Photo - Aj Mansour (KFAN)
By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - Friday morning at Winter Park marked the beginning of a new era for Minnesota Vikings football. Two days after the veterans opened up the teams off season programs, Friday the rookies, undrafted free agents and tryout invitees took over the Winter Park field house marking the beginning of a new wave of future Vikings.
Headlining the group of nearly 70 players is the Vikings' 2013 draft class. With three selections within the first round of this year's draft, the Vikings are hoping to get a good amount of run out of their new players.
Sharrif Floyd - Bearing the honor of being the Vikings first selection in this year's draft, Floyd hit the practice field for the first time Friday morning. Displaying why he was originally projected to go near the top of this year's draft, Floyd displayed good speed and technique as the day went on.
Xavier Rhodes - You can't judge NFL talent off of one mini camp performance but if I had to make a pick towards which rookie I think will hold a starting job on this team day one, it would Xavier Rhodes. All the things that we were told about Rhodes were in full display at today's mini camp. He's physical, he presses well, he has closing speed and he has instincts. In fact, Rhodes intercepted the first ball that was thrown his way once the wide receivers and defensive backs broke into one-on-one drills. Rhodes deflected a few other passes in the team's 7-on-7 drill and only once was he made to look silly (it was double move towards the inside).
Cordarrelle Patterson - Filling in the role of punt returner and wide receiver, the unpolished project out of Tennessee rose above the pack Friday morning as his athleticism reigned supreme. The Vikings don't appear to have questions about Patterson's physical attributes but will work with him on a regular basis to continue his education of the game. Patterson's interesting path to the NFL may prove to be a blessing. Now that he has found a somewhat long-term home with the Vikings the hope is that he will be comfortable for the first time and roll some of that stability into professional success.
Gerald Hodges - Stemming from "Linebacker U" (Penn State), Hodges looks to fit the bill. Leading the LB group through all of their drills, Hodges rarely had to stop or redo his repetitions. Speed is likely his best asset at the OLB position and it was evident that he was a converted safety as his ball instincts shone clearly.
Jeff Locke - Locke was present at the beginning of the morning session of rookie mini camp but after the first drill hopped in a car with special teams coach Mike Preifer and went down to the Metrodome to do some kicking. It is believed that Locke will be replacing Chris Kluwe as the Vikings full-time punter this season and if today's session went okay, Kluwe could be released as early as this coming Sunday.
Duron Carter - When it was announced earlier this week that the Vikings were extending an invitation to Hall of Famer Cris Carter's son (Duron), the blogosphere blew up quickly deducing that the only reason an invite was extended was because of who his father is. Having seen Carter at this morning's mini camp session I can say that these assumptions are likely correct. To the eye, Duron looks like fits the bill. 6-foot 3-inches tall, Carter is long and lean and fairly swift of foot. Beyond that, Carter dropped the first three balls that were thrown his way Friday morning and looked as if he knew he was living on borrowed time. Body language can't tell the whole story, but it can surely point you in the right direction.
Michael Mauti - Originally on track to work his way towards a first round selection, Michael Mauti suffered his second ACL tear on November 17th of 2012. Because the injury carries with it a long road to recovery, Mauti was present at Friday's mini camps but was observing from the sidelines with a baseball cap upon his head. Currently on schedule to the field sometime during training camp, Mauti will surely be behind schedule but is expected to push for some time in the middle if Erin Henderson were not able to hold down the position.
Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Vikings' updates and breaking Vikings' news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjKFAN