Vikings’ Rick Spielman Pays Personal Visit to Top Gophers Prospects

Tanner Morgan & Rashod Bateman

Getty Golden Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan and wide receiver Rashod Bateman.

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman didn’t have to travel far for his scouting assignment on Friday.

Spielman visited TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis to watch the Golden Gophers face Big Ten Conference rival Iowa in a game that features several top prospects, including Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman, The Athletic’s Chad Graff reported.

Bateman is projected to be drafted in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft after the junior wideout had a breakout season with quarterback Tanner Morgan. The duo helped the Gophers reach an 11-2 record for the most wins in program history in over 120 years. Bateman caught 60 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 TDs —  both sophomore records — last season while Morgan set program records for passing yards (3,253) and passing touchdowns (30).

The Vikings likely won’t chase Bateman, who caught eight passes for 111 yards and a touchdown on Friday, in this year’s draft as they’re enjoying the spoils of their No. 22 overall pick from last year’s draft in rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson.

Morgan, however, could be up for consideration for the Vikings.

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Morgan’s Draft Stock Taking a Hit

Playing behind an offensive line that’s missing two starting-quality linemen, completed 16 of 33 pass attempts for 167 yards, a TD, two INTs and was sacked four times in the 35-7 loss to the Hawkeyes.

Walter Football recently ranked Morgan the 11th best quarterback in the 2021 draft class as he’s hovered between being a Day 1 starter and a potential developmental backup as a mid-round prospect. Walter Football suggested he return to school for his 2022 season.

Morgan, standing 6-foot-2 and running a 4.79 40-time, fits the mold of a mobile quarterback who can create space outside the pocket and fit in the Vikings’ play-action, zone running scheme.

Despite his struggles this season, Morgan’s potential has not been written off as he’s played well against some of the toughest competition in college football. In the Outback Bowl last season, Morgan upset an Auburn team that took national champion LSU to the wire in a 23-20 loss in the 2019 regular season. He completed 19 of 28 passes for 278 yards and two TDs, overcoming an interception he threw on the game’s first drive. The win was one of the biggest in program history, per the Star Tribune.

The Union, Ky., native recently said that he loves watching the Vikings and has already developed a relationship with Kirk Cousins.

Vikings Draft Needs

It’s never too early to start looking at mock drafts, and while there are many approaches to take, some of the most popular sites have misread the Vikings’ needs.

Pro Football Focus has persisted that the Vikings will take edge rusher Gregory Rosseau from Miami in the upcoming draft. Here’s PFF’s profile on Rosseau:

Rousseau’s production profile is a tad scary with an 87.6 pass-rushing grade from the interior vs. only 70.1 off the edge. His 6-foot-7, 265-pound frame is only scratching the surface of what he could become and fits the Vikings profile on the edge.

While Rosseau could give the Vikings one of the league’s most dangerous pass-rushing tandems in the league with Danielle Hunter, the team has progressively developed Ifeadi Odenigbo over the past four years.

Everson Griffen was on a similar trajectory as the former Vikings star was a rotational player for four years before starting and becoming a four-time Pro Bowler.

Quarterback remains a major concern with no true successor to Cousins on the active roster, meanwhile, offensive line is likely the biggest concern. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see another high-value pick used at the cornerback position.


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