Monday, May 25, 2015

Five Undrafted Rookies to Watch in Roster Battles

Daniel House takes a look at five players that could make an impact from the Vikings undrafted rookie class. 

Updated: May 25th, 2015 10:45am

By: Daniel House

After watching tape and analyzing all of the undrafted rookies the Vikings added, you can definitely see the front office did their homework. They added several talented players that possessed middle round grades and fell due to injuries. There are plenty of opportunities for rewards from adding the five players I listed below. It won't be easy to make this roster, especially considering the deep position battles that are already present with this group. Nonetheless, you still have to add these types of players to bring competition to the current group of players on your roster.

DaVaris Daniels- WR- Notre Dame- Despite two academic suspensions at Notre Dame, DaVaris Daniels was quickly developing into a playmaker in the passing game. Daniels has good length and his ability to catch the ball is in no way questioned. He snatches passes without breaking stride and you can see that his hands are extremely strong. Daniels fights for extra yardage and isn't afraid to lower his head and pick up the first down. He needs to improve his route running by finishing his routes on a more consistent basis. Daniels is a good fit for Norv Turner's system, but does he have the intelligence to handle the playbook and scheme? In a deep battle at the wide receiver position, he will need to show he can handle the progressions of being a wide receiver at the next level. It definitely seems Daniels could be a strong candidate as a developmental project on the practice squad.

Anthony Harris- S- Virginia- This undrafted signing has to be the most intriguing move that the Vikings made after the draft. Harris was a third round talent that fell down draft boards because of injury concerns. He might not have ideal size (6'1" 193 pounds) as a safety, but what is more concerning is the shoulder injury that is holding him out of participation in team activities at this point. It doesn't sound as if this injury is major and the team likes the high upside that he can provide. Harris had ten interceptions over the last two seasons at Virginia, including a nation-high eight at deep safety in 2013. He played more at strong safety last season and was considered a very vocal leader to younger players at Virginia. Harris is very instinctive on tape and from all accounts is very coachable. The Vikings had him in for a top-30 visit and were able to land him as an undrafted rookie. The value of this signing is huge and might lead to more competition at the safety position alongside Harrison Smith.

Taylor Heinicke- QB- Old Dominion- The Vikings are still looking for a serviceable third-string quarterback for their roster. Norv Turner scoured the market to find under-the-radar players at this position. He came away impressed with Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke. Heinicke completed 1,238 of 1,829 career passes (67.7 percent) for 14,959 yards with 132 touchdowns and 39 interceptions in four seasons at Old Dominion. He played in a spread offense predicated on making quick throws. He may be small at 6 feet tall, but he has the toughness and leadership to blaze his own path. He won't blow you away with his physical traits, but he has the intelligence and the necessary chip on his shoulder to win a backup job. The door is wide open for the third quarterback spot and Heinicke is the developmental product the coaching staff was looking for during the draft season.

Jordan Leslie- WR- BYU- Jordan Leslie is a name to watch as the Vikings begin mini-camp workouts over the next few weeks. He has extremely smooth hips, speed, and size for a wide receiver that measures in at 6' 2". More importantly, it is noted by many about how strong his work ethic has become. After watching film, it is hard to believe Leslie wasn't selected at some point of this draft. He has soft hands and a top-tier catch radius, which allows him to haul in difficult passes in traffic. Finally, I came away most impressed with his ability to block downfield and play physical. A hard worker like Leslie could challenge for the final spot in the wide receiver group. However, it is very deep and Leslie might need to land a spot on the Vikings practice squad.

This video particularly impressed me with Leslie's potential:
Justin Coleman- CB- Tennessee- Justin Coleman had four interceptions and 42 tackles in his senior season at Tennessee. He missed a portion of voluntary OTA's because of shoulder surgery he had at the end of his final season with the 'Vols. The thing you can definitely see on tape with Coleman is his ability to play physical football. He is a very reliable tackler and the coaches placed him in the slot more last year to utilize this skill. Coleman has the size Mike Zimmer is looking for in a cornerback, along with the ball denial skills that are necessary. He needs to get bigger and stronger because he has the tendency to get pushed around at the line of scrimmage. Coleman won't blow you away with his speed, but with fundamental work and strength training, he can be groomed into a nickel cornerback.

All of these players have high ceilings and could be nice additions to the roster. It won't be easy, especially since the Vikings usually keep just one or two undrafted rookies on their roster. However, it could change this year with a deep roster that poses more roster battles at key positional groups. Nonetheless, the Vikings were able to add a relatively talented group of rookies to their roster through the draft and free agency.


  1. PA and Leber were impressed with tryout punter Kyle Christy at rookie minicamp. Any thoughts or info on him?

    1. I hear he has a big leg, but his accuracy hasn't been impressive. He could be worth a look.