The Minnesota Vikings brought in a dozen undrafted rookies after all the picks were made last April. These were players who fell out of the draft for various reasons, but still have plenty of talent and ability. Just about every season, at least one undrafted free agent makes Minnesota’s final roster.
This year it’ll be especially tough with the loss of practices and preseason games due to COVID-19, but there are still players who could defy the odds and end up on the team when games finally begin to be played. Here are the four Vikings’ undrafted free agents with the best chances of making the final roster.
Of all the undrafted free agents the Vikings brought in, none has been as hyped as Davis. It’s for good reason that Davis gets so much buzz. He’s a very talented pass catcher, who many figured would’ve been drafted as early as the fifth round. He’s a big-bodied receiver who can make clutch grabs in traffic and is tough to bring down when the ball is in his hands. Despite missing a season due to an ACL injury, Davis still finished his college career with 99 receptions, 1,201 yards and 11 touchdowns.
His lack of top-end speed and that injury could be two of the major reasons why he fell out of the draft. The fact he wasn’t drafted clearly has given this youngster plenty of motivation, and he has come into Vikings’ camp with a chip on his shoulder. Davis has a very strong shot to make the Minnesota’s final roster. A lot will have to do with how many wideouts the Vikings keep. They only kept four a season ago, but that was mostly due to the fact they didn’t have a ton of talent at the position. In prior years, they’ve kept five or six receivers.
With Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson and Bisi Johnson all locks to make the team, that potentially puts only two spots up for grabs. Davis’ primary competition will be with fellow rookie K.J. Osborn, veteran Tajae Sharpe, third-year player Chad Beebe and second-year man Alexander Hollins. Osborn is likely going to be the return man, meaning he’s probably safe, so that makes it a four-way battle for one spot. Davis is definitely a long shot to win this battle, but his talent and the drive to prove he should’ve been drafted could be enough for him to win the final spot on the receiver depth chart.
C Jake Lacina
Lacina is a guy who doesn’t get much hype in any media outlets. That’s a mistake because Lacina could actually make the Vikings’ final roster. Lacina is a Divison II standout from Augustana. He’s got great size at 6’4″ and 300 pounds, and he’s extremely experienced, having started all 45 of his college games at center.
Lacina won the 2019 Rimington Trophy in Division II as the nation’s best center and also earned First-Team All-NSIC honors. He’s a standout at his level and more often than not that carries over to the next level. He also has good bloodlines: His father, Corbin, played for the Vikings in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Lacina doesn’t have an overly daunting task ahead of him to make Minnesota’s final roster. Garrett Bradbury will be the starting center, and Eflein will be the backup. The big question will be how many interior linemen do the Vikings keep? The guard position will be an open competition at both the starting spots and down the depth chart. At center, Brett Jones is currently third behind the starters, and he hasn’t done much of anything during his tenure with the Purple and is someone Lacina should surpass.
If Lacina can prove he’s one of the best seven interior linemen on the Vikings, he’ll likely make the final roster. The worst case is he ends up on the practice squad and competes for the backup center job in 2021.
The Vikings are incredibly thin at safety and that will help open the door for Dorn to make the final roster. The team is set at the top with Anthony Harris and Harrison Smith. Those are two of the best in the game and one of the top duos in the entire NFL. The concern is the depth behind those two. Unless the Vikings go out and sign a veteran, they’ll have two rookies as the backups in 2020.
The options are sixth-round pick Josh Metellus, seventh-rounder Brian Cole II and Dorn. Cole is extremely raw and likely needs a season or two on the practice squad before he’s ready to see meaningful snaps. Metellus is almost a safety-linebacker hybrid, and Dorn’s skill set is more suited to make an impact in Year 1. He not only is an aggressive tackler but is above average in pass coverage.
The only is for Dorn would be if the Vikings move Harrison Hand to safety. Hand was a corner in college but there have been rumblings about him making the switch to safety. He isn’t as big as Dorn but was battle-tested in coverage in college and could be even better in this area. The two spots could come down to three players, and Dorn definitely has a very strong chance to make the Vikings as an undrafted free agent.
Minnesota will be rolling with a very young and inexperienced group of cornerbacks this year, and even an undrafted rookie like Clarke has a strong shot to make the final roster. The team made signing Clarke a priority after the draft and gave him more money than the average undrafted rookie gets. That shows they clearly have high hopes for him, and it makes sense. He’s got great size at 6’1″ and 190 pounds and showed exceptional ball skills at UCF as he broke up 29 passes. He’s also a good tackler, who isn’t afraid to come up and support the run.
The Vikings traditionally keep six cornerbacks, and if that number is the same this year, there could only be one spot up for grabs. Mike Hughes, Holton Hill, Jeff Gladney, Cameron Dantzler and Kris Boyd are all locks to make the final roster. Clarke will be battling Hand for that final spot. If Hand is converted to safety, Clarke should be the favorite to land that final spot. He’s got the size this group needs, and also the ball skills. Clarke could potentially not just make the team, but carve himself out a meaningful role as a rookie.