Mike Zimmer didn't exactly compare Hercules Mata'afa to Bengals star Geno Atkins

The former All-American from Washington State is having a great offseason.
Publish date:

Former Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Hercules Mata'afa is impressing head coach Mike Zimmer during Vikings organized team activities. 

Apparently so much so that Zimmer the undrafted defensive lineman to Bengals seven-time Pro Bowler Geno Atkins. 

"He's kind of been the surprise of camp to be honest with you, players are talking about him. "He can get out fo the chutes without raising up at all. He's been very difficult to block," said Zimmer in an interview with KFAN's Paul Allen

Then Zimmer compared Mata'afa to Atkins. Kind of. 

"We had a kid, when I was in Cincinnati, named Geno Atkins. He came in there and we were in OTAs and one of the quarterbacks came up to me and said, "do you think he can do this in pads?' I said, 'I don't know we'll see.' And he did. I'm not saying he's Geno, but he's so active in these OTAs. The question is can he continue to do it when we get the pads on?" 

There you have it. He likened what Mata'afa has done in a handful of OTA practices to what Atkins, a fourth-round pick in 2010, did as a rookie in OTAs. It remains to be seen if Mata'afa will become a force like Atkins has been since 2011. 

Mata'afa missed the entire 2018 season season after tearing his ACL last summer, and he's rehabbed his way back to the point that Zimmer says he's up to 275 pounds, gaining 20 pounds of muscle since his college days when Pro Football Focus gave him a second-round draft grade

As a sophomore at Washington State, Mata'afa racked up 13.5 tackles for loss and five sacks, and upped that production to 21.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks as a junior in 2017. Those numbers earned him a nod on the Associated Press All-America First Team. 

He didn't get drafted in 2018, in part because of he was undersized, according to Pro Football Talk. 

One way or another, Hercules Mata'afa is another name to get to know between now and training camp. 

Next Up

Screen Shot 2020-12-02 at 10.27.14 AM

Naked man shot by St. Paul cop charged for brutal sexual assault of ex-girlfriend

The 31-year-old suspect remains at Regions Hospital after being shot.

Lindsay Whalen

Whalen's Gophers start season with only 7 players available

Whalen isn't happy that a transfer wasn't granted immediate eligibility to play.

Screen Shot 2020-12-02 at 9.21.08 AM

Baby steals the show in Minnesota family's viral TikTok video

Definitely busting out that wobbly baby move at the next party...

George Floyd protest

Activist groups release 'The People's Budget,' call for $53M Minneapolis police cuts

The People's Budget, spearheaded by Black Visions Collective and Reclaim the Block, would cut more than $53 million from MPD's budget.

Ambulance hospital emergency

Man dies weeks after November mini bike crash in Lakeville

The crash involved in mini bike and a van in Lakeville on Nov. 9.

gov. tim walz

Walz to be joined by first responders at COVID press conference Wednesday

Some departments have been forced to shift staffing or suspend service due to COVID-19.

Eddie Rosario

Report: Twins place Eddie Rosario on outright waivers

The outfielder's time with the team appears to be coming to an end.

radio station, microphone

Christian music broadcaster revealed as buyers of Go Radio

Educational Media Foundation. operates the K-Love brand, which has a presence already in the Twin Cities.

Screen Shot 2020-12-01 at 5.04.39 PM

St. Paul police chief reportedly fires officer who shot naked, unarmed man

Chief Todd Axtell said the officer's use of force was not reasonable.


Mike Zimmer says Viking won't trade Anthony Barr

Nobody seems to know where the rumor originated from.

Zimmer on Rhodes: 'He needs to live up to contract'

Mike Zimmer wants Xavier Rhodes to return to All-Pro form.

Zimmer: 'TV doctors' were wrong about Rhodes' injury

Meanwhile, safety Andrew Sendejo's season is over.

3 takeaways from Mike Zimmer's interview with NFL Network

Zimmer talked perfection, updated Dalvin Cook and revisited the title game.

Report: Vikings owners sticking with head coach Mike Zimmer

Zimmer is under contract through the 2019 season.

Zimmer and Hunter

Zimmer explains why he called Hunter's neck injury a 'tweak'

The coach also said Dalvin Cook should return from injury this week.

Mike Zimmer

Should the Vikings extend Mike Zimmer prior to 2020?

The Vikings' head coach is entering the final year of his contract.