Welcome To The Big Show: Mickey Shuler

[EDITOR’S NOTE:  Over the next few weeks, we will be unveiling some in-depth articles that allow you to better know the newest Vikings draft class and undrafted free agents.  These articles are not intended to be “fluff pieces” like you will find elsewhere, but rather a comprehensive look at each of them as a person and as a football player.  Click the links to read aboutChris CookToby GerhartEverson GriffenChris DegeareNate Triplett, and Joe Webb.]

As the 2010 NFL Draft grew nearer and nearer, there was some writing on the wall to suggest that the Vikings were interested in using one of their draft picks on a tight end.  That suspicion turned into reality in the seventh round of the Draft when the Vikings took Penn State tight Mickey Shuler at number 214 overall.

Mickey Shuler’s father, who shares the same name, is no stranger to the tight end position.  Shuler Senior was a standout tight end for the Nittany Lions prior to being drafted by the New York Jets in the third round of the 1976 Draft.  He played in New York until 1989, and then kept it going for two more years with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The gene pool kept the talent in the family as Mickey Junior turned out to be quite the athlete himself.  While he played three sports, playing tight end in the game of football indicated that he was destined to follow in his fathers footsteps.  As a junior at East Pennsboro High School, Shuler caught 40 catches, 562 yards, and seven touchdowns.  His senior year he again caught 40 passes for 564 yards and three touchdowns.  He was voted as an MVP in his senior season.

Shuler did not win his MVP honors off of his pass catching skills alone, however.  He also played linebacker and registered 100 tackles, 10 for a loss, five sacks, four interceptions, three forced fumbles, and two recoveries.  These numbers indicate that perhaps Shuler could be a productive addition to an NFL special teams coverage unit.

Shuler also succeeded as a track and field ace, basketball star, and top student throughout high school.

Shuler became a kinesiology major at Penn State and was red shirted during his freshman season.  In 2006, Shuler was active but got lost on a depth chart that was full of tight end talent that includes Andrew Quarless who was selected in the fifth round of the 2010 Draft.

In 2007, Penn State saw enough improvement in Shuler that he played in every game.  He was even able to start in three.  He registered seven catches for 91 yards, including a 17 yard touchdown pass.

In 2008, Shuler again played in every game and started in six this time around.  His blocking prowess was thought to have improved and his receiving totals increased to nine catches for 120 yards and a touchdown.

For the third straight season, Shuler played in every game in 2009.  He started four and registered 11 catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns.  Shuler had established himself as an incredibly reliable blocker in both the passing and running game, as evidenced by standout performances from quarterback Darryl Clark and running back Evan Royster.

Shuler was known by NFL Scouts as a top talent when it came to blocking tight ends and was also thought to possess athleticism that went somewhat untapped in his time with Penn State.  The possibility of said athleticism was confirmed at his pro day when he ran a 4.69 forty yard dash which would have tied for fourth fastest tight end at the NFL Combine had he been invited and was the same speed that his higher ranked teammate, Andrew Quarless, ran the dash.

In addition, Shuler had 28 reps on the bench press which would have ranked him second in this event at the Combine among tight ends.  To top it off, he registered a 37 inch vertical jump which would have placed him fourth among tight ends invited to the Combine.

Few will argue that the Vikings managed to grab an elite blocking tight end late in this year’s draft.  However, some of his workout numbers, combined with his 6 foot 4 inch and 250 pound frame, might suggest that they have also landed another reliable red zone target.

Shuler has an uphill battle ahead of him when it comes to earning a roster spot.  It seems like his best chance is to prove that he is a younger, but equally reliable, option as compared to long time Viking Jim Kleinsasser.

“The Saucer” had a disappointing season with the Vikings in 2010.  The Vikings are banking on competition forcing Kleinsasser to perform at a higher level or seeing a rookie rise up and challenge for the spot on the depth chart.

The Vikings have used the 2010 draft to line up a marquee chalk full of training camp battles, and this is another one to add to the list.

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One Response to “Welcome To The Big Show: Mickey Shuler”

  1. […] [EDITOR’S NOTE:  Over the last few weeks, we posted some in-depth articles that allow you to better know the newest Vikings draft class.  Click the links to read about Chris Cook, Toby Gerhart, Everson Griffen, Chris Degeare, Nate Triplett, Joe Webb, and Mickey Shuler.] […]

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