In the thralls of a big roster reconstruction, the Minnesota Vikings went a long way in building a winning team by adding 10 draft picks in last week's NFL Draft. Every year, there are dozens of players who slip through the cracks on draft weekend who eventually make the team as undrafted free agents. And every once in a while, those players end up being the difference between winning a Super Bowl in February and hitting the links around New Years. Just ask the New York Giants. They had several undrafted free agents play key roles in their championship run last season including Victor Cruz, Chase Blackburn, Jake Ballard and Henry Hynoski,
The Vikings have signed 15 undrafted free agents and will likely invite several more to the team's rookie minicamps in the coming months. Here are the UDFA signings by the Vikings (in alphabetical order):
Boise State DT Chase Baker
UCLA RB Derrick Coleman
Florida Atlantic DE Kevin Cyrille
Nicholls State CB Bobby Felder
Bowling Green WR Kamar Jorden
Penn State DE Eric Latimore
Iowa OLB Tyler Nielsen
Cal DE Ernest Owusu
Hawaii LB Corey Paredes
Virginia G Austin Pasztor
North Carolina DT Tydreke Powell
Missouri DT Terrell Resonno
Mississippi State C/G Quentin Saulsberry
Oregon T Darrion Weems
South Carolina CB C.C. Whitlock
Several of these prospects are intriguing and could very well make a Vikings roster that's undergone some drastic changes this offseason. The most interesting names on the list (and the most likely to make the team) would have to be Nielsen, Powell, Saulsberry and Whitlock.
Nielsen fits the mold of what Iowa linebackers have been for years – tough, instinctive and loves the game of football. He's a big kid at 6'4" and 245 pounds. He's smart (multiple selections to the Academic All-Big Ten team) and was elected a member of Iowa football team's Leadership Group all four years he played there. His drawback is that he suffered broken vertebrae in 2010, but if fully healthy, he could add quality depth behind fellow Hawkeye Chad Greenway at the strong-side linebacker position.
Powell is one of my personal favorite players in this year's class. At 6'3", 310 pounds, he's a squatty, powerfully built tank with some surprising agility. He has the strength (29 bench press reps at the combine) to be a nose tackle candidate in the Vikings' 4-3 defense. His knock at UNC was that he didn't make enough plays behind the line of scrimmage. New defensive line coach Brendan Daly has an interesting prospect to work with here.
If Saulberry were a quarterback, draft experts would be all over the place asking why the kid wasn't drafted. But because he plays on the offensive line, you never hear anyone griping about it. This 6'2", 302-pounder has an impressive resume that includes 50 career starts for the Bulldogs at virtually every position along their offensive line. His best fit in the NFL is likely at center, a position that would best suit his strengths – intelligence and agility.
Whitlock is an undersized cornerback with a lot of playing experience. The cousin of Houston Texans standout (and fellow former Gamecock) Jonathan Joseph never made enough big plays to be drafted. But he also didn't wither under the pressure of covering standout SEC receivers week in and week out. Could be a possible sub-package defender in Minny.
Powell a four-year contributor and leader from the defensive tackle position on a very good Tar Heels defense.
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