Nick Easton wasn’t planning to have a “journeyman” label attached to his name so early in his career, but it would now fit.
Easton is the newest Minnesota Vikings player after he joined the team as part of the Gerald Hodges traded with the San Francisco 49ers. He is an undrafted rookie center from Harvard and the Vikings are already his third team since the start of September.
After he went undrafted, he joined the Baltimore Ravens as a rookie free agent but was eventually traded to the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers then traded him to the Minnesota Vikings, and while he has enjoyed the traveling around he is hoping he can finally find a place to stay.
“I’ve had fun with it,” Easton said. “Get to see a lot of different places. Happy to be here, though, hoping to stick here.”
Since he was only with the 49ers for a couple weeks he never really felt as though he was comfortable in San Francisco. He never got a chance to settle in. That is the down side of bouncing from team to team – no real connection with teammates or ability to truly learn the playbook.
One thing that has helped Easton with learning the Vikings’ playbook, which he said is more complicated than the 49ers, is that he arrived in Minnesota during the team’s bye week.
That meant he has had extra time to work with his new teammates and learn the offense. It also gave him time to make a lot of flash cards, which he used throughout the bye week to study the new plays.
“(The bye week) just gave me extra time to meet with coaches and study the plays,” Easton said. “You get a lot better by coming out here and practicing and meeting with the guys, too. So it’s just day-by-day getting better and that bye week gives you more chance to do so.”
In 1998, the Vikings had another rookie center from Harvard on their roster, Matt Birk. Birk worked as a backup offensive linemen the first two years of his career and then in 2000 he became the starting center and held that spot until he left to Baltimore in 2008.
Even though they share an alma mater, a position, and now a professional team, Easton said that he has not talked with Birk very often. But he does hope that changes now.
“Probably not as much as you would have thought,” he said. “I met him a couple times in passing at Harvard. He’d come by and say a few words to us and I’d shake his hand. But we’re not best friends yet; hopefully that will change.”
Even though Easton is listed as a center, the Vikings have also been working him out at guard. The undrafted rookie played guard for three years in college so he is comfortable working at both positions.
He isn’t likely to get very much playing time this season, but he could end up being an important piece for the Vikings down the road.