Rookie Notes

Matt Kalil nearly perfect through two games

Minnesota Vikings 1st-round pick Matt Kalil hasn’t wasted any time living up to expectations.

According to Pro Football Focus, Kalil has allowed zero sacks, zero quarterback hits and just one quarterback hurry. PFF’s weighted Pass Block Efficiency rating ranks Kalil among the game’s elite with a 98.9 percent rating.

It’s only two games and we shouldn’t draw conclusions – good or bad – based on this small sample size. But it’s certainly encouraging for the Vikings to see Kalil hit the ground running.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Rookie Notes, Vikings Leave a comment

Harrison Smith a liability against the run?

Minnesota Vikings 1st-round pick Harrison Smith was drafted for his coverage ability, but the free safety will be asked to step up against the run on occasion. And in his NFL debut, it looked like a may be a liability in that area.

According to Pro Football Focus, Smith was lined up within eight yards of the line of scrimmage on six run plays on Sunday against the Jaguars. And in those six plays, he was 0-for-2 on tackle attempts.

Smith did make two other tackles against the run, but only in situations where he was the last line of the defense (meaning he was lined up deeper than eight yards, presumably in anticipation of a potential pass play).

Obviously this is just one game and a very small sample size, but it’s a disappointing start for Smith. To be a three-down player at this level he’ll need to improve in this area.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Rookie Notes, Vikings Leave a comment

Vikings relying on Harrison Smith

The Minnesota Vikings aren’t wasting any time making 1st-round pick Harrison Smith a focal point of their defensive strategy. Said Leslie Frazier: “We’re counting on him to be the starter. That’s why we drafted him where we did.” Smith started at free safety on Friday and was impressive in his 28 snaps, recording two tackles and knocking down a pass.

It sounds as though the Vikings are relying on Smith more for his coverage skills than his ability to get into the backfield. According to Smith, “The coaches have kind of been saying, ‘If we call your number on a blitz and you don’t make a play, we’re probably not going to send you again.'”

That may be an oversimplification by Smith, but it makes sense. The Vikings secondary has struggled immensly in recent years, and in the NFC North they can use all the help they can get. While it’d be nice to get some pressure on Rodgers, Stafford and Cutler, Smith is probably most valuable dropping back in coverage in an effort to aid the Vikings somewhat suspect cornerbacks.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Rookie Notes, Vikings Leave a comment

Vikings coaches impressed with Jarius Wright

Minnesota Vikings 4th-round pick Jarius Wright has impressed coaches with his football knowledge, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Receivers coach George Stewart stated that Wright’s route-running is still a work in progress, but he caught the attention of coaches with his ability to absorb the playbook and understand their various formations.

This is an encouraging sign for Wright, who many believed was a one-dimensional receiver and could do little except stretch the field. Wright’s speed will certainly be an asset, but it sounds as though he is putting in the time and effort to develop into a more well-rounded receiver.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Rookie Notes, Vikings Leave a comment

Josh Robinson to make Vikings debut on Friday

The Minnesota Vikings overhauled their secondary on draft day, and one of the key new additions is likely to debut in Friday’s preseason game. Josh Robinson, the Vikings 3rd round pick, missed nearly two weeks with a hamstring injury but is ready to make his presence felt.

Robinson is a long shot to win a starting job, but he has a chance to be the team’s nickel corner. He could also see an expanded role in certain matchups due to his speed, which Lezlie Frasier says “separates him from all the other players that we have in the secondary.”

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Rookie Notes, Vikings Leave a comment