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Vikings Sign Rhett Ellison, Now Have 7 Picks Under Contract

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 23, 2012 – 8:21 am

On Tuesday the Vikings announced the signing of six of their draft picks, and on Wednesday morning the club made official another draft pick signing.

Rhett Ellison, the team’s 4th-round (#128 overall) selection in last month’s draft, is now under contract.

The Vikings now have only three unsigned draft picks – LT Matt Kalil, S Harrison Smith and CB Josh Robinson.


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Vikings Get 6 Draft Picks Under Contract

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 22, 2012 – 1:31 pm

NFL teams have begun the process of signing their draft picks over the past few weeks and the Vikings have jumped into the mix as well. On Tuesday the team made official the signing of 6 selections from last month’s NFL Draft.

The players who’ve signed contracts are: 4th-round WRs Greg Childs and Jarius Wright, 5th-round DB Robert Blanton, 6th-round K Blair Walsh, 7th-round LB Audie Cole and 7th-round DT Trevor Guyton.

Signing this year’s draft class is a tall task because, for the second consecutive year, the Vikings have 10 selections. Tuesday’s news that six are now under contract leaves four players who’ve yet to sign their deals. They are: 1st-round LT Matt Kalil, 1st-round S Harrison Smith, 3rd-round CB Josh Robinson and 4th-round TE Rhett Ellison.

Click here to read more about the Vikings 2012 draft class.


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Ellison Continues Strong Showing At Vikings Rookie Minicamp; More From Saturday

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 5, 2012 – 2:27 pm

The Vikings had two productive practices on Friday to open their annual rookie minicamp, and the coaches and players were right back at it on Saturday as well with two more practices. The minicamp will conclude on Sunday with one practice.

Here are a few observations from Saturday’s on-field action…

– The Vikings were able to squeeze the morning practice in and work outside before a weather system carrying heavy rain arrived, but the afternoon practice was moved inside due to inclement weather.

– I can’t say he’s the most impressive of the rookie minicamp because it’s virtually impossible to give equal attention to every player without watching hours of film, but in my eyes FB/TE Rhett Ellison is having as good a few days as anyone. Ellison is billed as a big, physical blocking-type of TE. But as I said on Friday, he’s a fluid route runner and smooth pass catcher. We recorded an interview with LT Matt Kalil on Friday for next week’s Wobcast, and Kalil – a teammate of Ellison’s at USC – spoke very highly of Ellison and described him as a do-everything type of player who is also a great teammate in the locker room. I noticed that Ellison was the last one off the practice field on Saturday morning and spent a few minutes beating up on a blocking sled before retreating to the locker room following practice.

– Saturday was a better day for WR Jarius Wright. The 4th-round pick was sidelined midway through the morning practice on Friday and then sat out the afternoon practice as well. On Saturday morning, the shifty WR was back on the field and looked good.

– The Vikings signed LB Soloman Elimimian at the end of January to a future free agent contract, and now they’re getting to see the former CFL standout on the field in Minnesota for the first time. I’m guessing they like what they see so far. Elimimian plays with great energy, always seems to be around the ball and is clearly athletic enough to compete at the NFL level. He might be undersized, but that might also not matter. Now, it’s one thing to standout in rookie minicamp and it’s an entirely different matter to standout when the veterans arrive. But so far, so good for Elimimian.

– There are several familiar faces from last year at this weekend’s camp, and one of them is that of Alexander Robinson, the former Iowa State RB who was with the Vikings during training camp last year. Robinson, a Minneapolis native, impressed in the Vikings preseason finale a year ago and now he’s trying to carve out a spot for himself on the Vikings offseason roster this year. Robinson has looked solid so far in camp. The other RBs in camp this weekend are: FB Matt Asiata (Utah), Derrick Coleman (UCLA), Josh Murray (Mary) and FB Tyler Legate (Nebraska).

– LB Audie Cole, drafted by the Vikings in the 7th round last weekend, had 2 INTs on Saturday morning.


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9 Players Who Stood Out On First Day Of Rookie Minicamp

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 4, 2012 – 4:37 pm

There isn’t much need for an introduction here. The title sums up what you’re about to read. After two practices of rookie minicamp at Winter Park, here are 9 (actually, 10) players who’ve stood out…

DT Chase Baker (rookie free agent – Boise State): A feisty interior defensive lineman, Baker may be undersized but I also like his motor and effort.

QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson (pre-draft signee – Sacramento State): One of three QBs in camp, there is no doubt he has the best – and an NFL-caliber – arm.

S Robert Blanton (5th round – Notre Dame): Practiced with energy, good size, instincts seem solid. I will also say his running mate – 1st-round pick Harrison Smith – also impressed on the first day.

RB Derrick Coleman (rookie free agent – UCLA): Runs hard and violent it appears (practices are no contact) and I saw him make a terrific shoe-string catch in the morning.

