EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Highly-touted draft picks, undrafted free agents and players invited on a tryout basis arrived at Winter Park Thursday evening for their first footsteps into the Vikings locker room and an orientation tour and meeting.
The players will join a few non-rookie young players to participate in a three-day minicamp at the team's headquarters, allowing coaches to work directly with players and assess their professionalism. There's four general groups to watch this weekend:
Debut of draft picks
Who doesn't enjoy a spin in a new car and starting the assessment process? Coaches studied film of these players leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, but sometimes a player's assignment on a particular play may be unknown. Vikings coaches, however, will know what they want to see from players and begin taking notes on the ways that players respond to coaching.
An element to this year that should excite Vikings fans is that all 10 draft picks signed their contracts Thursday. The guidelines in the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement have helped reduce haggling, but some picks across the league in recent years have toed the line to the start of training camp in July.
The Vikings 2015 draft class includes: Trae Waynes, Eric Kendricks, Danielle Hunter, T.J. Clemmings, MyCole Pruitt, Stefon Diggs, Tyrus Thompson, B.J. Dubose, Austin Shepherd and Edmond Robinson, and the group received solid grades from analysts across the country. Click here for numbers of note about this year's group.
Side note on size: Minnesota's draft class is the sixth heaviest in pounds per pick (259.3), according to weights listed on NFL.com. The Jets draftees averaged a league-high 273 pounds, and the Eagles averaged a league-low 220.5 pounds per pick.
Will an undrafted signee emerge?
View the 10 undrafted free agents the Vikings agreed to terms with following the 2015 NFL Draft.
The Vikings also announced they agreed to terms this week with 10 undrafted free agents and waived five players*to reach the roster limit of 90 players. We took a look at five players we're interested to see take part in the passing game here*, but there's also an element in the running game. The Vikings are evaluating former Boise State linebacker Blake Renaud as a fullback and signed center Tom Farniok and guards Jesse Somsel and Bobby Vardaro.
The expansion of rosters to 90 players allows personnel staffs to accumulate as much depth as possible for coaches to stoke as much competition as possible. The more that linemen learn during an offseason program, the better prepared they are for training camp when intensity escalates at the line of scrimmage. Will an undrafted signee position himself for a roster or practice squad spot by the 2015 season?
The Vikings don't announce names of the players brought in for tryouts, but they do consider them competitors for a roster spot now and down the road. After evaluating more than a thousand players to prepare for the draft, the tryout phase allows more detailed observations to be made on players that might not have been at the Senior Bowl, the NFL Combine or various pro days from coast to coast.
This group of players has an opportunity to make first-person impressions on talent evaluators.
Adam Thielen and Marcus Sherels eventually earned spots on the practice squad that they parlayed into slots on the Vikings active roster.
Coaches generally have a passion for teaching, and this staff has shown a commitment to developing young players. The drought that occurs between the end of one season and the beginning of the next offseason workout program can seem long. This weekend and advancement through the voluntary program for veterans reunites coaches with a favorite component of their jobs.