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Bleacher Report – Vikings

What we’ve learned about the rookies: TE David Morgan II

By Andrew Krammer

This week, the Vikings begin Organized Team Activities to kickstart the home stretch of the NFL offseason.

Easing into the organization, eight drafted rookies and more undrafted rookies spent the past couple weeks assimilating into the meeting rooms, on-field drills and strength programs. Competition will ramp up starting with the month-long ‘phase three’ of the offseason, which allows full team drills, but no live contact. The Vikings begin the first OTA on Tuesday.

Before that, let’s set the stage for some of the rookies with what we knew, what we’ve learned so far and what we’re watching for this summer.

Previously:

WR Laquon Treadwell
CB Mackensie Alexander
OL Willie Beavers
LB Kentrell Brothers
WR Moritz Böhringer

TE David Morgan II

Height: 6’4?

Weight: 260 pounds

Age: 23

Position: Tight end

Hometown: Marble Falls, Tex.

College: Texas San Antonio

Drafted: 188th overall, becoming the first player ever drafted out of UTSA’s fledgling football program that began five years ago

What we’ve learned

First impression

Even to this observer in March, tight end David Morgan II looked like a fit for the Vikings. He paired a big body and hands with some of the combine’s top numbers at his position in the bench press (29), three-cone drill (6.93) and shuttle runs (4.19, 11.60). Though he still had to wait deep into the draft to hear his name called. Morgan, UTSA’s first All-American selection, has the physical traits to potentially take over for Rhett Ellison, the fifth-year tight end recovering from a torn patellar tendon suffered in January.

That was on the mind when general manager Rick Spielman selected Morgan, who recalled offensive coordinator Norv Turner telling him to learn a “couple” positions for the offense. Of course that came after Morgan, a no-star recruit out of high school, celebrated a dream come true.

“It is crazy to have this opportunity in front of me,” Morgan said moments after hearing his name. “I have put in a lot of time, being underrated my whole life.”

Insurance?

Rhett Ellison steadily grew into one of the most important cogs for the Vikings offense and the NFL’s leading rusher in Adrian Peterson. He’s a versatile blocker capable of taking on big bodies on the line and as a lead blocker in the backfield. So when Ellison suffered a torn patellar tendon on Jan. 3 in Green Bay, on just his 11th catch of the season, the injury would be one of the season’s worst.

Enter Morgan, touted by the Vikings as the best blocking tight end in the draft. That’s a skill set they were looking to fill as they await Ellison’s recovery. Morgan could also have some big shoes to fill on special teams, where Ellison contributed on kick return and punt units. The Vikings hope Ellison will be available by training camp.

“We felt very strongly that was the best blocking tight end in the draft,” Spielman said. “His ability to make plays in the passing game, especially on underneath routes. And the other thing is with Rhett Ellison still coming off that significant injury, we are going to have to wait and see where he is at.”

‘Different’ addition than MyCole Pruitt

For a consecutive draft, the Vikings added a late-round tight end behind Kyle Rudolph. Last year’s fifth-round selection of MyCole Pruitt was a record-setting receiver out of Southern Illinois. Morgan is less heralded of a receiver and more for the mass his 6-foot-4-inch frame could move in the NFL.

“We wanted to make sure and he is something different than we drafted last year,” Spielman said. “This guys is more of a true ‘Y,’ on-the-line type tight end…We definitely thought he fit that bill.”

Morgan was his team’s leading receiver with 45 catches for 566 yards and five touchdowns last season for the Roadrunners. Though he spent more time blocking for a Roadrunners offense that liked to run the football (510 carries) more than throw (360 attempts).

“I did a lot at the wing back or H-back,” Morgan said of his time at UTSA. “I also did a lot pulling up in the line with the guard and tackle from the H-back position, so I think I can handle that.”

What we’re watching for

Ellison’s recovery

Should Ellison make a full recovery without any setbacks, the path narrows for Morgan to make an immediate impact. Though that’s still considered an ‘if’ just more than four months removed from Ellison’s knee injury. And it’s reflected in a one-year contract signed after the injury, which grants Ellison just $100,000 guaranteed with $790,000 tied in per-game active roster bonuses, according to ESPN.

We’ll be keeping an eye out for Ellison’s return to the field, which at this point isn’t expected until training camp. In the meantime, Morgan figures to fill the void with Pruitt and tight end Brian Leonhardt as his only healthy competition.

Exposure

Will Morgan plug right into Ellison’s role with the first-team offense? That’s something we won’t get to see until the first media-open Organized Team Activity begins on Wednesday. The Vikings used Pruitt in heavy personnel sets last season, giving him 200 snaps mostly as a blocker before he stepped up for Ellison in the wild-card playoff loss.

Remember it’s early when reading observations from May and June. This time last year, T.J. Clemmings and Tyrus Thompson were getting run as the starting right guard. It’s a time for coaches to feel out the strengths and weaknesses of their new players before training camp. So it’ll be worth watching to see if Morgan sticks where they envisioned.

The post What we’ve learned about the rookies: TE David Morgan II appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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