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Breaking Down the Vikings’ UDFAs

A closer look at the Vikings’ UDFA class

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 04 ACC Championship Game - Pitt v Wake Forest Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After the Draft was over, the Vikings moved quickly to sign nine more undrafted free agents (UDFAs) to their roster, maxing it out at 90 players total. While the majority of these players don’t end up contributing much to the team, every once in a while the Vikings have hit on a UDFA that developed into a significant contributor. Safety Anthony Harris was one example, and Adam Thielen, who was a try-out prospect later after the draft, is another. Kickers and punters often come from the ranks of UDFAs as well, and the Vikings picked up two of those following the draft as well.

While it’s difficult to say with any certainty, kicker Gabe Brkic and edge Luigi Vilain each had draftable grades by some analysts, and may enter camp as favorites among the UDFAs to land a roster spot. But you can make a case for every player on the list.

With that in mind, here are the breakdowns for each of the Vikings’ undrafted free agents.

Gabe Brkic, K, Oklahoma

Brkic (pronounced BUR-kitch) missed only one extra point as the kicker at Oklahoma, but his field goal percentage of 76.9% in each of his last two seasons would need to improve if he is to displace Greg Joseph. The main thing is to improve to near automatic inside 50 yards. He’s definitely got the leg for 50+ field goals, and made 4 of 6 last season. I suspect that a tie in the training camp competition would go to Brkic, as he comes at a substantial discount to Joseph on the salary cap.

Brkic was the second-ranked kicker in Dane Brugler’s specialist rankings, behind only Cade York who was drafted in the fourth-round by Cleveland, and given a 6th-7th round grade.

TRAITS

Brkic is listed at 6’2”, 197 pounds.

COLLEGE STATS

College Football Reference

SCOUTING REPORTS

Brkic had decent power in 2020, but he was a more composed and effective striker of the football in 2021. Hitting five of his seven attempts from 50-plus yards, Brkic improved his draft stock, but he lacks premium accuracy on intermediate kicks. Brkic could be a Day 3 selection but needs to sharpen his placement and touchback rate on kickoffs. - Lance Zierlein

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Having emerged on the scene with a perfect season in 2019, Oklahoma’s Gabe Brkic has long been considered one of the top kickers in the nation. Prior to this season, he hadn’t missed a field-goal attempt. Brkic has consistently proven that he’s got one of the strongest legs in college football, routinely booming 50+ yard attempts.

In fact, this usage in long-range situations has had a negative impact on Brkic’s overall completion statistics. In 2020, the Oklahoma kicker only had a 76.9% success rate. However, six of his field-goal attempts were from 50+ yards. Brkic made 4 of them.

Brkic’s leg strength is going to ensure that he’s one of the top kickers in the 2022 NFL Draft class. However, two consecutive seasons where he’s made only 76.9% of his field goals and lost his perfect extra-point record could impact his stock. -Oliver Hodgkinson, Pro Football Network


Mike Brown, S, Miami (OH)

Brown is another strong safety/linebacker hybrid type defender who played mostly safety in college, and conceivably could get looks at both positions with the Vikings, in addition to special teams. Competition for Josh Mettellus for the last safety spot.

Brown was ranked the 95th safety in this draft class by Dane Brugler.

TRAITS

Brown turned 23 in April.

COLLEGE STATS

College Football Reference

Two of Brown’s three interceptions in 2019 were pick-sixes. Academic All-MAC Conference in 2019 as well. Big ramp up in production and TFLs in 2021.

SCOUTING REPORTS

Brown will either be evaluated as a limited box safety with below-average cover talent or a future linebacker in need of additional muscle and coaching. He carries 220 pounds and has the frame for more weight. He has experience playing near the line of scrimmage but will need to prove he can hold up against a more targeted block approach if he switches to linebacker. He has the size and traits for an NFL look but starring on special teams might need to be his foot in the door. - Lance Zierlein

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Positives: Nice-sized safety who is effective facing the action. Keeps plays in front of him, quickly picks up coverage assignments, and works hard. Gives effort against the run and wraps up tackling.

