Vikings Agree to Terms with 15 UDFAs
The 2023 NFL Draft class may officially be set, but the Minnesota Vikings are not done adding young talent to their roster. Following the draft, the team announced that they had agreed to terms with 15 UDFAs. That list of players includes the following:
- OL Alan Ali, TCU
- DT Calvin Avery, Illinois
- ILB Abraham Beauplan, Marshall
- OLB Andre Carter II, Army
- OL Jacky Chen, Pace
- CB C.J. Coldon, Oklahoma
- ILB Wilson Huber, Cincinnati
- WR Cephus Johnson, Southeastern Louisiana
- WR Malik Knowles, Kansas State
- ILB Ivan Pace, Jr., Cincinnati
- K Jack Podlesny, Georgia
- TE Ben Sims, Baylor
- WR Thayer Thomas, N.C. State
- CB NaJee Thompson, Georgia Southern
- CB Jaylin Williams, Indiana
There are a few very interesting players on this list, but most notably may be ILB Ivan Pace Jr. out of Cincinnati, OLB Andre Carter II out of Army, and NT Calvin Avery out of Illinois. It also appears like there will be a kicker battle in Minnesota this summer with the signing of national champion Georgia Bulldog Jack Podlesny.
Pace, in particular, is an intriguing fit in a Vikings linebacker room that absolutely could use some additional depth behind Jordan Hicks, Troy Reeder, and Brian Asamoah. The Vikings signed Brian Flores to run an aggressive defense this season, and Pace’s combination of athleticism and toughness should be a great fit. In fact, it seems safe to suggest that he will make the 53-man roster when things are all said and done. Here is what Lance Zierlein of NFL Network had to say of the linebacker:
A rare blend of leverage, toughness and tackle obsession makes Pace’s tape a fun day of film study. He might be one of the strongest players in the 2023 NFL Draft from a pound-for-pound standpoint. He’s able to slip and club blockers out of the way with lower-body anchor and elite contact balance. He was cleared to take shots downhill by the defense, which bolstered his production, but his instincts and feel for finding routes to the ball seem to drive him. It is hard not to love Pace’s game tape, but his lack of length and speed could create inconsistencies at the next level.
In addition to Pace, Carter was a prospect that many were mocking to be taken at some point in the second day of the draft. The fact that he slid out of the draft, allowing the Vikings to sign him in this spot, is just outstanding value. His best season came in 2021 where he recorded 17 TFLs and 14.5 sacks.
2022 was a bit of a step back for the pass rusher, finishing the season with 7.5 TFLs and 3.5 sacks largely due to more attention from offensive lines. He will need to get much better at dealing with this attention to find a substantial role in the NFL, but the Vikings are betting on his upside here.
Finally, Calvin Avery joins Jaquelin Roy as a beefy presence to shore up the middle of the defensive line. Avery weighed in at 343 pounds during his pro day, and he is an extremely powerful nose tackle that will draw loads of attention from opposing offensive lines.
These prospects cannot be officially signed until Sunday, but this is a very impressive initial list of UDFAs for the Vikings.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.