The Minnesota Vikings occasionally discover a local talent that turns out to be a diamond in the rough. The latest was cornerback Marcus Sherels. The new Twin Cities sleeper on the verge of making an impact for the Vikings is wide receiver Adam Thielen.
A Minnesota State – Mankato product, Thielen landed a spot on the Vikings’ training camp roster after putting on a show during the team’s minicamp back in May. During his short time with the team, he stood out amongst a group of young receivers that included 2013 first-rounder Cordarrelle Patterson and fellow MSUM alum LaMark Brown.
Although it was a surprise to see the small-school stud stand out, his impressive performance during Vikings camp wasn’t as shocking as you would think. Throughout his collegiate career at Mankato, the 6’1’’, 192-pound Thielen consistently made his mark for the Mavericks’ passing game. During his senior season, he hauled in 74 passes for 1,176 yards and eight touchdowns, more than doubling the production of the No. 2 receiver. He also created sparks as a punt returner, averaging 10 yards per return and taking one punt to the house.
Aside from the production, Thielen has the size/speed combo to be an effective split end in the NFL. During his time at Mankato, he showed a knack for making big plays and was a reliable option for whoever the Mavericks had enter center. That type of playmaking ability can easily translate to the professional level.
Once training camp kicks off, Thielen will wage war with the rest of the Vikings’ young wide receivers for the final spot on the depth chart. The Minnesota native will look to outperform several hopefuls including Brown, Joe Webb, Stephen Burton, Chris Summers, Erik Highsmith and Rodney Smith.
In all reality, the odds of Thielen making the 53-man roster are slim. He’s never faced NFL-caliber competition and the Vikings don’t have nearly as much invested in him as some of the other options. His experience, production and raw talent, though, make him an intriguing option for the practice squad. The long-term potential is there for Thielen to develop into a quality pass-catcher for the Vikings.
Training camp will give us a better idea of where Thielen stands in terms of earning a roster spot with the Vikings. If he can play with the same tenacity and electricity that he showed during minicamp, the Mankato product sticking with the Vikings isn’t completely out of the question.