The 1 Cut the Vikings May Live to Regret

NCAA Football: Baylor at Texas Tech
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The Vikings may have been in a no-win scenario since they were bursting at the seams with tight end talent.

T.J. Hockenson is among the five best TEs in the NFL, so Kwesi Adofo-Mensah compensated him accordingly. Josh Oliver is a blocking beast, so Minnesota onboarded him in the offseason to make their offense more multiple. Johnny Mundt is an overlooked do-it-all TE3, so Kevin O’Connell will look to integrate him into the game plan accordingly.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings
Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Johnny Mundt (86) reacts with offensive tackle Brian O’Neill (75) and teammates after scoring a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Beyond those three, though, there was still some intriguing talent. Most prominently, the Vikings boasted sophomore Nick Muse and rookie Ben Sims. The former made the team while the latter moved onto greener pastures … in Green Bay.

The abundance of capable talent meant something had to give, even with the team participating in a minor surprise by opting to include four tight ends on their final roster. Sims, a talented player, now offers his services to a division rival. One wonders if the Vikings may regret losing him, especially since it came after a simple cut.

The 1 Cut the Vikings May Regret

Ben Sims was part of a crowded group of UDFAs following the 2023 NFL Draft. In the end, a trio from that cluster of players made the final roster: EDGE Andre Carter II, LB Ivan Pace Jr., and CB NaJee Thompson. If there was going to be a fourth, Sims was likely the best bet.

NFL: Preseason-Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks
Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Theo Jackson (25) and linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. (40) tackle Seattle Seahawks running back Zach Charbonnet (26) during the game at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

In all likelihood, the Vikings thought they could slide Sims onto the practice squad. Doing so would have left him in Minnesota. If someone eventually needed to miss time, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell could simply turn to an in-house solution to take over at TE.

Coming into the draft, the word on Sims was that he would be an undrafted free agent since he had limited upside. Take a look at the assessment on the NFL’s website:

Tight end with average size and talent as a run blocker but the tools to get a little better in that area. Baylor frequently used Sims as a wingback who was asked to base block, lead block and get into space on outside zone. As a pass-catcher, he lacks separation talent and is going to get what is given to him by the defense. Sims’ average traits mean he will likely need to be in a favorable situation to make a roster.

During the preseason, Sims did much to calm concerns about his ability to make plays as a pass catcher. Take a look at him catching a ball underneath before making a man miss to get the first down:

At the end of the game, Ben Sims was the one who caught the ill-fated deep ball from Hall. Unfortunately, the QB3 was beyond the line of scrimmage, but that’s not the TE’s fault. He did a nice job of continuing to work down field before elevating to make a great grab. He even had the wherewithal to try to stop the clock even if his effort was moot given the Hall mishap.

Sep 24, 2022; Ames, Iowa, USA; Baylor tight end Ben Sims (8) scores a touchdown in the first quarter against Iowa State at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bryon Houlgrave/Des Moines Register-USA TODAY Sports

By the end of the preseason, Sims had some pretty respectable numbers. Take a look at his three-game stats:

  1. N/A
  2. 2 receptions, 38 yards
  3. 1 reception, 15 yards

A trio of catches for 53 yards isn’t reason to throw a parade, but we think of the Hall deep bomb as one that would have very easily made those stats look a lot different. Plus, the interception from Hall earlier in that game appears to be a QB issue rather than a TE issue (at least per The QB School, and it’s hard to disagree). So, in the end, his day could have easily involved having gone 3/3 on his targets for a yardage total that would have been around 50.

Minnesota will get a chance to square off with their former tight end twice yearly since he’s now employed by the Green Bay Packers. The first contest between the NFC North rivals is scheduled for Week 8, just a couple days before Halloween. Hopefully, travelling into Lambeau isn’t too scary as the Vikings seek to respond to last year’s shellacking in Wisconsin.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full-time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.