LB Soloman Elimimian (pre-draft signee – Hawaii): Size and length might work against him, but the guy plays like an animal and I can’t wait to see him practice in pads.

TE Rhett Ellison (4th round – USC):  Sold to me as a bruising, blocking type, but I think he’s a fluid route runner and pass catcher who also knows how to mix it up in the trenches.

WR Kamar Jorden (rookie free agent – Bowling Green): Made two impressive catches Friday, with one coming on a vertical route down the right sideline and the other on a crossing route where he achieved a great release off the line and ran away from his defender.

B Josh Robinson (3rd round – Central Florida): Speed is as impressive as advertised and it looks like he can cover.

CB Nick Taylor (pre-draft signee – Florida International): For a basketball player, he looked good in the morning practice. Actually, he looked good in the morning practice, period. Might have some cover skills.


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Pick-By-Pick Summary Of Vikings 2012 NFL Draft

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 30, 2012 – 10:56 am

A quick pick-by-pick analysis of the Vikings 2012 draft…

LT Matt Kalil – 1st round
Projected to be a cornerstone LT for the next decade and allows the Vikings to solidify their offensive line by moving Charlie Johnson to LG and holding a robust competition at RG among Joe Berger, Chris DeGeare, Brandon Fusco and Geoff Schwartz.

S Harrison Smith – 1st round
A 2-year captain at Notre Dame who is known for his intelligence, leadership, consistency and tackling ability, Smith will start from Day 1 at safety.

CB Josh Robinson – 3rd round
The fastest player at the Combine, Robinson has explosive athletic qualities and will compete for time at both CB and punt returner in his rookie season. If he can be the 4th CB and contribute on special teams as a rookie, this pick is a success. From a long-term perspective, Robinson could compete for a starting spot at CB some day.

WR Jarius Wright – 4th round
One of my favorite moves of the draft. Wright provides depth behind Percy Harvin at slot receiver should he sustain an injury or should the Vikings chose to deploy Harvin in the backfield or as an outside receiver on occasion. Wright, a First-Team All-SEC WR in 2011, is an explosive athlete with big-time production at Arkansas.

TE Rhett Ellison – 4th round
Seems to be a player who can fulfill the role of blocking TE and FB. No one can replace Jim Kleinsasser, but that’s the thinking behind this pick perhaps. Ellison is a blue-collar, nose-to-the-grindstone player who will quickly become a fan-favorite in Minnesota, similar to how Kleinsasser’s career progressed.

WR Greg Childs – 4th round
A great value pick here, as a knee injury caused Childs to fall from a 1st- or 2nd-round prospect last year to a mid-round prospect this year. Childs has prototypical size for an outside WR at 6-3, 219 pounds, and he also has great speed and ball skills.

CB Robert Blanton – 5th round
Blanton will likely move from CB to safety with the Vikings and perhaps even join Smith, his college teammate, as a starter in 2012. Good position flexibility here for Blanton, plus he can be a special teams contributor right away as well.

K Blair Walsh – 6th round
Walsh has a very strong leg and was one of just three kickers with a draftable grade on the Vikings board. His accuracy dipped in 2011, but also consider he was 40 of 46 as a sophomore and junior. His accuracy dipped last year because he had so many attempts (led nation in FG tries) and because he had a high number of long attempts. A good selection here because it adds competition to the kicker position with the ever-steady and reliable Ryan Longwell also still in the fold.

LB Audie Cole – 7th round
Cole adds competition to his position, and his best attribute may be position flexibility, as he can play all three LB spots in the Vikings defense.

DL Trevor Guyton – 7th round
Similar to Cole, Guyton is a late-round selection who has a chance to stick around because of his position flexibility. Guyton can play DE or DT, will add competition to the defensive line, and could contribute as a special teams player as well.


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You Bet! Vikings Select TE Rhett Ellison

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 28, 2012 – 11:47 am

With the 33rd selection of the 4th round (#128 overall), the Vikings selected TE Rhett Ellison out of USC. Ellison was a First-Team All-Pac 12 player in 2011 and leaves USC with plenty of playing experience and production to his credit. Ellison’s father, Riki, also played at USC and was an NFL LB with the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders.

Ellison, a teammate of 1st-round selection Matt Kalil at USC, weighs in at 6-5, 251 pounds, and is a versatile threat who is perhaps the team’s best candidate to replace the retired Jim Kleinsasser as a blocking TE/H-back/FB type of player. He redshirted at USC in 2007, but played in 8 games as a freshman, 13 as a sophomore and junior, and 12 as a senior. Ellison was a team captain at USC, has graduated and is now pursuing a Master’s degree.

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock was complimentary about this pick for the Vikings, which is good news. He also said that the when the USC offense was moving down the field in 2011, it at times ran through Ellison. He appeared in and started games as both a FB and TE at USC, and he figures to fulfill a similar role with the Vikings.


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