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Undrafted Doesn’t Mean Unimportant

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 13, 2010 – 9:29 am

Later this month, former Vikings DT John Randle will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Any Hall of Fame career is remarkable, but it’s especially remarkable when a player – such as Randle – turns out to be a Hall of Famer after entering the NFL as an undrafted player.

For as much attention as the NFL draft receives annually, it’s easy to forget how important undrafted players are to every NFL team. With teams required to fill out 53-man rosters and also limited by the salary cap each season, there is only so much room for high-priced players with 1st-round pedigree. This is where the importance of finding productive undrafted players comes in.

With that in mind, Pro Football Weekly recently pointed out some of the league’s best undrafted players currently on NFL rosters. And 2 Vikings made the list – LB Heath Farwell and DT Pat Williams. If you click on the link above it’ll take you to a nfllabor.com page that lists PFW’s 2010 All-Undrafted Team.

Making the Vikings roster this season as an undrafted rookie is a tough task, largely because the Vikings return 22 starters from last year and also selected 8 players in this year’s draft. But let’s take a quick look at 3 undrafted players currently on the Vikings roster who might have a shot at coming out of training camp with a job.

OT Bill Noethlich – A 6-7, 308-pound OT, Noethlich will enter camp as 1 of 14 OL, but the Vikings will be looking for versatile players who can fulfill reserve rolls. If Noethlich can display an ability to play both LT and RT, perhaps he’ll carve a niche for himself on this roster. Noethlich’s story of making the roster would be a good one because he’s a native of Doland, SD and he played college football at Southwest Minnesota State.

S Terrell Skinner – College football fans may find this name familiar because Skinner played for the University of Maryland, beginning his career there as a redshirt freshman in 2005 and playing all the way through his senior season in 2009. I’m not familiar with his injury history and I haven’t spoken in-depth with any coaches or scouts regarding Skinner, but he strikes me as a player with a chance. He was converted from WR to DB at Maryland and stands at 6-2, 214 pounds. So his size is great and his ball skills should be solid. But if Skinner is going to make the Vikings coming out of training camp, his best bet might be to prove his worth as a special teams contributor first.

WR Ray Small – The Vikings have 3 solid starting WRs and because of the NFL’s graduation rule Small was unable to attend much of the Vikings offseason program. But even given all of that, Small should come to training camp with an ambitious mindset. Although the top 3 spots on the WR depth chart are locked up, there could be a couple more openings on the roster AND I believe Small will have a chance to win either the kick or punt return job.


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