The Vikings began their three-day rookie mini-camp this morning with all nine draft picks taking to the practice field at Winter Park for the first time. Following this morning’s practice, coach Leslie Frazier spoke briefly with the reporters, addressing the learning capacity of receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, the versatility of Sharrif Floyd and the team’s situation at middle linebacker. Here are a few highlights of what Frazier had to say.
On what he and his coaches wanted to zero in on with Patterson as they evaluated him in the pre-draft process …
“You always want to know how important football is to a guy when you’re thinking about taking him early in the draft like we were with CP. Once you find out he loves the game and has a passion for it, then you want to find out how much his capacity for learning is. Because that’s going to be a big part of a receiver’s transition to the NFL. The talent was obvious on tape and then of course he has to be the right character guy as well. So, combine the talent, having the character and then the passion for the game and the learning, and it was obvious for us, if we had a chance to get him, he’d fit into what we’re trying to get done.”
On how detailed the Vikings’ research on Patterson was …
“Between [General Manager] Rick Spielman and our scouts and what our coaches did in the offseason when we began to learn more about him, I felt like we really vetted him well. We had a good understanding of who he was and understood his background, how he had gotten to Tennessee. We didn’t feel like we left any stones unturned. We went all the way back to high school and talked to a lot of different people, and we felt pretty good about making the choice.”
On the team’s plans for bringing Patterson along early …
“It’s similar to what we have to do with all young receivers. And what most teams have to do with young receivers in our league. There’s just so few of those guys who come in and make an impact early on at the wide receiver position. So we’ll have to make sure he gets indoctrinated early, just like we’re doing now, into our offense and just finding out what’s the best way that he learns. And what do we have to do to make sure he has a chance to make a contribution in this first year. The obvious thing for him is the fact that he’s a good returner. But he’s a tremendous player with the ball in his hands. So we’ve got to figure out ways to get the ball in his hands and also do what we have to do offensively to include him in what we’re doing. And we think we have a pretty good plan to get that done. … I think early on, the mindset is put him in one spot, let him learn that spot and then eventually grow it a little bit. But just get him settled to begin with. We talked about some things prior to the draft about some ways that we could get him the football early on. So we do have some ideas and some ways we want to use him early.”
On what he’s looking for from Floyd as he makes the jump to the NFL …
“Starting off, his effort should always be there. And I think it will be. He’s one of those guys who plays with a high motor at all times. And that’s going to give him an advantage as he learns the game and begins to understand blocking schemes. The fact that he just goes 100 miles per hour. With his quickness, his athleticism, his power, as long as he’s doing that, the other things will come. To be able to react to certain blocks and understand blocking schemes. But his tempo should help him early on.”
On whether playing different positions across the d-line in college may have slowed Floyd’s growth …
“Yes and no. We see it as a positive because we do some things on third down where we move guys around a little bit. And we like his versatility, the fact that he’s played multiple positions on the defensive line. So we see it as a plus. On the other side of that, maybe the fact that he didn’t just root at one position could have slowed down a little bit. But not so much for us. We like the fact that he’s played multiple positions.
On whether Erin Henderson has become Plan A at middle linebacker …
"We've been talking about it. We want to take a look at some things in this mini-camp, and we'll probably make a decision after we get done, and talk about some things. But he's definitely in that conversation. Audie Cole is a part of that, as well. Tyrone McKenzie's one of the guys we'll take a look at. And then Michael Mauti, the guy that we drafted, as well. We've got some options, and Erin is definitely one of those guys we're talking about."
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