In my other vocation, I deal with stocks and bonds and other financial stuff, so I thought I’d take a stab at a stock market report here on the DN. Of course nobody did them better than Ted, but in his absence I’ll give it a shot, and what better time to practice something new than in training camp, right?
So here goes... my apologies for some tongue-in-cheek humor mixed in...
Let’s start with some sort of newcomers taking the training camp market by storm.
Oli Udoh. We’ve been hearing rumors that his big public offering may be ready to come out for a couple years, and he’s now finally coming to market and making some headlines as he looks on track to beat out Wyatt Davis and Dakota Dozier for the starting right guard position. Clips of him holding his own against the likes of Sheldon Richardson and Dalvin Tomlinson are driving up his offering, along with him being able to handle some twists and stunts against the first team defensive front as well.
K.J. Osborn. Business wasn’t too good for Osborn a year ago, but things have picked up this year and he’s making a pretty good push for WR3, taking some market share of the reps away from the competition as his stock continues to rise.
D.J. Wonnum. The young defensive end wasn’t quite ready for a market splash last year, but he’s hitting his stride in year two, with a little bit different business model as a outside linebacker.... could be just the ticket for this growth stock to take off.
Phil Rauscher. This guy can hold his own on the trading floor, and the Vikings’ new offensive line coach looks poised to push the Minnesota Moving Company off its lows and to a new multi-year high this season.
Buy on the Dip
Kellen Mond. Mond is off to a slow start, head swimming with learning the playbook and playing against an NFL defense, and also because he got Covid and missed ten days of training camp. But the 3rd round pick is still likely to emerge as QB2, as his potential outweighs his slow start, and he still has a month to get up to speed.
Wyatt Davis. Davis has also missed some time in training camp, and has been relegated to mostly 3rd team as Oli Udoh and Dakota Dozier alternate between 1st and 2nd team at right guard. The way things are shaping up, Mason Cole may be the primary backup at LG and C, and Davis at RG, if he’s able to surpass Dozier. Davis may also get more practice at center, adding to his versatility. He’ll compete for a starting job at some point, whether RG or another interior line spot.
Christian Darrisaw. Darrisaw has been sidelined the entire off-season and training camp with some issue with his core muscle surgery recovery. He had a minor procedure done Thursday morning, which hopefully should fix what was ailing him. He’ll have a lot of work to do to catch up and get ready for NFL action, and that’ll probably take him a couple months, but he’ll get there and eventually prove an upgrade at left tackle.
Mike Zimmer. His defense got hit hard last season, both with injuries and the resulting performance drop, but don’t be surprised if his defense rebounds with a vengeance this season, with new players and scheme wrinkles that could make it tougher than ever to score against.
Fully Valued - Time to Sell
Jake Browning. Browning has had a nice camp, and some are expecting him to be named QB2. That’s unlikely unless the Vikings keep 3 QBs on the roster- something they haven’t done the last couple years and is increasingly rare across the league. The reason is simple: Keeping Browning means subjecting Kellen Mond to the waiver wire, in hope of him making it to the practice squad, which would be the equivalent of releasing him. Chances of that are slim and none.
Under the Radar
Keep an eye on these stocks - they could surprise on the upside.
Klint Kubiak. The Vikings’ rookie offensive coordinator has been a QB coach for many years, and has sponged a wealth of football knowledge from his old man. He’s ready to make his own mark however, and could add a couple wrinkles to his Dad’s scheme that may make him look more like Sean McVay or Kyle Shanahan than his old man.
Rashod Hill. Most consider him a placeholder left tackle who may work out okay, if not great, until Christian Darrisaw is ready to take over. And that may well be the case. But he has potential to be a pretty good pass blocker, which he showed last year in limited reps, and if he can improve as a run blocker, could make inserting Darrisaw into the line-up not quite as urgent.
These stocks are struggling against the competition and losing market share... future looks murky...
Dakota Dozier. Dozier is losing his starting spot to Oli Udoh, thank goodness, and with Wyatt Davis developing, his roster status is more in-doubt as a backup. He’s not much of a salary cap hit, which helps his cause a bit, along with his experience in the system, but if Wyatt Davis continues to improve, Dozier’s value continues to drop.
Dru Samia. Samia, now in his 3rd season, has struggled to make a positive contribution to this point, and is not in the mix for a starting job, nor even the primary interior line backup job. He’s listed as LG2 on the depth chart, but I doubt he’s an offensive lineman that will be active on game days. And with Ezra Cleveland, Oli Udoh, Dakota Dozier, Mason Cole, and most likely Wyatt Davis ahead of him on the backup depth-chart, and Samia unable to play center, nor a significant contributor on special teams, the value of giving him a roster spot is questionable.
