When Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer announced that he was hiring veteran NFL coach Norv Turner as his offensive coordinator, it became clear that the tight end position would be impacted by the hire.
Known for developing tight ends and making them an integral part of his offense, Turner has consistently surrounded himself with tight ends.
Turner inherited Kyle Rudolph and had a hand in selecting MyCole Pruitt in last year’s draft. Undaunted and apparently unsatisfied, the Vikings once again dipped into the tight end draft pool by drafting tight end David Morgan from the University of Texas-San Antonio.
Morgan doesn’t have great speed. He didn’t have enormous production at University of Texas-San Antonio – his only season as a full-time starter, he caught 45 passes for 566 yards and five touchdowns. But he believes his selling point is that he does a lot of things well, which, when added together, creates solid pro potential.
“I think my strength is my versatility,” Morgan said. “I lined up at a lot of different positions – wide out, slot, in-line, H-back. Just being able to do a lot of different things is something I bring that I think will be of value to the Vikings because I have versatility and can be asked to play different roles. I’ve lined up in a lot of different positions, so I feel comfortable in a lot of different spots and I don’t feel out of place anywhere.”
Morgan’s immediate job will likely involve his primary strength – blocking. The Vikings drafted Morgan to be a run-blocker in the mold of what Rhett Ellison has done in recent years. With Ellison recovering from a knee injury, the selection of Morgan makes sense.
At a time when elite tight ends are increasingly being viewed as receivers first and blockers second, Morgan is a player who doesn’t mind doing the dirty work. In fact, it’s something he hangs his hat on.
“It’s something I take a lot of pride in,” Morgan said. “On a team that runs the ball as much as the Vikings do with Adrian Peterson, blocking up front is critical to that. I pride myself on being able to do my job and handle my assignments, so if my primary job is to block for the running game, I’m up for it and it would be an honor.”
Playing under Turner is another thrill Morgan got from being drafted by the Vikings. He was hoping he wouldn’t be pigeon-holed as strictly a short-yardage or goal-line blocking tight end. Getting drafted by the Vikings and given the chance to work under Turner was something Morgan had only dreamed of.
“That was one of the things that I was most excited about coming to Minnesota,” Morgan said. “There’s a lot of history with him developing tight ends and making them important parts of his offense. He’s known for giving his tight ends a lot of love in the offense, so that is great to know and something I’m looking forward to working on with him.”
With Rudolph. Ellison, Pruitt and free agent signee Brian Leonhardt already in front of him on the depth chart, Morgan realizes that carving out a spot for himself on the 53-man roster is going to be a huge challenge, but one he is looking forward to taking on.
He’s banking on his versatility to be his calling card to making the roster and won’t feel overwhelmed when he’s asked to play different roles in the offense because he has already been there and done that.
“I’m comfortable being out on the field in whatever capacity the coaches want me to be in,” Morgan said. “The best thing that happened to me a UTSA was that a lot was asked of me. I played a lot of different positions, so I was on the field for a lot of snaps. There isn’t anything that I feel uncomfortable with or am unfamiliar with. I know I have a lot of work to pick up to the speed and the strength of the NFL, but I’m coming at it with a lot of experience and knowledge of what I will need to do, so I’m ready to hit the ground running and show the Vikings that they made the right choice in drafting me.”null