It is not very often that seventh-round draft picks make much of an impact during their rookie season, let alone two of them making an impact on the same team. That is not the case for the 2014 Minnesota Vikings as both Shamar Stephen and Jabari Price have been making impacts during their young careers.
Stephen is a defensive tackle out of Connecticut and was the first of three seventh-round picks for the Vikings in May. He has already proved to be a key rotational guy in a Mike Zimmer defense that does a lot of rotating along the defensive line.
He has seen playing time in every game so far this year and has recorded 22 tackles and two quarterback pressures.
At first, Stephen did not expect to get very much playing time, but as things moved along during the offseason he realized how much he has been progressing and started to like his chances of getting playing time. He gives a lot of credit for his progression to his coaching staff and what they have been able to teach him.
“Basically, just staying on top of my fundamental technique and getting after it trying to make plays,” Stephen said about what coaches have been teaching him.
Although he would always like to see more playing time, Stephen is happy with the amount he has gotten so far, but if his production continues to increase – he has had four tackles in three different games this season – his role could continue to grow.
“I’m fortunate for the playing time that I have and I’m just going to keep competing,” Stephen said.
Another one of the Vikings’ seventh-round draft picks that has been making an early impact is Price, a cornerback out of North Carolina.
Price is primarily a special teams player – where he is second on the team with five tackles – but he has also filled in on the defensive side of the ball already this season on two separate occasions.
“We are out there for a reason and I’m trying to meet the expectations from my teammates and coaching staff each and every play,” Price said. “I don’t want to let them down and keep competing.”
It is that sense of not wanting to let down his coaches or his teammates why Price has been able to have the success he has already had this season. He realizes the areas of his game where he needs the most improvement and works on getting better.
“Eye discipline, you know, coming out of college I do a lot of things that get me in trouble,” said Price. “And just as far as looking at the quarterback and looking at the wrong things before the ball is snapped, so basically I let my eyes get me in trouble. “
Along with the knowledge of being able to recognize what he needs to improve, Price believes that he brings a passionate effort to the team and that is what has created opportunities for him on the football field.
“Basically just a relentless effort,” he said. “Refusing to be blocked, refusing to stay away from the ball, just trying to have a knack for the ball, having that mentality before the ball is even kicked.”
Teams love being able to find talented players who are able to contribute in late rounds, and it looks like the Vikings have done that twice with Stephen and Price.
Vikings’ 7th-rounders find contributing roles
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