Vikings Rookie Report Card: Preseason Week Three
The preseason has now come and gone for the Minnesota Vikings, and the team now has a ton of difficult roster decisions to make this week. Despite some big free agent acquisitions, Minnesota remains a primarily young team. This is especially so after making a whopping 11 selections in this spring’s draft. While four of these rookies are recovering from various injuries, we did get to see the others one final time before cuts need to be made by Tuesday. Today, we will break down these rookie performances against the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday.
QB Kellen Mond
Kellen Mond had to go into this game feeling some pressure. Through the first two preseason games, the rookie QB has had his fair share of struggles. He may have ended up with the QB2 job anyway considering how Jake Browning’s preseason has gone, but there have been rumblings of the Vikings looking into a veteran option.
It probably doesn’t matter anymore though because Mond played very well in the final preseason game. Despite a couple turnovers, his passes were far more accurate than in the previous games, and he seemed much more comfortable in the pocket.
Mond delivered deep strikes to multiple receivers over the course of the second half and flashed the dual threat abilities that made him so dynamic at Texas A&M. Of course, the fumble isn’t something you want to see, but overall this was a great performance for the rookie. Especially after Gardner Minshew was dealt to Philadelphia on Saturday for a conditional sixth-round pick, Vikings fans should expect Mond to be QB2 going into this season.
G Wyatt Davis
Wyatt Davis may have lost the starting right guard battle, at least for the time being, but RG2 is certainly available. Davis got off to a bit of a slow start this preseason as well, but his performance over the past two games should give Vikings fans a ton of hope.
Specifically this week against the Chiefs, Davis was a bully in the run game. This is a bit of a new development for the rookie guard; he’s been great in pass protection while the run blocking has been a bit of a question. On each of A.J. Rose’s touchdown runs, he did a great job of winning field position of the line of scrimmage, and he helped open up plenty of space for the RB to run through.
While his overall performance was stellar, there were still a couple lapses on some of his blocks. On Mond’s sack and fumble, he allowed his man to get through the line fairly easily, and he got tagged for holding on a Mond scramble later in the game.
TE Zach Davidson
There was one nice nine-yard reception for Zach Davidson in this game, but other than that, it was quite a stinker. Not only was the rookie tight end essentially a non-factor in the receiving game, but his blocking wasn’t much better. He was beat far too often, and he got called for holding to bring back a 16-yard A.J. Rose run.
To put the cherry on top, Brandon Dillon had a very solid game, catching three passes for 31 yards. Not only is the chance at being TE3 out the window, but Davidson’s spot on the roster may be in jeopardy as we approach the 53-man deadline.
WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette
Ihmir Smith-Marsette has already earned his spot on the roster due to his capabilities as a return man. He followed up an impressive week two performance in the return game by bringing back three kicks for an average of 25.3 yards. His lone punt return didn’t provide anything in terms of yardage, but we’ve seen what he can do in that position.
This week though, we finally saw some potential as a receiver. After his lone reception last week was called back due to penalty, ISM brought down all three of his targets for 43 yards. He also showed prowess as a blocker, especially on a screen pass to Ameer Abdullah. He did get tagged with a hold, but other than that, the rookie wide receiver did absolutely everything you would want to see out of a fifth-round pick fighting for a spot in the WR room.
DE Patrick Jones II
It was a rough day for much of the Vikings defense, other than the defensive ends. That said, Patrick Jones II did not have a great day as a defensive end. While Everson Griffen and D.J. Wonnum were putting pressure on the Chiefs QBs for much of the night, Jones struggled to make any sort of impact. The play to sum up the night was a missed tackle amidst a 56-yard TD catch and run by Chiefs RB Derrick Gore.
Hercules Mata’afa certainly had a better game than Jones this week. Jones may now be a candidate to be cut as he did not even appear on the vikings.com depth chart as of Sunday morning. He is presumably still on the team with no news being released yet, but is this a sign of moves to come this week?
LB Chazz Surratt
There was a scary moment in this game when Chazz Surratt went down with what presumed to be a neck injury. Fortunately, he returned to the game and continued to make an impact on the game. Surratt made a couple of nice plays against the run, especially in the second half.
It wasn’t a spectacular game by any means, but he didn’t have any glaring flaws either. The Vikings are pretty thin as of right now at the LB position as well. Assuming Barr won’t be able to go in week one, Surratt will remain on the roster as a depth piece and possibly as a punt gunner for the special teams.
S Cam Bynum
Cam Bynum has had a rough go of things this preseason as he tries to learn the NFL safety position. This week was a better game than the previous two, including a couple nice tackles in coverage, but it’s tough to say whether that will be enough to have a serious impact on the roster.
Myles Dorn ran in the first half of this game, and he played very well, featuring a pass defense. He certainly outshined Bynum in this preseason, nor can he be pegged with at least partial blame of an 80-yard touchdown pass. Bynum’s impact will probably be limited to special teams if he makes the team at all.