The 2017-2018 NFL season is right around the corner. At this time of year, NFL teams have put into place their 90-man roster and are evaluating player’s talent through training camp and preseason games. While many fans are focused on the performance of their team’s star and fringe players, they lose sight of the players that won’t put up huge numbers but will made an impact on the field in the regular season.
The purpose of preseason games is not winning or losing, it’s about getting an initial look at all players on the roster and how they can help out the team when it really matters. Players like safety Harrison Smith and wide receiver Stefon Diggs are always put in the spotlight while other role players are often forgotten. Here are five underrated Minnesota Viking players to watch for 2017.
Five Underrated Minnesota Viking Players in 2017
With the eleventh pick in the 2015 NFL draft, the Minnesota Vikings took cornerback Trae Waynes out of Michigan State. Since being drafted, Waynes hasn’t seen the field as much as many fans have expected. With the small sample size, we have seen the highs and lows of the former Michigan State standout. From the countless pass interference calls to the game winning interception last year against the Green Bay Packers, we have seen a player that struggles at times but has tremendous potential. When cornerback Captain Munnerlyn departed for the Carolina Panthers in the off-season, a door opened for Waynes to see the field. In 2017, Waynes may be given the opportunity to start and make the most out of that opportunity.
Waynes will make an immediate impact for the Vikings secondary; his improved technique and blazing speed will help him stay with wide receivers throughout their routes. In 2016, Waynes was second on the team in interceptions despite not consistently seeing the field. With another off-season to improve, Trae has impressed many at Vikings training camp in Mankato. Opposite corner back Xavier Rhodes, Waynes will positively surprise fans with his play in 2017.
A second year tight end out of University of Texas San Antonio, David Morgan specializes in both pass and run blocking. Morgan, the third tight end on the Vikings 2016 roster, will play a larger role this year due to the departure of Rhett Ellison to the Giants. Few fans have heard a lot of Morgan, but that will change this year.
While drafted primarily to be used as an elite blocking tight end, Morgan has showed his ability to run routes and catch the ball downfield through practice and training camp. With Kyle Rudolph being the only tight end listed ahead of Morgan on the depth chart, Morgan will be given an opportunity to showcase his skills. Morgan is ready to execute anything that coaches ask, a skill that will propel him to more playing time and the recognition he deserves.
Every week, Andrew Sendejo lines up next to all-pro safety Harrison Smith. Sendejo has occupied the strong safety position next to Smith for since earning the role. While living in Smith’s shadow, Sendejo has qualities that contribute to Minnesota’s top-tier defense.
If you haven’t seen the biceps of Sendejo, be warned, they are quite large. Along with his big arms, Sendejo makes big plays for Mike Zimmer’s defense. Sendejo finished third on the team in interceptions while playing in 14 games. H is role on the Vikings defense and is to limit big plays downfield. Another year under Zimmer’s system will only help Sendejo improve.
Known for toughness and frequent cussing, Alex Boone is in his second year with the Minnesota Vikings. Boone’s first year didn’t go as planned, as the offensive line crumbled before everyone’s eyes. Boone had to play next to T.J. Clemmings, Jake Long, and Matt Kalil for the majority of the year and that definitely didn’t help him. The Vikings brought in Riley Reiff, a former Detroit Lion, to play left tackle this season which will be an extreme improvement for the offensive line.
Working under offensive line coach Tony Sparano will help Boone improve and allow him to get better at pass protection this year. Boone was a great run blocking guard for the San Francisco 49ers, and being surrounded by similar talent in 2017, Boone will be able to focus on his assignments and help the Vikings running game prosper once again.
On December twelfth of last year, Michael Floyd was arrested for a DUI after sporting a blood alcohol level of .217 (almost three times the legal limit). After the incident, Michael Floyd was released by the Arizona Cardinals and later signed by the New England Patriots. After winning Superbowl 51 with the Patriots, they decided to let Floyd leave in free agency. Floyd signed with his hometown team in Minnesota and realizes this may be his last chance to make an impact on an NFL roster.
Throughout training camp, Floyd has looked like the Notre Dame star he once was. Floyd has surprised many coaches and fans this off season and they are ready to see his impact on the field.
While fans are eager to see Floyd in regular season action, they will have to wait. Floyd was given a four game suspension by the NFL that he will serve before seeing the field. If Floyd can stay clean off the field and keep working hard in practice, he could put up great numbers for the Vikings this season.