Jayln Holmes. Holmes is listed as the backup LE behind Hunter, but don’t be surprised if Sheldon Richardson gets the first reps behind Hunter in the regular season. Andre Patterson said he’s going to play his best four pass rushers, regardless of position, and there’s nothing Holmes can do that Richardson can’t do better - run defense too. Holmes is another of Patterson’s Day 3 tweener experiments that haven’t gone well to date. This is his last year of his rookie contract, and with more promising DEs on the roster, keeping Holmes doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Hercules Mata’afa. Mata’afa is pretty much in the same situation as Holmes, a DE tweener that may end up being sacrificed in favor of guys with more upside potential, like Patrick Jones and Janarius Robinson.
James Lynch. Lynch is yet another tweener that is moving down the depth chart with the additions of Tomlinson and Richardson at DT, and Armon Watts ascending. He’s questionable at best to make the roster with 4 DTs ahead of him on the depth chart. Practice squad seems more likely.
Chad Beebe. Beebe may more advanced as a wide receiver than the rookies, but he may well have plateaued at this point and doesn’t offer much at his size on special teams, and is unlikely to be a returner. It may come down to him and Ihmir Smith-Marsette for one of the last WR spots, with Jefferson, Thielen, Westbrook, Osborn, and Chisena adding more value at this point. I wouldn’t bet on Beebe, but Smith-Marsette needs to show he can contribute more now, in addition to having more potential down the road.
Don’t Sell Them Short
Think these guys won’t make the roster? I wouldn’t bet on it.
Dan Chisena. Chisena may not be competing for the WR3 spot at this point, but he is a core special teamer who takes on the key gunner position on return coverage. I don’t know of anyone on the roster being groomed to replace him in that role either.
Josh Metellus. He’s currently listed behind both Camryn Bynum and Myles Dorn on the safety depth chart, but Metellus was also a core special teamer last year, and one of the Vikings’ best performers according to PFF.
Value Trap ?
These stocks have been beaten down, but does that mean they’re poised for a rebound?
Garrett Bradbury. Reports of the Vikings defensive line doing well, and particularly Michael Pierce of late, seem to be coming at the expense of starters like Garrett Bradbury, who’s been beaten several times, casting doubt on his ability to improve when faced with one-on-one situations in pass protection, which hopefully won’t be that often. However, if he is seen as the weak link, opposing defensive lines may well scheme to make those matchups happen. Bradbury has been a good run blocker for the most part when healthy, but we haven’t seen any evidence to this point that he’s making progress as a pass protector.
Anthony Barr. Barr’s stock is down after missing last season with a torn pectoral muscle, following a disappointing 2019 campaign, and also agreed to take a discount on his contract to remain with the team. Not much news about him from training camp except he was given a few days off for personal, non-injury-related reasons. Unclear what led to that, and its not clear if Barr is ready to bounce back after a couple forgettable seasons.
Poised for a breakout
Armon Watts. He may only be a backup nose tackle behind Michael Pierce, but Watts has been one of the brighter spots in training camp, and could be a force of his own in rotation along the Vikings interior. Having a solid NT in Watts to give Pierce a breather on occasion should make for better production from the position, down to down, quarter to quarter, and game to game.
Irv Smith Jr.. He takes the TE1 spot, and from his performance this off-season and in training camp, he looks ready to run with it. Don’t be surprised if he surpasses all but maybe one of Rudolph’s seasons in total receiving yards this year.
Buy and Hold
They may not be the flashiest stocks, but buy and hold these names and you’ll likely to come out with a solid return in the end.
MacKensie Alexander. He seems to have figured some things out since he was first drafted by the Vikings, maturing as a man and slot cornerback, while absence made his heart grow fonder of Mike Zimmer and the Vikings organization. He looks set to be a solid slot CB for the Vikings this year, and perhaps for an extended period as well.
Brian O’Neill. The Vikings best offensive lineman coming into the season, O’Neill doesn’t give defenders many opportunities to make plays, against either run or pass. He’ll only get better as he enters his prime.
Xavier Woods. Woods looks to be everything you want in terms of execution as a safety. Excellent communication, always in position, savvy in understanding route combinations, assignment sound. Woods comes into his best situation in terms of supporting cast, and is likely flourish as a result.
