Another of the UDFAs the Vikings signed this past weekend was WR Jake Wieneke (WIN-ah-key) out of South Dakota State. The Vikings had shown interest in Wieneke, a local prospect from Maple Grove who grew up a Vikings fan and idolized Randy Moss, and were able to sign him quickly after the draft was over.
Wieneke was a man among boys in FCS Division I Missouri Valley conference, averaging just under 100 yards/game receiving over his four years at SDSU, just under 18 yards a catch, 5,167 receiving yards, and 60 TDs.
So, yeah, that’s pretty good.
Of course it’s easy to discount those stats as not against top competition, but looking at his game, he does make some plays that, regardless of how good the DBs are, showed some very good receiving skills. Making a number of very difficult catches, for example. Showing some very good footwork on the sideline. And pulling in contested catches.
At 6’4”, 221 lbs., 33” arms, Wieneke has Randy Moss comparable size. And he had Jerry Rice comparable production in Division I. The problem for Wieneke, in terms of not getting drafted, may have been another Jerry Rice comparable: his 4.7” 40 time. Of course both Rice and Moss were first-round picks, so I guess Wieneke must have more to prove.
One of those things may be his play speed. He can be a little slow off the snap and getting into his routes, and needs some time to reach his top speed. He does have a burst he can use at his breaks, and sometimes getting to a ball, but he’ll need to become a better route runner to gain separation in the NFL.
The other thing Wieneke will need to show is the play strength and ability to get off of press coverage. He had a lot of free releases in college, but that would be unlikely at the next level. So he’ll need to work on his strength and technique in that area - something most rookie WRs must do in transitioning to the NFL game.
Early on, if Wieneke is able to make the team, which may hinge in part on his special team ability, he could play a role as a red zone target, using his size and leaping ability (35” vertical) to his advantage on corner fades.
Beyond that, we’ll have to see how he develops as a route runner and adapting to NFL competition. I suspect he’ll be helped by having Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs to learn from, but so will the other WRs vying for a roster spot. We’ll see what happens.
Here’s some highlights of Wieneke in action at SDSU:
I suspect every game is something of a highlight reel for Wieneke, but here’s the collection, (which includes some commentary from Wieneke):