With the starting spots secure at both the receiving and tight end positions, young players are attempting to elevate their play enough to secure a roster spot. The Vikings’ roster includes proven starters such as third-year pro Stefon Diggs, Minnesota State’s own Adam Thielen and red zone-threat Kyle Rudolph. However, it is slim pickings after those key players as depth appears to be the issue and development of younger players will be key to how the passing attack takes shape in the 2017 season.
The tight end group features one of the biggest pass catchers in the NFC. Kyle Rudolph is a threat to score every time Minnesota is in their opponent’s territory. Rudolph is now the ‘older’ guy in the room at age 27, and had this to say about the young core of tight ends.
“It’s exciting. We have a lot of talent in that room. I think those guys all bring stuff to the table that can help us win football games,” Rudolph said. “I’ve come to terms with being the older guy in the room and being the leader, so I look forward to going out there and working with those guys.”
Many sources predict three tight ends to make the roster. Rudolph is obviously one of them, but after that it is a toss-up. Rookie Bucky Hodges will also more than likely make the roster, considering the team spent a fourth-round pick on him. The Virginia Tech alum stands at 6’6” and 257 pounds, and could develop into a great player at the tight end position. My dark horse pick to snag a roster spot will be arena league phenom and athletic freak Nick Truesdell. Truesdell killed the competition in the IFL and is intriguing simply because of his raw skills. At 6’5” and 255 pounds, Truesdell ran a sub 4.5 40-meter dash. It is possible Minnesota takes a fly card on the low-risk, high-reward pass catching threat.
The wide receiver group is one that can be discussed about for hours when pondering their potential. The starters are etched in stone for the most part, as Adam Thielen will man the outside while Stefon Diggs will run the slot. After that, there are question marks all over the board.
Second-year player Laquon Treadwell is looking to make big things happen after a disappointing year one. The 2016 rookie managed to catch just one ball last season for the Vikings after big things were expected from him, as he was the 16th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. However Treadwell develops will affect both his own playing time and the Minnesota-native Michael Floyd’s playing time. If Treadwell shows promise and has a solid first couple of games, the team will probably want to keep him on the field. If he plays like he did last year, look for Floyd to find the field early and often starting in week five after serving his four-game suspension to begin the season.
Adam Thielen is excited for the upcoming season and expects big things from the purple and gold in 2017.
“I think there is a lot of hungry players on this team, a lot of players who have been here for a long time. We want to win and we want to win now,” Thielen said.