When the Minnesota Vikings were putting together their signings in the post-draft free agent signing frenzy, one of the players that a lot of people were intrigued by was Washington State defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa. Aside from having what might have been the best name in the entire 2018 class of draftees (or potential draftees), no one was quite sure what the team was going to do with the 250-pounder who made his name in college as a defensive tackle.
Due to some unfortunate circumstances, it appears that they’re going to have some extra time to figure it out.
Numerous sources on social media are reporting that Mata’afa suffered a torn ACL during today’s Organized Team Activities in Eagan. Such an injury would put an end to Mata’afa’s rookie season before it even officially got a chance to get underway.
In previous OTA sessions, Mata’afa had been working with the linebackers, but was moved back to working with the defensive linemen in this final OTA session before the team’s mandatory mini-camp. Mata’afa was a Consensus All-American and the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2017, but because of questions about his size and his positional fit, he wound up going undrafted in April.
I have to be honest. . .even though Mata’afa was an undrafted free agent and had an uphill battle to make the team, I really thought he had a shot. His level of effort certainly wasn’t going to be the issue. Seriously, the guy was killing it as a defensive tackle at 250 pounds at the college level. I thought he could have, at the very least, been a solid special teams guy for the Vikings this season and that he could have made the 53-man roster.
Unfortunately, with this injury, that isn’t going to happen this season. If there’s an upside, it means that the Vikings can hold on to him for a year without worrying about him getting scooped up by anyone else and give him a solid opportunity to make the team in 2019.
Once again, rookie defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa suffered a torn ACL in practice today and will miss the 2018 NFL season. Once the Vikings officially place him in IR and bring in someone to fill the spot on the roster, we’ll have that news right here for you.