Vikings add 16 undrafted college free agents

  • Article by: CHRIS MILLER and DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: May 1, 2013 - 7:46 AM

James Vandenberg will try to show the form he flashed in his standout junior season with the Hawkeyes.

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Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg

Photo: Nam Y. Huh, Associated Press

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The Vikings have agreed to terms with 16 undrafted college free agents, including Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg and three wide receivers.

The players will participate in a rookie minicamp this weekend at Winter Park, and will be joined by about 30 more college free agents who are unsigned and trying out for the team.

Vandenberg had a strong junior season, but struggled last year. He went from 25 touchdown passes in 2011 to seven in 2012. Vandenberg, who passed for more than 3,000 yards as a junior, is 6-3 and had the fourth-best overall score among 16 quarterbacks at the NFL combine in March.

Wide receivers who will sign contracts, pending passing physicals, are Erik Highsmith of North Carolina, Nicholas Edwards of Eastern Washington and Rodney Smith of Florida State

Highsmith, 6-3 and 190 pounds, had 54 receptions as a senior and 51 as a junior, scoring five touchdowns each season for the Tar Heels.

Edwards (6-3, 200) had 95 receptions for 1,250 yards and 19 touchdowns in Eastern Washington’s high-powered offense as a junior, but those numbers dropped to 37 catches for 436 yards last year as teammate Brandon Kaufman set a Football Championship Subdivision record with 1,850 receiving yards on 93 catches.

Smith, a 6-6 219-pounder, had 38 catches for 524 yards and three touchdowns.

Also agreeing to terms were:

• Defensive end Marquis Jackson of Portland State. Jackson (6-5, 260) is the twin brother of Denver Broncos defensive end Malik Jackson, who was drafted in the fifth round out of Tennessee last year. Marquis Jackson played at a junior college out of high school, then spent two years at Texas Southern before transferring to Portland State.

• Safety Brandon Bishop of North Carolina State. A four-year starter, the 6-2 Bishop had 12 interceptions and 290 tackles during his college career.

• Running back Bradley Randle of UNLV. Only 5-7 and 190 pounds, Randle was the backup to Tim Cornett and had 635 rushing yards and nine touchdowns as a junior. He declared for the draft early because he is graduating this spring.

• Furman running back Jerodis Williams. Williams, 5-11, led the FCS in kickoff returns, averaging 35.9 yards per return. He also rushed for 1,170 yards and 11 touchdowns.

• Furman tight end Colin Anderson. The 6-4, 200-pounder had 30 catches for 498 yards as a senior and is an accomplished long-snapper.

• SMU running back Zach Line. Line had 1,278 rushing yards and scored 13 touchdowns as a senior, and caught 33 passes for 229 yards. He projects to be a fullback, which means a full-time blocker, at the NFL level. He’s 6-1 and 232 pounds.

• Ohio State linebacker Nathan Williams. Williams had microfracture knee surgery and missed most of the 2011 season after a strong 2010 He played a pass-rushing position last year for the Buckeyes and had 3½ sacks. He is 6-3 and 240 pounds.

• Georgia Southern safety Darius Eubanks (6-1, 215); North Carolina State center Camden Wentz (6-3, 300); Glenville State offensive tackle Mark Jackson (6-6, 320); Kentucky defensive end Collins Ukwu (6-4, 260); and Florida State defensive tackle Anthony McCloud (6-2, 305).

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