Local

Kendricks starts at middle linebacker (for now) and Waynes is a fast learner

Star Tribune Sports - Fri, 05/08/2015 - 13:37
The Vikings just wrapped up the morning walkthrough of the first day of their rookie minicamp. Soon after, head coach Mike Zimmer headed to the podium to talk about his impressions of those rookies based on watching them jog around without pads for about an hour or so. So yeah, there are incredibly early impressions. Still, this was our first time for us to ask Zimmer about the team’s 10-player draft class, and I was curious to hear what he had to say about Eric Kendricks and Danielle Hunter. Zimmer seems pretty excited about Kendricks. The second-round pick played middle linebacker today and will remain at the position for the immediate future. The Vikings think he will ultimately wind up at weak-side linebacker, but they brought back veteran Chad Greenway to man that position in 2015. “Kendricks is a very instinctive playmaker,” Zimmer said. “He’s very, very intelligent. You can tell that today in the meetings and when he was out here making the calls and getting things set up. We’re going to start him at Mike linebacker and see where that goes. We believe that eventually down the road he’ll probably be a Will linebacker for us, but you never know.” The Vikings gambled on athleticism when they selected defensive end Danielle Hunter in the third round. Zimmer compared Hunter to Everson Griffen in the sense that they are both great athletes, and Zimmer believes that if Hunter buys in to what the coaching staff is teaching him, he will eventually become a pretty good player, too. “He’s got outstanding measurables. He’s 6-foot-5-plus, 254 [pounds] or something like that. He runs 4.5. Very, very smart. He’s got very heavy hands. He’s very athletic,” Zimmer said. “We feel like we can take guys like that and teach them really what we’re trying to do to improve them.” Zimmer also said he was impressed how quickly first-round cornerback Trae Waynes picked up things during his first day with the Vikings. “We just worked together for a little bit today and this is way, way, way early,” Zimmer said. “But actually, I told one of the coaches, for a young guy and trying to teach the technique that we’re doing, he caught on probably faster than I’ve ever had a guy on the first day.” One more thing to note from the morning podium session: fourth-round pick T.J. Clemmings, who played right tackle in college, is lining up at both guard and tackle during his first day at Winter Park. Zimmer will have the rookies and eligible Vikings veterans back out on the field at 3 p.m. for an afternoon practice.
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