Negatives: Inefficient and does not take proper angles to the action. Plays to one speed. Possesses poor ball skills.

Analysis: Brown possesses outstanding size and flashed next-level ability, yet he never improved upon what was an outstanding 2019 campaign. He’s a strong safety prospect who may get consideration at linebacker. But Brown must get his game back to where it was two years ago to have any chance of making it out of camp this summer. - Tony Pauline, Pro Football Network

COLLEGE FILM

Brown is either #3 (early in tape) or #28 (later) and plays safety.


Thomas Hennigan, WR, Appalachian State

Hennigan is a wide receiver and kick/punt returner possibility for the Vikings. His athletic profile isn’t the best, but he’s shown some physicality and nice ability at the catchpoint and in contested catch situations. Would be a hard work/effort type guy if he makes the roster.

Hennigan was ranked the 119th wide receiver in this draft class by Dane Brugler.

TRAITS

Hennigan leaves a lot to be desired in terms of speed and athleticism. His best trait is his size at 6’1”, 210 pounds.

Hennigan turns 24 in August.

COLLEGE STATS

Hennigan was productive as both a wide receiver and kick/punt returner at App State, although his numbers aren’t jaw dropping either.

College Football Reference
College Football Reference

Hennigan was a team captain and Academic All-American at App State.

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Bryant Koback, RB, Toledo

Between Koback and 5th round pick Ty Chandler, the Vikings new regime have shown they want complete backs that can not only be run the ball well, but are also good receivers and blockers too. Koback checks all those boxes, and with high-end athleticism as well. His production last year in Toledo was outstanding, averaging 133 yards from scrimmage per game and 7.3 yards per touch, along with 18 touchdowns in 13 games. But he’ll need to show that what works in Toledo doesn’t translate into a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none-type back at the next level.

Koback was ranked the 41st running back in this draft class by Dane Brugler.

TRAITS

COLLEGE STATS

College Football Reference

SCOUTING REPORTS

Koback failed to garner an NFL Scouting Combine invitation despite rock-solid production during his stint at Toledo, but an explosive pro day could have general managers going back to the tape. Koback looks the part and can run with some natural power, but he’s a disjointed and uncreative interior runner. He needs a clear runway to hit most of his biggest runs. He could benefit from a more standard run scheme, but he’s more likely to garner attention for his potential as a third-down option with size. - Lance Zierlein, nfl.com

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Positives: Underrated ball carrier with a complete game. Displays outstanding vision, finds the lanes, and uses blocks everywhere on the field. Outstanding open-field runner who shows great instincts and awareness and possesses the agility necessary to turn the corner. Keeps his feet moving, runs with a tough style, and works to pick up extra yardage.

Deceptively quick, which helps him elude defenders and make them miss. Finds ways to pick up big chunks of yardage from the line of scrimmage. Outstanding blocker who picks up assignments and squares into defenders then seals them from the action. Solid pass catcher out of the backfield.

Negatives: Not a truly creative ball carrier. Plays to one speed.

Analysis: Koback is one of the more underrated ball carriers in this draft and was productive as a runner and receiver. He combines the football intellect and intensity necessary to compete at the next level. His blocking skills will also be very attractive to NFL teams. I would not be surprised if Koback makes an active roster next fall. - Tony Pauline, Pro Football Network

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Zach McCloud, OLB/LB, Miami (FL)

McCloud was a 4-star recruit who played six seasons with the Hurricanes in Miami. He played all linebacker spots over the course of his career in Miami- outside off-ball linebacker, middle linebacker, and most recently OLB/DE edge rusher. But McCloud is a more traditional, 2-down thumper type of linebacker that will likely compete at the base inside linebacker spot in the Vikings’ new 3-4 base defense. He’d come off the field when the Vikings employ a nickel package. He’d likely get a lot of work on special teams as well if he gains a roster spot.

McCloud was the 49th ranked OLB in this draft class by Dane Brugler.

