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Vikings Draft Class Already Experiencing 'Welcome to NFL' Moments

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — It didn't take long for Vikings rookies to have their "Welcome to the NFL" moments.

The Vikings 11-member draft class and undrafted free agents have wrapped their first week of practices with veterans, allowing them to become more familiar with teammates and the offensive and defensive schemes.

Draftees had an array of perspectives on what they consider as their moments of initiation.

It starts upfront with the playbook | By Craig Peters |**@pcraigers**

For Pat Elflein, the moment occurred in the first team meeting when he started digesting the playbook.

"Yeah, that first meeting, going over the plays, that was my welcome to the NFL moment, especially being a center, you have to be able to use your brain and use it quickly and be decisive," said Elflein who won the 2016 Rimington Trophy as college football's top center last season at Ohio State.

Elflein transitioned from playing guard to center for his final season with the Buckeyes and said that adjustment period took a few weeks. He's positive about this adjustment period.

"It's a big jump mentally," Elflein said. "First off, the playbook is a whole new level, and obviously the speed of the game is another notch up, so adjusting to all of that so far has been the biggest challenge."

Guard Danny Isidora, a fifth-round pick out of Miami, agreed that "trying to master" the playbook "is the biggest part."

"It's different. I'm getting used to it day-by-day," Isidora said. "I'm enjoying the process. I just have to come in and do the best I can."

Reps make it real | By Lindsey Young |**@LindseyMNSports**

Dalvin Cook, the Vikings second-round pick and first selection of the 2017 NFL Draft, couldn't wait to get on the football field for rookie minicamp after arriving in Minnesota.

It wasn't until the Vikings started organized team activity practices with the entire team, however, that Cook experienced his "Welcome to the NFL" moment. The running back said it was a transition learning the playbook, but things got real when he first received some reps with the first-team offense.

"Going from rookie minicamp, getting reps with the rookies, to then getting thrown in with the veterans, the speed definitely changed really quick," Cook said. "You could feel the holes close a lot quicker, and it was definitely like, 'Yeah, you need to get a step on it. You need to start working a little harder.'

"That was my 'Welcome' moment," Cook added. "When I got thrown in with the 1s and things started moving a little faster."

Safety Jack Tocho also said the reality of being in the NFL sunk in when he was mixed in with the veterans.

Tocho, who started 36 of 49 games played at N.C. State, said it's been a long time since he's been at the bottom of the totem pole.

"The biggest challenge has been taking a back seat," Tocho said. "I'm not used to that, especially after playing four years in college, and high school as well, I'm not used to being the one in the back."

Learning from leaders | By Eric Smith |**@Eric_L_Smith**

Vikings rookie linebacker Ben Gedeon said he's leaned on veterans such as Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks during his first few weeks in the NFL.

"There's a lot of linebackers in (my) position group that have played a lot of football and have a lot of experience and they know how to go about their business," Gedeon said. "Just kind of watching them and how they do their day-to-day activities has helped us a lot."

Defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo said he experienced a surreal moment earlier this week as the Vikings jumped into OTAs.

"(It was) the first day of OTAs in the locker room and everyone was getting dressed," Odenigbo said. "I was like, 'Wow, these are my teammates. I'm in the National Football League, and I need to fit in with these guys.'

"It was all business," Odenigbo added. "It wasn't like in high school where guys are like, 'Rah, rah rah.' Guys wake up every single day and have a purpose and that's how it was."        

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