Vikings coaches are excited to see their top rookies in pads, following their Thursday signings.
By BRIAN HALLFS North
There was no need for worry.
Just like last year when No. 4 overall draft pick Matt Kalil signed on training camp reporting day, the
Minnesota Vikings signed their three 2013 first-round draft picks with the team scheduled to report to Mankato, Minn. for training camp.
Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, selected with the 23rd pick, was the first to sign Thursday morning, followed by No. 29 pick, receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes, the 25th pick, had also agreed to terms on a four-year contract, according to a tweet from his agent Sunny Shah, and signed his deal later.
Terms of the deals weren't revealed, but first-round contracts are four-year deals with an option for a fifth year. With Minnesota's trio agreeing, there are six first-round draft picks left unsigned throughout the NFL.
Floyd, 22, was the highest-drafted defensive tackle by Minnesota since it selected Kevin Williams No. 9 overall in 2009. Floyd is the likely heir to the six-time Pro Bowler Kevin William's starting spot. Williams reworked his contract this offseason to guarantee his 2013 salary, but had the 2014 season voided from the contract in the process.
Floyd earned first-team All-Southeastern Conference honors in 2012. He finished his three seasons at Florida with 115 tackles, 26 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. He's expected to mainly back up Williams in his first season and be part of a rotation.
"He's quick twitch," Vikings defensive coordinator Alan Williams said of Floyd at minicamp in June. "He can anchor in the run. He's very disruptive at the (3-technique) and he has good pass rush moves. I know his stats may not have shown it. But he's been tremendous in (organized team activities). He's another one we can't wait to get the pads on to kind of see what happens when we get the pads on, if he's still productive.
"And the one thing about him," Williams added of Floyd, "I was just mentioning a second ago about young guys playing situational football, and the situations are new to them and they make some mistakes. But he's game ready. He had a good coach at Florida and they prepared him well. So it's not too much different what we're doing here so a lot of things translate over to what he did in college. We're looking for good things from him."
Floyd was projected to go as high as No. 3 in the draft, but unexpectedly fell to Minnesota at No. 23.
Rhodes fell near his projections, with Minnesota pleased to add another tall, physical cornerback. Rhodes, was a first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference pick last year and a semifinalist for the Thorpe award, given to the best defensive back in college football. He had seven pass breakups and three interceptions last season at Florida State.
Rhodes, 23, is competing for a starting job at cornerback with the Vikings needing to replace Antoine Winfield, who was released earlier this offseason. Rhodes, 6-foot-2, could pair with Chris Cook to give Minnesota two big starting cornerbacks to compete against the tall receivers in the NFC North.
"He got some hands on some balls and he's not giving up deep balls," Williams said during minicamp. "That's the big thing. Because a lot of guys like to sit on passes and you see them intercept balls and you say, 'Wow.' And then a lot of balls are going over his head. But he's not giving up either. He's tough down low and up top."
The Vikings made the aggressive move in the draft to jump back into the first round to select Patterson, 22, sending second-, third-, fourth-, and seventh-round picks to the New England Patriots for the right to secure Patterson. He could eventually become the true No. 1, downfield receiver Minnesota has been searching for, but is also a talented return man. He'll compete for the kickoff and punt return jobs right away in training camp.
Last season, his only year of major college football at Tennessee, Patterson averaged 158.4 all-purpose yards per game. He averaged 16.9 yards per catch on 46 receptions, had a 27.96-yard kickoff return average, a 25.25-yard punt return average and even 12.3 yards per run on 25 carries.
"You don't want to overload any rookie because I know he'll contribute a lot on offense as well," special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said in minicamp when asked if there is anything holding back Patterson from contributing right away. "But I think the sky's the limit for this young athlete. I really do."