The Vikings agreed to terms with at least 11 undrafted free agents after this weekend’s NFL draft, guaranteeing $185,000 among three players.
A year after ponying up $140,000 guaranteed to win a bidding war for undrafted free agent and former Washington quarterback Jake Browning, the Vikings reportedly outbid the Dallas Cowboys for a player in owner Jerry Jones’ borders. Undrafted receiver Quartney Davis from Texas A&M is coming to Minnesota for $100,000 guaranteed, according to the Houston Chronicle, including a $10,000 signing bonus.
That’s why, according to General Manager Rick Spielman, the Vikings drafted just one receiver from a deep class with 11 late-round picks.
“Even though we had some wide receivers [on the draft board],” Spielman said, “we were going to attack that position in free agency.”
The Vikings also spent for former Oregon tackle Brady Aiello, who got $45,000 guaranteed, according to a league source. Former Baylor linebacker Blake Lynch reportedly received $40,000 guaranteed to sign with the Vikings.
The other eight undrafted agreements are offensive linemen Jake Lacina (Augustana) and Tyler Higby (Michigan State), defensive tackle David Moa (Boise State), cornerbacks Myles Dorn (North Carolina) and Nevelle Clarke (Central Florida), tight ends Nakia Griffin-Stewart (Pittsburgh) and Jake Bargas (North Carolina) and wide receiver Dan Chisena (Penn State), according to their universities.
Lacina’s father, Corbin, is a former NFL offensive lineman who started 41 games for the Vikings from 2000-2002.
Including the 15 draftees and known undrafted additions, the Vikings still have four openings on the 90-man roster.
“We don’t have rookie minicamp coming up,” Spielman said. “So, we’ll finalize a couple spots — I think we have maybe four spots left — that we’ll finalize over the next week.”
The NFL Draft Advisory Board gives college juniors three grades: first-round prospect, second-round prospect or return to school.
James Lynch, the defensive lineman taken by the Vikings in the fourth round, was effectively told to return to Baylor, but his 13 ½ sacks combined with head coach Matt Rhule leaving for the Carolina Panthers eased his decision.
Lynch is one of five Vikings picks who left college early; Spielman targeted them quickly, including first-round selection Justin Jefferson and second-rounder Ezra Cleveland.
“I kind of already had it in my mind I wanted to leave,” Lynch said. “But with them leaving, it kind of made it a lot easier for me and I decided that it was about timing.”
Corner, safety or both?
Fifth-round defensive back Harrison Hand was a cornerback at Temple, but he’s got a chance to play safety should coaches decide to move him, according to Vikings director of college scouting Jamaal Stephenson. The Vikings also drafted two safeties — Josh Metellus and Brian Cole — for depth.
“You see some of those traits where you say, ‘I think [Hand] has some of that versatility where he could maybe transition to safety because he’s a very physical guy in the run game,’ ” Stephenson said. “That’s not my call.”
Seventh-round safety Cole’s whirlwind weekend started with a long wait — until the 249th overall pick — and ended with him spurning the Seattle Seahawks, who had agreed to sign Cole as an undrafted free agent. But Cole was then taken with only seven picks left in the draft by Minnesota, where he’ll reunite with fellow Mississippi State teammate Cameron Dantzler, a corner drafted in Friday’s third round.
“The next thing I know, the phone rings and it’s from Minnesota,” Cole said. “I’m like, this can’t be real.”
Like Kirk Cousins, seventh-round defensive end Kenny Willekes went from a west Michigan high school to Michigan State to the NFL. That “kind of set the path” for Willekes, he said, adding he first met Cousins as one of many grade-school kids at Cousins’ annual football camp in Holland, Mich.
“Having the opportunity to play with him in Minnesota’s kind of like a dream come true,” Willekes said. “He’s someone I looked up to a lot growing up.”