Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman came up two picks shy of his normal quota of desired 10 draft picks each year. The biggest factor to remember in this year’s equation is the trade that Spielman collaborated with the Miami Dolphins on day-two of the draft. The trade sent this year’s third round pick to Miami for the Dolphins’ third and fourth rounder for next year (plus this year’s sixth round selection).
While it left Spielman short on his quota, it does set up the Vikings front office with boat loads of ammo and possibilities for next year. Spielman has already stated that the extra flexibility that will be given next draft season will allow the team to move up with more ease if they so desire. Given the current state of depth and talent on the Vikings roster, it’s hard to imagine Spielman moving anywhere but up in the 2017 draft and honing in on their biggest position of need at that specific time.
Here’s our continuing breakdown of each 2016 prospect and how they fit with their newest team, the Minnesota Vikings.
6th Round (188) David Morgan, Tight End, UTSA
The 2016 draft class left plenty to be desired from the tight end position as the group wasn’t considered strong both at the top of the draft, or from a depth perspective. For the second year in a row we didn’t hear a tight end’s name called until the second round when the Chargers plucked Hunter Henry out of Arkansas (2015 Maxx Williams, 55th selection).
This forced scouts to dig deeper when searching for the next big thing at a position that seems to be trending downward, thanks to a pass-happy league.
Enter David Morgan, from a small school out of San Antonio. Morgan was the first player to be drafted from his school, but was far and away the best of the bunch when watching the tape of his former Roadrunner teammates.
Morgan was PFF’s number one ranked blocking tight end last season
Now before I talk up the sixth-round pick from a program you likely didn’t know existed, let’s start with why Morgan won’t be a first-ballot hall of famer.
It’s clear right off the bat that when he’s running routes Morgan lacks any type of quickness or speed that you would associate with an NFL player. Even for a tight-end Morgan is slow to his mark, and looks like he’s stuck in quicksand when coming out of his route. Burst and acceleration are things you don’t bank on with Morgan and understand from day one his limitations as a member of your passing game, specifically breaking to the ball.
Saying that, Morgan actually catches the ball really well, and his lack of speed didn’t stop the Road Runner’s from getting him involved through the air. This allowed me to see and dissect plenty of plays that showed off his soft hands and natural catching ability. UTSA also moved Morgan anywhere and everywhere from the slot, to out wide, to a wing backer, and of course in-line as a traditional blocking tight end.
I knew right when I saw this versatility that his success in moving all around the field, and understanding of how to line up at multiple positions appealed to offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Entering his 32nd season as a coach Turner is always looking for an ability to give a defense a new look or wrinkle when the opportunity presents itself.
Morgan may not explode off the line of scrimmage or out of his break (suggested by his sluggish 40 time of 5.02), but if you can get the ball in his window feel good about your chances of a completion.
While Morgan looked natural catching the ball out in space his real bread-and-butter can be found in the run game where he was one of the most dominating blockers in the country.
I can’t emphasize enough, how to maximize Morgan’s strengths and ability is as a blocker, however Turner best sees that fit.
Morgan is grown man strong with 29 bench reps at the combine and proves it when he locks on with someone down in the trenches. His physicality initially stuns his opponent allowing Morgan to put them on their heels and drive them backwards. With his understanding of proper angles and how to set himself up in space Morgan can help generate a strong push in the run game, adding another consistent blocker to your repertoire.
But don’t take my word for it, flip on the tape and check it out yourself. Or soak up the simple fact Morgan was PFF’s number one ranked blocking tight end last season, and it wasn’t even close! With a score of +31.5 Morgan blew away his peers in the blocking department and plays like a sixth offensive lineman when he stays in to help.
No, Morgan will likely never be voted to a pro bowl, or be a guy you draft on your next fantasy football team, but he is an outstanding number two tight-end that can be a huge asset in the run game.
Given the current status of Rhett Ellison it’s obvious the team wanted to draft someone that could replace him if need be. Morgan should scoop up all of Ellison’s reps during training camp as he continues to recover, giving Morgan valuable playing time and opportunities right away.
Given all these factors and the state of the Vikings tight end depth chart, it’s more than reasonable to assume Morgan will make the final 53 man roster, if Ellison can’t make it back by week one. With his blocking ability and good enough catching prowess, Turner could give him multiple looks in August and try him out in a variety of different ways.
One of those ways could include fullback where Zach Line currently stands as the team’s number one. However, given Morgan’s outstanding blocking ability it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see the team experiment with him in the backfield as well.