Though the league continues to reduce its collective use of fullbacks, the Minnesota Vikings have consistently chosen to bring one aboard their 53-man roster. Will incumbent C.J. Ham make the team once again under a new offensive regime, will he make an unexpected position change, or will he be challenged by an undrafted rookie?

PRESUMED STARTER

C.J. HAM

The Vikings churn through fullbacks and recently made a roster move to signify that Ham could become a traditional running back instead of a fullback.  That said, he’ll likely take fullback reps with the Vikings and be their lead blocker, should offensive coordinator John DeFilippo want one.

Strengths: Played both fullback and halfback in Minnesota. Good plant-and-drive for zone running, despite concerns about athleticism. Avoids negative yardage as a runner, even if he doesn’t get a ton of positive yardage as a big play threat. Good hands and catch technique. Great lateral agility. Phenomenal balance – perhaps his best single attribute. Decisive player, but patient when he needs to be. 37” vert at 231 pounds is incredible and a good example of the kind of power he can bring. Good understanding of run and blocking angles.

Weaknesses: Transitioning to a lead-blocking role wasn’t easy; poor pad level as a blocker. Often is second to make contact and therefore loses hand placement. Doesn’t generally gain grip on those blocks and doesn’t sustain. Power as a runner sometimes isn’t enough to overcome speed issues and means that even positive plays don’t gain that much. More often than not, didn’t move ground as a lead blocker.

DEPTH

JOHNNY STANTON

A quarterback out of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, he’s been converted to fullback on the strength of his overall athletic profile. Stanton seems to be the perfect mold of a “football player” — he does everything that’s asked of him, playing QB, LB, punt returner, four-phase special-teamer, etc. It’s not surprising that he didn’t hesitate to play fullback for the Vikings, as he never hesitated to do what was asked of him at UNLV.

Strengths: Very good balance as a runner. Jumped 37” at his pro day at 240 pounds; better than most of the roster despite his weight. Seemingly followed his blocks on designed QB runs. Willing to run through tacklers. Despite playing quarterback, played a lot of special teams snaps and has a punt block to his name, along with nine special teams tackles and 19 punt return yards in 2017. Played some linebacker as well, and was a willing and physical tackler – had an interception and another pass deflection in 2016. Was asked to block on reverses and did a fine job as a seal blocker. Good at getting downhill and playing decisively. Powerful when launching.

Weaknesses: Has never played the position before. Transitioning can be very difficult – the Vikings have had a number of players transition from offensive and defensive roles and fail – Zach Line, Ryan D’Imperio, Blake Renaud, etc. Should showcase a little more power and better pad level as a fullback convert. Never had to read traditional running plays and almost always rushed into space instead of into teeth. Sometimes had issues reading blocks at second or third level. Despite the power he has when launching himself, didn’t have opportunities to demonstrate power when planted, like he would as a fullback.


NEXT POSITION –> Wide Receivers
ALL POSITIONS

Check out the rest of the training camp guide:

Sam Ekstrom’s Position Battles
Sitting Brian O’Neill: Have “Developmental” Day Two Offensive Linemen Succeeded?
Pay Attention to Tryout Players
How to Watch Training Camp Drills
Can Kirk Cousins Be the Savior? (COMING SOON)


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