Each team dreams of finding a diamond in the rough. We’re talking about the back end of the NFL Draft or still tapping into the good, undefeated talent and turning them into something worthy of a long NFL career.
For the Minnesota Vikings their history of doing this kind of thing is pretty well documented, mainly because we like to talk about them … all the time. That’s not a bad thing at all, and I’m sure every fanbase finds and highlights their team’s successes. Sadly for us, there is still no Lombardy in the trophy, so we hang our hats on all we can do.
The Vikings’ history of undefeated players ranges from solid role players to short-lived roster fillers and Hall of Fame.
We’re talking guys like Marcus Sherrels, a pint-sized dynamic punt returner and a kick returner who fills in the cornerback when needed. The Vikings returned home with 5 Punt in 9 seasons with the Sherrills, the most in the history of the franchise.
Punter Chris Cluway was also an undefeated free agent who originally signed up before being released by the Seattle Seahawks and signing with the Vikings as a rookie. Cluey’s fall from Grace came quickly but he has played 8 seasons with the Vikings and still holds the team record for the average yardage per punt.
Most recently, we have Wide Receiver Adam Thiellen, who, if you haven’t heard, is a Division 2 athlete who played for Mankato State … and got it … also from Minnesota (LOL)! Eight seasons and Thilen is still an influential force in the Vikings passing game. Relaying more than 700 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2021, Thiellen is the only player in NFL history to have recorded 8 consecutive games at 100+ yards to open a season. Continuously devalued, Thiellen continues to produce and is expected to do so again in 2022.
And then there’s GOAT, John Randall who sees himself living in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Finishing his 11-year Vikings career with 114 sacks, six Pro Bowls and six All-Pro First Teams. His 137.5 career sacks bagged the second all-time from another Vikings Alan Page, who finished his career at 148.5.
Now we are back in 2022 and this year’s roster has been (initially) compiled by the new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.
This past weekend the Vikings hosted their Rookie Mini-Camp at the TCO Performance Center. This assembly is the first opportunity for the team to get involved in their newly selected draft class but it is also an opportunity to make a final “try-out” to fill in for undrunged and unsigned players to drill and possibly open the eyes of one or two coaches. . Marcus Sherrels and Adam Thilan both took this path to find a place in the practice squad and eventually to make it to the starting list.
The only player to achieve this feat in 2022 was linebacker William Koenkeu who signed the team roster yesterday. Kwenkeu tackled 10.5 losses last season led by Temple Owls and ended his collegiate career with 183 tackles, 21 loss tackles and 7 sacks.
This is not a jaw-dropping move at the moment, and there is no guarantee that this move will work for both parties, but due to the lack of team depth in the linebackers room and their relocation to base 3-4, the opportunity is almost as much as a rookie mini-camp signer. May wish better. He’ll have a chance to showcase, a chance to serve as a depth, and perhaps find himself one injury away from getting off the field.