Receivers coach Darrell Hazell began making calls Saturday soon after the Vikings made their final pick in the NFL draft. Jake Wieneke was still watching teams draft when his phone rang.
Hazell told Wieneke, the Maple Grove native, the Vikings wanted to sign him as a priority undrafted free agent. Now the South Dakota State product wanted to go undrafted.
“The last five picks,” Wieneke said, “I’m like, ‘Please don’t pick me, please don’t pick me.’ ”
Wieneke got his wish, becoming one of at least 13 undrafted free agents (they have room for more) expected to sign when the Vikings finalize the class Monday. The Vikings didn’t draft a receiver, instead “aggressively” targeting top free agents at the position afterward, according to General Manager Rick Spielman.
“I think we were able to accomplish that,” Spielman said following the draft.
Wieneke (6-4, 221 pounds) went undrafted despite setting records at South Dakota State. He left the program as the entire Missouri Valley Football Conference career leader in receptions (288), receiving yards (5,157) and receiving touchdowns (59).
He hopes to follow in a path blazed by Adam Thielen, the Vikings’ leading receiver who went undrafted from Division II Minnesota State Mankato. The two have worked out together before, and Thielen was quick to welcome Wieneke into the fold.
“He sent me a text [Saturday],” Wieneke said. “Made my day. Perfect guy to learn from.”
The Vikings’ predraft roster comprised about 43 percent players who were once undrafted. They will find contributors in this class, too, just as past groups have produced players such as Thielen, Marcus Sherels and C.J. Ham.
“Had some friends over,” Wieneke said. “A couple are Packers fans who became Vikings fans yesterday.”
More receivers to sign
The Vikings are expected to sign at least two more undrafted receivers in Oklahoma’s Jeff Badet and Southern Mississippi’s Korey Robertson, according to the Hattiesburg (Miss.) American.
Badet (6-0, 185 pounds) is an experienced kick returner who had 108 catches for 1,785 yards and 10 touchdowns in four seasons for the Sooners. Oklahoma used Badet as a versatile weapon, giving him seven runs for 66 yards.
Robertson (6-1, 212 pounds) sprouted into an All-Conference USA selection with a standout season last fall catching 76 passes for 1,106 yards and 12 touchdowns.
One of the Vikings’ expected free agents, former Texas cornerback Holton Hill, according to the Sacramento Bee, was suspended for the last month of the season for violating team rules. He then left the Longhorns a year early.
“Holton Hill is intriguing,” NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock said during a predraft conference call, “He’s had some off-the-field stuff, obviously, but he’s a long, press corner kind of guy you draw up when you’re looking at corners.”
Teams shied from drafting Hill (6-2, 196 pounds) even though he was evaluated well on the field before being suspended for a reason not yet known publicly. Hill intercepted two passes, both returned for touchdowns, and had 51 tackles.
Three RBs join mix
Along with Auburn’s Kamryn Pettway, the Vikings will add two more running backs: Roc Thomas (Jacksonville State) and Mike Boone (Cincinnati).
The Vikings didn’t draft a running back after taking Dalvin Cook with the top pick a year ago and retaining Latavius Murray this offseason. There is an opening for the No. 3 job after Jerick McKinnon left in free agency.
The Vikings are also expected to sign defensive tackle Curtis Cothran (Penn State), linebacker Garret Dooley (Wisconsin), defensive end Jonathan Wynn (Vanderbilt), defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa (Washington State), tight end Tyler Hoppes (Nebraska) and safety Tray Matthews (Auburn), according to the players or their universities.