The Minnesota Vikings made a move to create an open roster spot amid their Week 7 bye.
Minnesota released wide receiver Blake Proehl on Tuesday, October 18, after the second-year wide receiver was activated to the 53-man roster off the injured reserve list. Fortunately for Proehl, he was signed to practice squad late Wednesday afternoon.
The son of Super Bowl-winning St. Louis Rams wide receiver Ricky Proehl, Blake signed with the Vikings after going undrafted in 2021 — passing on offers from four other teams, including the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.
A small-school prospect, Proehl modeled himself after Adam Thielen.
“People ask me who I model my game after, and I say Adam Thielen,” Blake told the Pioneer Press in May 2021. “I love how he’s a student of the game, and I love his route running.”
Releasing Proehl created an open roster to spot, which the Vikings filled by signing former Rams edge rusher Benton Whitley.
Vikings at 5-1 Could Make More Moves
While the Vikings haven’t had the most dominant of victories through six weeks this season, Minnesota has shown a resilience that has helped the team climb to the top of NFL power rankings.
The Vikings landed at No. 4 in ESPN’s October 18 power rankings entering their Week 7 bye week and are currently second in the NFC behind only the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles (6-0).
With one of the league’s lightest schedules remaining, the Vikings could position themselves into contention for a first-round bye if they can continue adding to their four-game winning streak.
However, that may be difficult with some numbers suggesting regression while the team ironically has many areas they could also improve upon. Minnesota currently ranks 17th in overall DVOA (strength) by Football Outsiders, which says the team’s performance so far this season should have yielded 2.8 wins.
The Vikings have created some of their own luck with three fourth-quarter comebacks that have come with some fortunate breaks their way, including late forced turnovers by the defense. But if Minnesota hopes to improve upon its record, the Vikings are going to have to start playing more consistently and not leaving games up for the taking to the final minutes — an all-too-familiar trend with 27 games since 2020 being decided by a single possession.
While the Vikings do not have cap space to make any significant signings at the moment, restructuring a few deals could open the books up to make several improvements to the roster entering the next leg of the schedule, which Football Outsiders deems the sixth-easiest remaining schedule by opposing DVOA.
A few key moves approaching the November 1 trade deadline could catapult the Vikings into serious contention while they remain under the radar of national media.
Key Positions to Address
The biggest improvements Minnesota could benefit from are largely the offense executing better and the defense playing more stout.
Many of the problems can’t be remedied by adding one player to the fold, however, depth will be vital moving down the stretch.
More depth at cornerback could offer more confidence in defensive coordinator Ed Donatell to blitz and play less zone coverage. Second-round rookie Andrew Booth Jr. is poised to start seeing playing time after recovering from a quad injury. The Vikings could also benefit from a rotational run-stuffer.
Meanwhile, on offense, another wide receiver could give the Vikings another weapon to add wrinkles to the offense.