There is a ton of business for teams to take care of beginning tonight and continuing throughout the next several days. Basically an entire offseason’s worth of work – from signing draft picks, to re-signing free agents, to pursuing unrestricted free agents – must be done in just a few days before teams report to training camps.
The first item on the list is undrafted free agency, as teams are permitted to recruit and negotiate with undrafted players tonight and then sign those players beginning at 9:00 a.m. CT tomorrow. So, let’s take a look at a few undrafted free agents who will be on most teams radars but who also might be particularly good fits here in Minnesota.
CB Kendric Burney (UNC): On the football field, Burney was certainly deserving of selection in the draft. But he was one of several UNC players suspended this past season, that likely contributed to him being undrafted. He’s a bit undersized (5-9, 186 pounds) for the Vikings scheme and he’s also not a great press CB, so I’m not sure he’s a good fit in Minnesota. But he is a good athlete and made plays at UNC, so he’ll get plenty of attention on the open market.
LB Mark Herzlich (Boston College): I was really rooting for Herzlich to be drafted this year, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. He was at one time a 1st-round prospect, but then he was diagnosed with cancer. Herzlich won that battle and now he’ll work his way onto an NFL roster. My money is on him making a 53-man roster and having a productive NFL career in some capacity. This guy is a winner.
S DeAndre McDaniel (Clemson): An aggressive and big safety (6-0, 217 pounds), McDaniel looks the part of an NFL defender. His scouting report on NFL.com indicates he’ll be a good player against the run and as a blitzer from the line of scrimmage. But the report also says an off-field incident and problems in coverage may have caused him to slip a little bit. But he slipped out of the entire draft, and some team might get a good value by adding him to the roster and seeing if he can win a training camp battle.
DB Deunta Williams (UNC): To be honest I’m not sure what led to Williams going undrafted. From what I can glean, he’s got the size (6-2, 205 pounds) that many NFL teams like and his NFL.com scouting report says he “is a supremely confident safety who has the speed and cover skills to eventually develop into a starter at the next level. He puts in time in the film room and always appears to be in position to make a play in coverage.” Perhaps there are character or medical concerns with Williams. Or maybe NFL teams consider him to be a tweener. I’m not sure, but it looks like Williams has a chance to be pretty good.
DT Ian Williams (Notre Dame): There are a few things to concede in supporting Williams. First, he’s coming off an MCL injury this past season and he’s probably just a two-down player (running downs only). But, scouts say his compact body (6-1, 319 pounds) makes him a tough defender to block and move. His scouting report also credits him for his tireless motor and relentlessness in defending the run.
QB Ben Chappell (Indiana): Chappell was a part of our QB Collection and could be a good option for a team in search of a young QB. He completed 62.6% of his passes as a junior in 2009 and then 62.5% of his passes during his senior season in 2010; he also had a career 45-28 TD/INT ratio. I’m not sure if there will be room for him in Minnesota, but some team will give him a shot during training camp.
RB Noel Devine (West Virginia): A very productive player for West Virginia, Devine was hurt by his smaller frame (5-8, 179 pounds) and possibly by the fact that he absorbed so many touches throughout his 4-year career with the Mountaineers. But he’s quick as a whip and could be a great 3rd-down back for some team. He might even have return capabilities.
QB Pat Devlin (Delaware): Another guy in the QB Collection, Devlin played at the same school as Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco. I’m not sure why he went undrafted, perhaps it was the level of play he faced for most of his career. But consider this: Devlin was the Colonial Athletic Association’s Player of the Year for the 2010 season as he led the nation in completion percentage (67.9%) while throwing for 3,032 yards and posting a TD/INT ratio of 22-3.
WR Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State): Here in Big 10 country, we got to see quite a bit of Sanzenbacher on TV, and I came away impressed after his career. He doesn’t have great size nor does he have excellent speed or quickness. But what he lacks in those areas I think he more than makes up for in competitiveness, catching ability and grit. He makes difficult catches look easy, he’s fundamentally sound and his NFL.com scouting report raves about his route-running ability and his ability to fool defensive backs with double-moves. He plays the same position as Percy Harvin (slot receiver), but why not give this guy a shot?
QB Adam Weber (Minnesota): Another guy who was a part of the QB Collection, Weber is actually a guy I’d like to see have a shot with the Vikings. I believe his true potential was masked because of the poor Gophers football program that existed during Weber’s time on campus, and I also believe Weber is a gritty athlete who loves to compete. Maybe my instincts are completely off on this one, but I think he deserves a shot somewhere and I think he’ll make the most of that shot.
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