TRAITS

McCloud turned 24 in April.

COLLEGE STATS

McCloud had a reasonably productive career at Miami, averaging a little over 3 tackles a game. He was also elected a team captain.

SCOUTING REPORTS

Positives: Smart, tough linebacker who does the little things well. Quickly diagnoses the action, flows well to the play, and gets depth on pass drops. Stays with assignments, plays disciplined football, and breaks down well. Resilient, uses his hands to protect himself, and works hard. Primarily came out of a three-point stance last season and displayed a closing burst rushing the passer.

Negatives: Lacks speed in pursuit and cannot cut off the corners from ball handlers. Easily out-positioned from the action by a single blocker.

Analysis: McCloud was a hard-working team player at Miami who selflessly lined up at multiple positions when asked. He looked like a legitimate middle linebacker prospect early in his career, though his play has recently slipped. McCloud possesses the ability to make a roster if he plays well on special teams. - Tony Pauline, Pro Football Network

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Strengths
  • Gives effort between the tackles to find the ball and is willing to take on linemen.
  • Strong and stout against the run, filling lanes with power and an attacking mentality.
  • He has good reaction skills and awareness. Forceful tackler vs. the run.
  • Thickly built with classic linebacker size, adequate strength and the smarts to cover up his athletic shortcomings in the right scheme.
  • Works hard to get better and gives top effort on every play. Heads-up defender who shows good field awareness.
Weaknesses
  • Chase speed is below average, and he gets too upright as a pass rusher - needs to play with better leverage.
  • Lacks elite quickness and change-of-direction ability to handle NFL slot receivers after initial contact.
  • Plays upright. Ducks his head and fails to wrap up at times. Inconsistent in giving full effort to be the second man in on the play. Must learn to use hands to beat blocks.
  • Stiff in space with poor lateral agility and range. Not fluid changing direction. Struggles to tackle in the open field and falls off too many tackles going for the TKO.
  • Limited athlete, lacks NFL playing speed and isn’t explosive. Consistently a step behind in pursuit. - NFL Draftbuzz.com

COLLEGE FILM

This is from last season, when he was more of an edge rusher. He’ll likely be an off-ball linebacker with the Vikings.


Josh Sokol, C, Sacred Heart

Sokol played guard and center at Div-I FCS Sacred Heart and will compete at center for the Vikings. Decent size and girth, but shorter arms- even for a center. Smart guy (4.0 GPA) who looks like he man-handled lower-level competition in college. Sokol looks to be a small school standout whose fate will be decided by how well he responds to the jump to league competition this summer.

Sokol was the 43rd ranked center in this draft class by Dane Brugler.

TRAITS

No age data available on Sokol, but he’ll likely be at least 24 given he played six years at Sacred Heart.

COLLEGE STATS

Appeared in 41 games and twice served as a yearlong captain; helped the Pioneers rank 11th in FCS with 211.1 rushing yards per game. FCS Academic All-Star Team.

COLLEGE FILM

Not the best quality, nor is it focused on Sokol, but all that was out there. Sokol is #75 and playing right guard. Start at the 18:00 minute mark.


Tyarise Stevenson, DT, Tulsa

Tyarise (Tie-air-is) Stevenson is a run-stuffing, space-eater nose tackle that is difficult to move. He can push the pocket too, but probably not otherwise much of pass rushing threat at this point.

Stevenson was the 80th ranked defensive tackle in this draft class by Dane Brugler.

TRAITS

Stevenson is a fire hydrant nose tackle at 6’2”, 352 pounds. His lack of athleticism shows on tape, but so does his size and power. He’s got elite arm-length for a nose tackle too, which is a great trait to mitigate relative lack of athleticism and help win leverage battles inside. He may not be able to contribute much immediately, but he’s got more utility and upside than some of his competitors.

COLLEGE STATS

College Football Reference

Stevenson played in 47 games over five seasons at Tulsa, averaging over a tackle and an assist per game.

