Vikings open rookie minicamp, sign 3 draft picks


The Vikings opened up rookie minicamp today, and even got a few of the new guys officially under contract.

The team announced three of their draft picks signed deals: Offensive lineman David Yankey (fifth round), cornerback Kendall James (sixth round) and cornerback Jabari Price (seventh round).

Yankey is a 6-foot-6, 315-pound lineman who played at Stanford. He was projected as a second- or third-round choice, and reportedly plays very physical. James, from the University of Maine, is a bit on the small size (5'10", 180 pounds) but has a reputation for being quick. Price is the same height as James, but 20 pounds heavier. The North Carolina product is seen as fast, but lacking elite football skills.

First Impressions

As for practice, the team had a morning session outdoors at Winter Park, with another scheduled for the afternoon.

Head coach Mike Zimmer and a handful of players spoke during the break.

Zimmer (you can watch the full press conference on Vikings.com) said he's "excited" to have all the new players and rookies in, and said he biggest hurdle incoming college players face is terminology and game speed.

Three players – Anthony Barr, Scott Crichton and Yankey – will miss upcoming OTAs because their school runs on a quarter system. Zimmer said the coaches "have a plan" to keep them up to speed while they're away, including having coaches visit campus for film study.

That includes Barr, who Zimmer said had progressed from a fawn – a term he sued right after the draft – to a doe.

"He was pretty good out there this morning, with the reads and alignments and all the different things," Zimmer said of the UCLA linebacker. "I don't see [a player who had played only two years. I know that's a big thing with everybody ... but the things he's done defensively, he does pretty well."

Barr said the biggest thing he's learning is playing off the ball.

"I think now that I'm playing a little more off the ball, it'll be using my eyes better," he told the media. "Being able to key guards and key fullbacks, stuff like that. That's stuff I'm still picking up."

Teddy, Teddy, Teddy

As for the popular talking point – Teddy Bridgewater – Zimmer said he likes how hard the young quarterback has been working and studying. That includes extra mental reps during practice when the team ran pass plays, but only included one route. Bridgewater would talk through the entire play, rather than simply executing the one route.

"He would recall the whole play to himself basically, just so he gets all the terminology down, the whole thing," Zimmer said. "I was impressed with that part of what he did. Just how bad he wants to learn."

Bridgewater spoke with Vikings.com for a video after practice w(hich includes footage of his first throws as a Viking), and said he threw a bunch of balls during an "intense" practice.

"Coach Zimmer runs a really fast, up-tempo practice," he said. "I'm just glad to be back out there and throw the ball around with this group of guys."

Other Notes

Zimmer also touched on some of the later round picks.

– Third-round running back Jerick McKinnon: "I think we're going to find some things for him to do. He's short in stature, but he's got big legs and a big rear end, and he's got explosiveness."

– Yankey: Zimmer said he likes the lineman's physicality and toughness, adding the coaches haven't settled on a position for him yet. "We're playing him all over the place right now," Zimmer said.

– The later defensive backs, James and Price: "I do feel good about those DBs. ... You know, all this stuff is in shorts, so we don't want to be instant evaluators. But there's some athletic ability there. Some things to work with." Asked what the common denominator was, Zimmer said simply, "Speed and acceleration."

– The Vikings also announced the signing of undrafted free agent G Austin Wentworth; they also waived guard Josh Samuda, who is recovering from a gruesome ankle injury suffered during earlier offseason team programs.

The Vikings rookie minicamp runs through Sunday.

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