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Bleacher Report – Vikings

After Treadwell, which Vikings rookies have path to make an immediate impact?

By Andrew Krammer

MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings roster is not a rebuilding effort anymore.

Following an 11-win season and division title, the front office kept most of the pieces intact and made a couple calculated moves to improve, specifically, the offense. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman reflected as such when trading out of the NFL Draft’s third round for a sixth-round pick and two selections next year. He furthered the notion when noting his job was tougher on the undrafted free agent market, where players saw better opportunities to make the roster elsewhere.

“It seems this year was a little more difficult because of the depth of our roster,” Spielman said. “Where free agency was a lot more appealing for players to come in here.”

So let’s take a look at the paths ahead for eight drafted rookies, beginning with receiver Laquon Treadwell, the leader in the expectations clubhouse. Remember, this isn’t a ranking of most capable. It’s a gauge of the current opportunity on the roster that should be taken as a general post-draft outlook.

1. WR Laquon Treadwell — A primary need was filled with the 23rd-overall selection of Treadwell, who is expected to take over the split end role in Norv Turner’s offense. The Vikings view him as one of the best run-blocking receiver prospects they’ve seen, and hope his aggressive style of play and fight for the football will push Teddy Bridgewater’s development.

2. CB Mackensie Alexander — “Even at that position,” the Vikings are creating competition, said general manager Rick Spielman shortly after taking Alexander in the second round (54th overall) last week. He added they initially view him as a slot corner, where 28-year-old Captain Munnerlyn has held down duties for the past two seasons. The investment in Alexander signals an affordable replacement for Munnerlyn, who is due $4.2 million on the final year of his contract. This fall, Alexander figures to be a special teams contributor at least, though he won’t settle for it.

3. TE David Morgan II — We first break rank at tight end, where the Vikings added more insurance. Not many played more last season than Rhett Ellison. A strong run blocker and pass protector, he was also a key cog on special teams before suffering a torn patellar tendon in the January win at Lambeau Field. The Vikings traded up in the sixth round to get Morgan, and Spielman called him “the best blocking tight end in the draft.” The University of Texas-San Antonio product could contribute as a NFL rookie depending on Ellison’s recovery. They view him as more of an in-line tight end than MyCole Pruitt.

4. LB Kentrell Brothers — The productive Missouri linebacker was looked at as a strong value in the fifth round (160th overall). He jumps in a position group that, despite having two cornerstones in place, could go a couple directions in the next couple years. It’s Chad Greenway’s final season at weak-side linebacker, where Emmanuel Lamur was signed via free agency to compete. Brothers (6-0, 245) is a middle linebacker with a good special teams background (three blocked kicks in 2015) who could have a future as a two-down defender should Eric Kendricks shift to the outside.

5. WR Moritz Boehringer — Regardless of how, the Vikings need more from the 2016 passing attack and Teddy Bridgewater. That means they’ll be open to all surprises, which may even come in the form of the German who has three years of experience, none in America. His standout athleticism, which includes 4.43 speed on a 6-foot-4 frame, drew many teams to him. On a sixth-round pick (180th overall) he lands in Minnesota, where Boehringer will first compete against professional competition and concepts, such as press coverage.

6. S Jayron Kearse — After free agency and the draft, veteran Michael Griffin and seventh-round pick Jayron Kearse were the only additions at safety for the Vikings. Mike Zimmer said he sought an upgrade next to Harrison Smith and they’ll seemingly roll with a varied group, including last year’s starter Andrew Sendejo and a couple developing players in Anthony Harris and Antone Exum Jr. Kearse, the 6-foot-4 product from Clemson, may find his early niche on special teams, from which defensive back vets like Griffin and Terence Newman are graduated. The Vikings like his potential despite inconsistent college tape.

7. DE Stephen Weatherly — Played both 4-3 defensive end and, most recently, 3-4 outside linebacker at Vanderbilt. Has the coveted size (6-4, 267) and could push for a backup/special teams role in competition with Justin Trattou and Scott Crichton. Though the Vikings’ rotation would appear set as they return nearly every defensive snap from last season, led by Everson Griffen, Brian Robison and Danielle Hunter at end.

8. OL Willie Beavers — At this point, I would expect Beavers to make the roster after the Vikings took him in the fourth round (121st overall). But there’s not a cleared path for him to contribute immediately, nor do the Vikings want it to come to that. He’s viewed as a guard, where Alex Boone is penned in as the starter on the left side. And two experienced starters, Brandon Fusco and Mike Harris, are expected to compete at right guard. However, opportunities may come quickly as half of the Vikings’ 16 offensive linemen enter the final year of their contracts.

The post After Treadwell, which Vikings rookies have path to make an immediate impact? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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