The Vikings will end this week with their largest draft class since 1985 taking part in the first virtual rookie camp in team history.
A group of 15 draftees, as well as 12 undrafted free agents, will gather for an online camp as the Vikings begin the process of indoctrinating their rookies before the 2020 season. General Manager Rick Spielman said Tuesday the team’s virtual offseason program has “been working outstanding."
“With the coaches being able to show tape, the coaches installing the playbook, it’s been, just like everything else it seems our IT department has been able to develop, this thing has been running smooth,” Spielman said Tuesday.
“When the rookies start the rookie minicamp and get into our offseason program, we feel very confident they’ll be able to catch up from a learning standpoint.”
With team facilities closed because of coronavirus, the Vikings will continue taking rookies through their life skills programs with player development director Les Pico, Spielman said. They will have extra time with their new players during a virtual program that supplements the NFL’s normal spring workouts.
“The biggest difference is, with all these young guys, you want to get them on the field as soon as you can,” Spielman said. “But I know 31 other teams are in the same situation. Coach [Mike] Zimmer has talked to staff about, when we do get them in, we don’t know yet if it’s going to be an acclimation period before training camp starts, but there will be a plan in place, especially with the young guys coming in, to get all the extra time we’re allowed under the [collective bargaining agreement] to make sure we’re taking full advantage of that.”
The Vikings’ 15-player draft class has four players from the SEC, including first-round pick Justin Jefferson and third-rounder Cameron Dantzler. Spielman spoke Tuesday about how much the Vikings used film against programs from the nation’s toughest conference as a “litmus test” for how players would fare in the NFL. Baylor defensive tackle James Lynch, one of the Vikings’ fourth-round picks, played in the Sugar Bowl against a Georgia offensive line that had three draft picks in the first four rounds.
“You try to always find the best competition,” Spielman said. “It seemed like the Alabama receivers, the LSU receivers were the litmus test for corners this year. We watched every defensive lineman we could against the Georgia offensive linemen.
“Every year, it changes according to the strength of those teams and the positions, but you’re always trying to compare them to guys they’re going to have to line up and play in the NFL.”