Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Three Vikings Training Camp Sleepers: Part Two

Photo: Cleveland.com
There's only 13 days until the Vikings take the field for training camp practices. As everyone patiently awaits for Coach Zimmer to blow the whistle, there's no better time to get educated on roster sleepers. Daniel House brings three more players to your attention. 

Updated: July 11, 2017, 11:15am

By: Daniel House

There's only 13 days until the Vikings take the field for training camp practices. As everyone patiently awaits for Coach Zimmer to blow the whistle, there's no better time to get educated on roster sleepers. I already identified three under-the-radar Mr. Mankato candidates, but there are additional players you should get to know. 

Aviante Collins- OT
In a position group looking for depth, TCU offensive tackle Aviante Collins could make the team if he has a strong camp. An impressive athlete, Collins has bundles of developmental potential. He is very quick and light on his feet as he gets into the second level to finish off defenders. It was impressive to see Collins’ tenacious mentality as he blocked through the whistle. His attention to the details, such as footwork, compensate for his lack of length and power. Many people see him playing guard because of his 6-foot-4-inch frame and short arms. However, I’m not sure his power deficiency would matchup well with interior defensive lineman. If he can utilize his traits as an athlete and focus on tightening up his technique, he can be a swing tackle on this offensive line. In the clip below, he holds his block with a strong anchor initially, but displays how he can get tossed because of his power deficiency. 

As a pass protector, Collins has a tendency to play tall and it gets him off balance. When this happens, he has a tendency to grab and hold. He needs to develop a stronger base and punch. If he can get his footwork and punch in sync, it would really help him become more compact. Many analysts projected Collins as a fifth round pick because of his testing numbers and athleticism. He ran a 4.88 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine and has continually shown his above average movement skills. However, if he wants to play tackle in the NFL, he must start using his hands, while tightening up his technique to become a more finesse-style player. Collins will need to beat out several incumbents on the roster, but in a position looking for competent depth, his chances improve.

Marshall Koehn- K
#KickersArePeopleToo and this position battle is going to be a talking point in late August. According to reports out of mini-camp practices, the kicker battle is heating up. This news means special teams will have extra intrigue during training camp. With the punter spot also open, the Vikings are going to have a new-look among their specialists. An Iowa product, Koehn spent 2016 training camp with the Dolphins. He has a big leg and kicked a game-winning 57-yard field goal to beat Pittsburgh in college.

During his career with the Hawkeyes, he was 28-for-36 on field goal attempts and a dynamite 86-for-92 on extra points. Many people have discussed his range during mini-camp practices. If he can be accurate and consistent, Koehn could put pressure on veteran Kai Forbath for the kicking job.

Tashawn Bower- DE
There are three words to describe defensive end Tashawn Bower: long, athletic, and very raw. Sounds very familiar, doesn’t it? Bower only started seven games during his four seasons at LSU. His amount of total reps were limited as he rotated into a talented defensive line. Bower split snaps in 2015 and 2016, notching 60 career tackles (12 for loss) and 5.5 sacks. He played as a hybrid outside linebacker during his senior season as the coaches tried to garner his unique athleticism. At 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, he is just two pounds lighter than Vikings defensive end and LSU product, Danielle Hunter.

As a whole, Bower needs to add more upper body strength to shed blocks. He plays with a strong lower body, but needs to add more active hands and upper body power to his skill-set. In addition, he must become more compact and explosive out of his stance. This was clear to see in his game vs. Auburn last year. He had a tendency to struggle off the snap and would never recover. The clip below shows Bower struggling to stay low and explode out of his stance. He doesn't use his hands and gets pushed around to the ground. He has the tools, but needs to develop the smaller details of his game to reach full potential.

More importantly, developing additional pass rushing moves and using his hands would drastically help him win. He doesn't use his hands to rip or fight through blocks, which allows the offensive lineman to level him when he’s off balance. Bower needs to explode through contact and play with more speed. If he can refine the smaller details of his game to develop his athleticism, Bower could be a hidden gem. Luckily, defensive line coach Andre Patterson is one of the best position coaches in the NFL.


  1. You do good work, no one better writing about the Vikings, really enjoyed both of these pieces.

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