Vikings Sign First-Round Draft Picks, Set Sail for Training Camp
Before heading to Mankato for check-in at Training Camp between noon and 4 PM, Sharrif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes, and Cordarrelle Patterson sat down with team VP Rob Brzezinski to sign their rookie contracts. For some Vikings fans, the signings couldn't have come at a more perfect time.
Kevin Williams, on the verge of turning 33 years old, is heading into the final year of his contract with the Vikings. His age and impending free agency may leave a void that Floyd will slowly work his way into. As for this season, I expect a player of his caliber to set foot on the field, but in certain situations and behind Kevin Williams. Now that Floyd is signed, he can focus on improving behind Williams and helping the defensive line with his quickness and pass rushing skills (115 tackles, 26.0 TFL and 4.5 sacks in three years at Florida.)
Xavier Rhodes is expected to replace the recently-departed Antoine Winfield, who ranked as PFF's top cornerback last season and brought a physical presence to Minnesota's stout run defense. Though the release was understandable given Winfield's age and injury history, the pressure on both Rhodes and Chris Cook is immense. While they project to form one of the league's tallest and biggest cornerback tandems, they will need to consistently cover the best of the NFC North's receivers (CALVIN JOHNSON) and defend against the run in Minnesota's Tampa 2 system. Like Floyd, now that the contract talk is behind him, Rhodes can use training camp to learn from Chris Cook, the coaching staff, and the film from every practice.
The wild card, Cordarrelle Patterson, is officially a Minnesota Viking. The one-year wonder at Tennessee, who led the SEC in all-purpose yards last season, may contribute in much the same way he did as a Vol. I expect to see him returning punts and/or kickoff returns, lining up in the backfield, and shifting interchangeably between WR positions during the upcoming season. The criticism that Patterson may lack a "Football IQ" is partially true, but the presence of Greg Jennings in the locker room and Patterson's involvement at rookie camp will help is progression immensely as Training Camp begins.
With all three picks signed, its a good day to be a Vikings fan. But, the season hasn't begun, and there's still a lot of work to be done. I'm looking forward to the latest developments and headlines coming out of Mankato!