5 Observations From Day 1 Of Rookie Mini-Camp

Posted May 3, 2013

Day 1 of the Vikings three-day rookie mini-camp is in the books, as the Vikings practiced twice in their field house to avoid inclement weather outside and also spent time in meeting rooms before and between practices.

The schedule on Friday – and for the rest of the week – was very similar to how Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier would conduct an in-season work day or a veteran mini-camp later in the offseason, so the youngsters participating this weekend are getting a taste of what the Vikings version of NFL life is like.

Here are five observations after the first day of the three-day mini-camp…

Top of the class at the top of the class
The #1 thing I wanted to see from this weekend’s mini-camp was the Vikings three 1st-round picks standing out within their position groups. Through one day, good news. Without question through two practices, the 3 biggest standouts of the day for me were DT Sharrif Floyd, WR Cordarrelle Patterson and CB Xavier Rhodes.

It’s tougher to analyze Floyd relative to his fellow defensive linemen because there is no contact allowed, but it was easy to see Patterson and Rhodes stand out. Patterson moves effortlessly on the field and does nearly everything better than the other receivers. Rhodes was dominant early and often in Saturday’s two practices, notching an INT and a pass breakup (PBU) on his first two reps of 1-on-1s.

More on Rhodes
It was refreshing to see a CB of Rhodes caliber on the field. It’s early yet and it’s only rookie mini-camp, but Rhodes so easily passes the eye test as a physical and fast CB capable of covering receivers man-to-man all the way down the field. Numerous times during 7-on-7 and 1-on-1 drills Rhodes was excellent in his drop, pedal and burst forward to react to a receiver and stay in their hip pocket to make a play on the ball or force a bad throw.

“He did some things today in this first practice that really opened your eyes,” Frazier said after the morning practice. “I think he has the game that fits what the League is becoming. Now it’s a matter of how fast does he mature and how confident can he be when he lines up in that first ball game.

Happy with Hodges
Running with the first-team at one of the outside LB spots was 4th-round pick Gerald Hodges. It’s too early to make any sort of judgment on the Penn State product, but so far so good. He displayed good hands during the individual portion of practice, and during the group install period he seemed to quickly grasp the concepts being taught by Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams and LBs coaches Fred Pagac and Mike Singletary. It’s easy to tell when a LB is doing something wrong because neither Pagac nor Singletary are likely to let something slide quietly – they are vocal coaches who aren’t shy about making their point. Hodges seemed to avoid the wrath of his coaches – for the first day, at least.

Looks the part
The Vikings also selected one of Hodges’ Penn State teammates in this year’s draft – middle LB Michael Mauti. Because he’s recovering from a third torn ACL, Mauti is not participating in the on-field portion of this mini-camp. But he is at the facility taking part in other activities, including watching practice from the sidelines. The guy looks the part from a physical standpoint, and here’s hoping he can recover sufficiently from his injury and make a run at some playing time during training camp and the preseason.

Nice arm
Former Iowa QB James Vandenberg is in camp this weekend. And while it wasn’t a great day for the QBs, you could tell very easily that Vandenberg has a strong arm. I wouldn’t characterize Vandenberg’s arm as being as strong as current Vikings QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, but I remember having some of the same thoughts after watching “Mac” throw on his first day at Winter Park.