Since the veteran players arrived at training camp on July 26th, it’s officially football season. The players are fighting for starting jobs and roster spots. Some players have already secured a spot on the 53-man team, but others fight for their future on the team and in the NFL. The Vikings have an interesting sleeper that appears regularly in camp reports and who could make the roster despite most people already counting them out.
The wide receiver played his college ball at UAB, the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The conference USA is not a football competition at the highest level. Mitchell started his college career at Butler Community College. His stats never indicated the potential to turn into a future NFL player.
Born and raised in Jasper, Alabama, he recorded 67 catches for 1,090 yards and 11 touchdowns as a High School senior before he accepted a scholarship from Butler Community College. He totaled just over 500 combined yards and two scores in two seasons there.
Once he attended UAB, Mitchell got redshirted. In the following season, as a redshirt junior, the wideout gained 554 yards and four touchdowns. He also added a kick return touchdown. 436 yards and three touchdowns as a senior earned him back-to-back honorable mention all-conference selections.
As an undrafted rookie, Mitchell signed a deal with the Vikings. The purple team cut him after the preseason and signed him to the practice squad. In the preseason, the wideout was targeted four times. He made three catches for 32 yards. The receiver missed more than a week on the Covid list during camp, which certainly didn’t help his chances to make the team. He got elevated to the active roster in Week 15 against the Bears. Mitchell played one offensive snap. One year after the Vikings cut him, he returns to camp as a sleeper trying to make the roster this time.
The Draft Network has a draft profile about the receiver, and the summary sounds encouraging:
Mitchell is a lean receiver that has the ability to win down the field with his impressive athleticism and ball skills. With that said, he has room to develop his route-running technique and become a more versatile wide receiver. For an NFL offense that likes to spread the field and get three and four receivers on the field with consistency, Mitchell is an appealing option to provide depth in addition to providing some value in the return game.
That description fits the Vikings’ needs. The expectation is that O’Connell will implement an offense with more usage of 11 personnel, which means three wideouts at the same time, and the Vikings need depth behind the starters, Jefferson, Thielen, and Osborn. He is the perfect player for that role. His ideal role was even described as “WR4/5.” His athleticism and deep threat ability make him a desirable object in his coaches’ plans.
High Praise in Camp
In most articles from team reporters who watch the camp practices, even those without fans in attendance, Mitchell’s name regularly surfaces. He seems to make plays consistently and impresses reporters and teammates.
Vikings beat writer for Sports illustrated Will Ragatz wrote about Mitchell, “I mentioned WR Myron Mitchell as a sleeper yesterday. He very nearly came down with the catch of the day on a deep ball from Mannion, but couldn’t quite haul it in against double coverage as he fell to the ground. It was still a nice route from Mitchell.”
Path to a Roster Spot
The first thing the sleeper has to do to make the final Vikings roster is to shine during camp, especially as a player with an outside shot to make the team. That’s exactly what he’s doing. The second part will be to make some plays in the preseason games. All of that has to put him above some other receivers on the list of Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, who will be the final authority when it’s time to trim the roster to just 53 players.
Jefferson, Thielen, and Osborn will obviously be on the roster. Ihmir Smith-Marsette seems to have the pole position to become WR4. Albert Wilson, a veteran free agent signing, Jalen Nailor, a sixth-round rookie, and Bisi Johnson, who contributed in 2019 and 2020 for the purple team, are in consideration, just like special teams ace Dan Chisena, who’s technically a wideout but doesn’t offer much to the offense.
The team will probably keep six receivers overall, so Mitchell has to beat out three of the aforementioned players. It’s still early in camp, but Mitchell’s eye-opening performances early on create a pathway for him to be part of the final roster.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt