Kevin O’Connell: CJ Ham “Can do it All”

Coming into the offseason, I speculated that CJ Ham would be cut by the Vikings. My rationale mostly had to do with the dollars and cents. Minnesota was heading toward a cap crunch and their fullback carries a $3.45 million cap hit. Moving on from the veteran would have saved nearly $2 million. My guess about opting for a cut proved to be misguided; Ham is going to play an important role in the Vikings offense.

During yesterday’s press conference, Kevin O’Connell was asked about his fullback. Take a look at the coach’s response:

CJ Ham, according to the head coach (and offensive play caller), will be an integral part of the offense.

The versatility that O’Connell gets at is demonstrated in his snap breakdown from last season. Per PFF, Ham had 242 snaps in the backfield, 106 inline, 18 in the slot, and 9 out wide. He also had 60 snaps in kick coverage, 91 in the kick return, 75 in punt coverage, and 28 on punt return. The special teams, quite evidently, also benefit from Ham’s ability to do multiple things well. Overall, he was in for 33% of the offense’s snaps and 52% of the special teams snaps.

Though there are only three fullbacks ranked on PFF, CJ Ham finished first in receiving with a 81.4 grade. He was only targeted 18 times; he had 17 catches for 125 yards. 6 of those catches went for a first down. He didn’t drop a pass all year.

“I think CJ is going to have a lot of different roles for us,” O’Connell explained, “he knows that. And the best part about CJ is he can do it all. And it’s one thing to be able to physically do it all, but he’s probably right up there with a few of our other guys on the offensive side. If you teach him something one time, he’s got it and he’s ready to go execute that.”

If we can trust the head coach – and I see no reason why we can’t – then it looks like CJ Ham will be playing a crucial role on offense. His intelligence, work ethic, and versatility will allow him to do a variety of things at a high level. He’ll lead the way for Dalvin Cook, pass block, line up at tight end and receiver, catch passes, and run the ball. The ability to do multiple things well will make O’Connell’s job much easier.