With the NFL draft rapidly approaching, let’s take a look at the four worst position groups for the Minnesota Vikings and how they can be fixed.
By Jordan Wright
For this article, I averaged the player grades from Pro Football Focus for each position. All players who are on the roster and saw the field last season (therefor given a player grade by PFF) were taken into account. The averages also factor additions and subtractions to the roster, so for example Mike Wallace’s grade doesn’t affect the wide receiver’s overall average, while Alex Boone’s player grade will be factored into the offensive guard’s average.
The third worst group on the Minnesota Vikings is the tight end position. Two years ago when Norv Turner was brought in as offensive coordinator, one of the players who stood to benefit the most was Kyle Rudolph. Norv’s offense has historically been very friendly to the tight ends, with players like Antonio Gates and Jordan Cameron experiencing great production under Turner in recent years. Theoretically, matching Norv Turner and a player with Rudolph’s talents should have produced a wonderful pairing. Unfortunately, Rudolph and the rest of the tight end group were only able to muster a player grade of 65.48.
When compared to the rest of the NFL, the Vikings’ tight ends grade of 65.48 ranks 14th. Like the offensive guards from the article last week, it’s always a good sign when one of the worst groups on the team is still in the top half of the league.
So how can the Vikings improve their tight end group? While I have heard some people talk about drafting a tight end, I do not believe that is the best option as the Vikings already have four on the roster. Kyle Rudolph still has four years left on his contract, so he isn’t going anywhere. MyCole Pruitt is entering his second season and showed flashes in his rookie season, so he isn’t going anywhere either. With the top two set on the depth chart, Rhett Ellison and Brian Leonhardt will be battling it out for the third and possibly last available spot if the Vikings decide to only keep three on the roster.
If the Vikings have their hearts set on drafting a tight end, it will be later in the draft. A couple names to keep an eye on are Tyler Higbee out of Western Kentucky and Jerell Adams from South Carolina.
Higbee is a former wide receiver who switched to tight end and is projected to be a third to fifth round pick. However, he was just arrested and charged with second degree assault, second degree evading police and alcohol intoxication in a public place according to Pro Football Talk so I imagine his draft stock will fall leading up to draft night. I know nothing of what transpired the other night when he got arrested, but if the Vikings do their homework and decide to take a chance, Higbee has the potential to be a great receiving tight end in the NFL.
Adams is a different type of player than Higbee. While still being fast enough to be a receiving threat (4.64 seconds in the 40-yard dash), Adams is more of a blocking tight end who welcomes contact and shows the ability to set the edge on run plays. The most complete tight end in the draft, it is possible Adams is taken in the second or third round, which should be too high for the Vikings. But if he slips in the draft, he would be an interesting prospect to look at.
I believe the Vikings’ tight ends are a good group and there doesn’t need to be any major changes made. The biggest thing that’s going to help the tight ends is a better offensive line. With a line that can give Teddy Bridgewater a little more time to throw, the whole offense will open up and the tight ends should be the ones who benefit the most.
I had a lot of entries for the competition to accurately predict the order of the worst position groups. While some of the guesses were pretty close, nobody got them all in the correct order. So because of that, I will be doing it one more week! Think you can predict who the next two position groups will be? We already know offensive guard and tight end, and I will give you a hint and tell you not to include full back or kicker/punter. Let me know your guess by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), Facebook (facebook.com/ skoljwright) or on Twitter (@skoljwright). Any guesses that accurately predict the positions and have them in the correct order will win a Vikings themed prize!