Ezra Cleveland. Cleveland is a candidate for a breakout season, but I list him here as more likely a gradual improver, similar to Brian O’Neill, who has now made the transition to guard and the NFL, and can focus on improving his craft at guard, rather than learning everything new as a rookie.
High Yield Dividend Payors
These post-30 stocks may not be the high flying growth stocks they once were, but they still pay a hefty dividend.
Harrison Smith. Smith may have more or less plateaued over the past few years, but he’s done so at a high level. It remains to be seen if he’ll be able to keep up that performance as he gets into his 30s, but most likely he’ll continue as one of the better safeties in the league at this point, even if he may not be quite as dynamic as he once was. He’ll likely be helped by a better supporting cast around him this year too.
Patrick Peterson. Peterson was overworked his last couple years in Arizona, as the Cardinals banked on his continuing to be a shut-down corner, often against the opponent’s best receiver, and playing all but 15 defensive snaps last year, despite turning 30. He still could be an excellent corner, but his role needs to be more appropriate for this stage in his career.
Adam Thielen. Thielen may be on the wrong side of 30, but he can still outrun some younger defenders at this stage of his career- as Patrick Surtain II found out in training camp. Still, he’s likely to play the Cris Carter role to JJ’s Randy Moss going forward. Still a savvy route-runner, he can get by defenders that way too. He also has excellent contested catch ability, and a knack for finding the open space, so he can still be very productive, despite getting up there in age by NFL WR standards.
Take a Flyer on This Name
Kene Nwangwu. He’s got a good shot at being the primary kick returner, and could see some snaps on offense as an explosive, big-play weapon. That could include jet-sweeps and screen passes, perhaps even deep routes against certain coverages. Speed kills, and Nwangwu’s got plenty.
These stocks just had an earnings warning issued by Mike Zimmer.
Ihmir Smith-Marsette. Mike Zimmer let Smith-Marsettte know that he better be able to contribute on special teams if he wants to make the roster. The speedy and shifty Smith-Marsette has upside as a receiver, but is unlikely to see much playing time in that role, being well down the depth chart in an offense where TE2 gets more snaps than WR3.
The Backup LB4+ group: Cam Smith, Troy Dye, Chazz Surratt, Ryan Connelly, Blake Lynch. Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr and Nick Vigil seem to have the top three LB spots wrapped up at this point, although Cam Smith could potentially challenge Vigil for the third spot if he improves and shows up better in pre-season. But the entire back-end of the LB depth chart was all put on notice by Mike Zimmer that they needed to step up their play- both on special teams and on defense. Ryan Connelly was the best of that bunch on special teams last season, and special teams play will be a big factor in which LBs get the last three roster spots. I suspect Surratt gets a spot based on being a 3rd round pick, and Cam Smith may have the inside track for another spot, leaving the last one- if they keep 6 LBs - up for grabs between Dye, Connelly, and Lynch. D.J. Wonnum getting reps in a LB role doesn’t add to the chances of the Vikings keeping six LBs on the roster either.
Testing Their Highs
Dalvin Cook. An improved run-blocking offensive line may be just the thing for Cook’s stock to reach a new all-time high.
Justin Jefferson. This stock is bound to draw a lot of attention, but he’s not the only weapon in the Vikings’ arsenal, and his execution is likely to be even better in year two.
Danielle Hunter. Fully healthy again, in his prime, and helped by strong defensive tackles pushing the pocket, Hunter’s stock looks positioned to blow past previous highs.
Michael Pierce. Healthy and stronger than ever, with a new emphasis on pass rushing, Pierce looks ready to roll as an interior wrecking ball this season.
Dalvin Tomlinson. Opposing O-lines can’t double team both defensive tackles without giving an edge rusher a big mismatch. Pierce is likely to get most of them, which leaves the 325 pound, long and strong Tomlinson with a 1-on-1 feast against opposing guards. He won’t lose many of those.
Too Big to Fail
Kirk Cousins. The Vikings most important player has team regulators and fans going through some stress tests and worst case scenarios after a close contact Covid incident. Cousins himself is looking to calm the markets with an alternative action plan so he doesn’t miss a game or cost the team a post-season run.
Fire the Analyst
It’s easy to sit back and make assessments of all these stocks, whether blue chips or destined for the pink sheets, but all of them are battling to make it in a tough market- making this Vikings roster is no picnic- and living a dream most of us will never experience in the process. Kudos to all of them for making it this far and making some good money in the process.
And last but not least...
The Ultimate Meme Stock
Who should be named Mr. Mankato?
This poll is closed
Someone Else (name in comments)