The Vikings’ crop of undrafted free agents will include an athletic right tackle, a former Big Ten blocking tight end and a massive defensive lineman from Montana.
TCU tackle Aviante Collins, Michigan State tight end Josiah Price and Spartans receiver R.J. Shelton, Montana defensive lineman Caleb Kidder and Cincinnati linebacker Eric Wilson signed with the Vikings after this weekend’s NFL draft, their agents told the Star Tribune.
They are part of an undrafted free agent crop on which General Manager Rick Spielman has put added emphasis after only three undrafted free agents — Austin Wentworth, Anthony Harris and Taylor Heinicke — made the initial 53-man roster during the past three summers. Vikings standouts Marcus Sherels and Adam Thielen also once were undrafted additions to the team.
Spielman said he expects to finalize this year’s group Monday.
“We will have a couple of spots to fill,” Spielman said Saturday night. “But we were very aggressive and had a game plan of how we were going to attack this so we could get better at it.”
Collins (6-4, 295 pounds) started every game at right tackle for the Horned Frogs last season. The Vikings waited until after the draft to add another tackle after selecting interior lineman Pat Elflein in the third round Friday. Collins scored top marks in the 40-yard dash (4.81 seconds) and bench press (34 reps) during the NFL combine.
Coach Mike Zimmer added another former safety to his linebacker corps in Wilson (6-2, 225 pounds), a weakside linebacker who could compete with fellow former safety Emmanuel Lamur for the role vacated by the retired Chad Greenway.
Price (6-4, 252 pounds) was primarily a blocking tight end for the Spartans. Kidder (6-5, 269 pounds) played both defensive tackle and end for the Grizzlies. Shelton (5-10, 200 pounds) was a versatile threat at Michigan State, compiling 15 touchdowns receiving and rushing.
The Vikings also added a quarterback in Illinois product Wes Lunt, who told the Champaign News-Gazette of his signing. Lunt (6-5, 225 pounds) competed at the East-West Shrine Game, where Vikings quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski coached in January. According to verified Twitter accounts of their respective colleges, the Vikings also agreed to terms with defensive end Dylan Bradley (Southern Mississippi), safety Richie Sampson (Coastal Carolina) and defensive back Austin Tennessee (Stevenson).
Leidner to Baltimore
Former Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner’s NFL attempt begins in Baltimore during a tryout with the Ravens next weekend, he told the Star Tribune.
Leidner (6-3, 226 pounds) went undrafted and said he fielded about seven tryout offers from NFL teams, including the Vikings. The 23-year-old Lakeville South product made sure to call Ravens tight end Maxx Williams, his former Gophers teammate, for a heads up on the Ravens organization.
“I just kind of like the situation out there in Baltimore,” Leidner said.
Leidner completed nearly 57 percent of his passes for 7,287 yards and 36 touchdowns with 32 interceptions during his Gophers career. He also rushed for 33 TDs in four seasons.
Meanwhile, former Gophers receiver Drew Wolitarsky accepted an invite to the Vikings rookie camp.
A Viking’s order
Ifeadi Odenigbo, one of the Vikings’ four seventh-round picks (220th overall), couldn’t keep watching the final picks of the draft Saturday, so he hopped in his car.
“In the middle of the sixth round I’m like, ‘Mom, I’m leaving,’ ” Odenigbo said. “She’s like, ‘What, what do you mean?’ … ‘I’m getting out of here.’ ”
Odenigbo, the defensive end whose 23 ½ sacks ranked second in Northwestern history, was driving to a Chicago restaurant with friends when he got the call from the Vikings. His order was decided upon after he hung up.
“What would a Viking order?” Odenigbo said. “I think a Viking would order a steak.”