, and offensive lineman T.J. Clemmings already appear to be in line to play pretty major roles this coming season. If Pruitt can come in and contribute early on, it would be another feather in the cap of Rick Spielman and company.