SCOUTING REPORTS

Positives: Massive space eater in the middle of the line who flashes playmaking ability. Plays with excellent knee bend, gets leverage on opponents, and fires off the snap with an explosive first step. Impossible to move off the point, powerful, and bull rushes opponents up field to collapse the pocket. Gets a lot of momentum going, displays the ability to change direction, and gets down the line in pursuit of plays.

Negatives: Ducks his head and does not always play with proper balance. Must develop more moves with his hands to protect himself. May be too big at this stage of his career.

Analysis: Stevenson is a gap-occupying space eater with the size and power to play on Sundays. He comes with an upside and is worth stashing on a practice squad as he develops his game. - Tony Pauline, Pro Football Network

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Luiji Vilain, OLB, Wake Forest

Vilain was a 4-star recruit who had his career at Michigan derailed due to knee injuries his first two seasons, and the remaining two seasons was a backup behind guys like Kwity Paye, Aidan Hutchinson, and David Ojabo, so didn’t get much notoriety or production. However, he finally got a chance to show what he can do as a graduate student at Wake Forest, and he put together an impressive season, leading the team in sacks (8) and putting together some good tape to go along with his overall great traits for an edge rusher.

TRAITS

Vilain turned 24 in March.

COLLEGE STATS

Scouting Reports:

SUMMARY: Luiji Vilain (vill-ANE) was born and raised in the Ottawa area before enrolling at Episcopal High (Va.) prior to his junior season. He finished his senior year with 45 tackles and 8.0 sacks and was an Under Armour All-American. A four-star recruit, he was a top-five defensive end in the class and committed to Michigan. He struggled to see playing time over his first four years in Ann Arbor and transferred to Wake Forest for his final season in 2021, leading the team in sacks. Vilain has excellent upfield burst, with flexibility and bend at the top of his rush. He looks the part with long arms and large hands to fight his way through the shoulder of blockers, but he must develop his pass-rush plan and counters to keep his rush alive. He tends to be a half-second late tracking the ball in the run game. Overall, Vilain doesn’t have the established résumé of a draftable player, but his physical traits are NFL worthy, and scouts believe there is untapped talent there. - Dane Brugler

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Vilain could catch a “project” label or a “diamond in the rough” tag, but he’s worthy of more than just a cursory conversation for teams. He never lived up to his four-star billing at Michigan and saw little playing time, but his explosiveness and upside frequently flashed on his Wake Forest tape from the 2021 season. He’s not a naturally instinctive player and lacks consistency as a run defender, but Vilain’s measurables, athletic traits and upside as a pass rusher should make him worthy of a Day 3 pick. - Lance Zierlein

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Having spent his college career at Michigan before 2021, Luiji Vilain had a productive season as a one-year starter for Wake Forest. The Canadian showcased an alluring skill set by tallying 9 tackles for loss and 8 sacks in 2021. Strong and long, his testing performance with an 8.83 Relative Athletic Score is a testament to his on-tape athleticism. Vilain appeared to develop the technical aspect of his game as the season progressed. As a result, he offers tantalizing potential as a sleeper in this NFL Draft class. - Oliver Hodgkinson, Pro Football Network

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His potential is out of this world. He definitely has a crazy high ceiling. ... The Vikings got a good one. ... He’s going to play for a long time in the NFL and he’s going to do that at a high level. - Nate O’Neal, notable personal pass rush coach.

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Ryan Wright, P, Tulane

A former quarterback in high school turned punter in college, but built more like a linebacker, Wright has impressive distance and hang-time in his punts, but only his last year at Tulane was impressive. His QB background could be a plus for fake punts.

TRAITS

COLLEGE STATS

SCOUTING REPORTS

Teams will need to balance Wright’s impressive hang-time and distance combination against his single season as a plus punter. He will need to eliminate some of his touchbacks on half-field punts but his ability to consistently punt with distance while limiting the opponent’s returns was impressive. He might not be drafted, but his strong 2021 campaign should earn him a look in camp. - Lance Zierlein

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