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5 Storylines to Watch at Rookie Minicamp

Posted May 15, 2014

The Vikings will hold their annual rookie minicamp this weekend, welcoming all 10 of their draft choices along with undrafted rookie free agents and tryout players to Winter Park for three days of practices. While the names and faces with which Vikings fans are familiar won’t be around, there will still be much to talk about. Here are five storylines we’ll be chasing this weekend.

1. Is Anthony Barr a fit in Mike Zimmer’s defense
The Vikings obviously believe Barr is a great fit in their defense, otherwise they wouldn’t have spent the ninth overall choice on him. But how will he fit? Will he transition well to playing linebacker in a stacked position? Will he be asked to put his hand in the ground, as a defensive end would, in some situations? How does he look in run fits? These are all questions that will begin to be answered this weekend. Something tells me we’re going to like the answers.

2. Will Teddy Bridgewater stand out?
Occasionally over the years, a rookie comes into rookie minicamp and is a clear standout from a physical perspective. Adrian Peterson in 2007, Percy Harvin in 2009 and Cordarrelle Patterson in 2013 are examples in recent memory. Will Bridgewater be the next rookie to come in and stand out physically over his fellow rookies? Another question: Will Norv Turner throw the offensive playbook at Bridgewater to see how he handles it? Or will it be a “walk-before-you-run” approach?

3. Turner gets his hands on McKinnon
As creative and tenured a coach as Norv Turner is, you know he has volumes of offensive concepts and tricks up his sleeve. It’ll be interesting to get a glimpse of that this weekend when it comes to McKinnon, a player who did a little bit of everything – quarterback, running back, receiver, cornerback – at Georgia Southern. You can’t help but wonder if McKinnon will become the Vikings version of Darren Sproles, a player Turner had in San Diego.

4. Special teams will set the stage for rookies
The Vikings came away with 10 players from the 2014 NFL Draft – seven on the defensive side and three on the offensive side. But all 10…well maybe nine of 10 if you discount Bridgewater…will be on the special teams side. In order to fight for a role on defense or offense, it’s common for rookies to earn their rite of passage on special teams, first.

5. Will any undrafted free agents/tryout players flash?
This week isn’t a “draft pick minicamp.” There will be more than 10 players on the field. Following the draft, the Vikings hit the phone lines to sign undrafted free agents and invite players to their rookie camp on a tryout basis. Will any of these players stand out? A few to keep an eye on off the bat include: 6-9 offensive tackle Matt Hall, the tallest draft-eligible player this year; tight end AC Leonard, a former teammate of Sharrif Floyd’s at Florida who transferred to Tennessee State and starred there; Erik Lora, one of Jimmy Garoppolo’s favorite targets at Eastern Illinois; and Antonio Richardson, who started 24 consecutive games at left tackle for the University of Tennessee and was teammates with Patterson.