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What can Pro Football Focus numbers tell us about the Vikings’ preseason?

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings wrap up their preseason on Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans and then they will make a number of difficult decisions on the 53-man roster.

While preseason games are not the only determining factor on a roster spot, they can make the call easier if a spot comes down to two players. So let’s have a look at what the in-depth preseason numbers from Pro Football Focus tell us about the performances of some players who are either battling for a job or playing time…

Offense

WR, Chad Beebe

Key stat: Vikings QBs are 9-for-12 with two touchdowns and a 137.2 quarterback rating on throws in his direction

From the bottom of the depth chart to the cusp of earning a job, Beebe has showed his special teams ability and been effective in the passing game. The 5-foot-10 receiver from Northern Illinois isn’t physically imposing, but he has flashed a natural feel for the game on both impressive touchdown catches.

QB, Kyle Sloter

Key stat: 8-for-10 on throws over 10 yards, 118.6 rating between 2017 and 2018 preseasons

The Vikings’ project quarterback has put together his second straight strong preseason. Overall he’s 30-for-41 passing with three touchdowns and no interceptions while showing off his strong arm and athleticism. Impressively, when Sloter has thrown the ball over 10 yards he has been successful. There is no question Trevor Siemian is the No. 2 QB, but the Vikings are more likely to keep Sloter on the 53 after he performed the way they hoped.

C, Cornelius Edison

Key stat: 39.2 run block grade, the lowest of any Vikings player with three preseason games

While Edison handled the situation about as best as he could, it has become clear that he isn’t ready to take on first-team defenses. He especially struggled to get to the second level on run plays. The Vikings traded for Brett Jones to likely start Week 1 in place of Pat Elflein. Making a decision on Edison may depend on whether Danny Isidora can be Jones’ backup center.

OT, Aviante Collins

Key stat: seven QB hurries allowed in 112 pass blocking snaps

The Vikings’ second-year lineman has played left and right tackle and guard during the preseason. He has shown the potential that intrigued the Vikings last year when they signed him as an undrafted free agent, but the numbers point to some struggles in pass protection. The Jaguars particularly made life difficult on Collins. Still he’s made a good enough case in practice to be solidly on the team in a backup role.

OT, Brian O’Neill

Key stat: Zero QB hurries in 69 pass blocking snaps

Playing exclusively with the second team, O’Neill has been excellent in pass protection. It’s clear the Vikings see him as a project and aren’t willing to push him too fast. It’s been a good camp/preseason for the second-round pick as he has taking steps forward from draft day and received a great deal of experience filling in with the first team in practice.

RB, Mike Boone

Key stat: 3.6 yards after contact per carry

As he battles with Roc Thomas and Mack Brown for the No. 3 running back job, Boone’s strength and freakish athleticism have been on display. Of his 4.1 yards per carry, the majority is coming from yards he’s gained after the opposing team gets a hand on him.

WR, Kendall Wright

Key stat: Two targets in 42 passing snaps

The former Titan and Bear has been a non-factor on the Vikings’ offense during preseason. But when either Stefon Diggs or Adam Thielen have been nicked up during a game or practice, Wright has been the receiver to come in, which is an indicator of where he stands on the depth chart. Still his lack of production leaves the door open for the team to potentially let him go on cut down day.

Defense

LB, Eric Wilson

Key stat: Six run stops

Last year Wilson made the team on the back of strong special teams play. During this preseason, he has been a playmaker, blowing up run plays in the backfield and occasionally getting after the quarterback on blitzes. He appears to be a lock for a depth role and could even find himself on the field in certain situations.

DE, Tashawn Bower

Key stat: Five run stops, two QB hurries in two games

After making the team out of camp as an undrafted free agent in 2017, Bower rarely saw the field during the regular season. He has been even more disruptive in this year’s preseason and may have worked himself into significant playing time this season.

CB, Craig James

Key stat: 24 yards allowed in 46 coverage snaps

With Mackensie Alexander and Mike Hughes out against the Seahawks, James saw a huge number of snaps in the slot and played well. He might not make the roster, but could be a candidate for practice squad.

CB, Holton Hill

Key stat: QBs are 6-for-9 with 53 yards when targeting Hill

While he did show improvement from week to week, Hill may not have done enough in camp and preseason to earn a roster spot. Opposing quarterbacks have had success throwing in his direction and he had several missed tackles against Denver. If he does make the 53-man roster, it will be on his potential.

DE, Stephen Weatherly

Key stat: One sack, four QB hits in 65 pass rush snaps

The 2016 seventh-round pick has been a project player during his first two seasons. In Year 3 he may be coming into his own. Weatherly has been dominant in the first three weeks, even defending a pass in coverage against Denver. The Vikings may very well have their D-line rotation.

S, Tray Matthews

Key stat: Highest rated Vikings tackler graded by PFF

With the addition of George Iloka, it’s unlikely that Matthews will make the 53, but he’s made a case for a practice squad gig. The strong-tackling safety may end up being a project who could compete for job down the road.

The post What can Pro Football Focus numbers tell us about the Vikings’ preseason? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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