Analysis

Grading Every Minnesota Vikings Position Group Going into 2022

Grading Every Minnesota Vikings Position Group Going into 2022

The Vikings enter 2022 with a new GM and new coaching staff in place. The Vikings have talent across their roster and all eyes will be on them to see if they can take that next step and be contenders for the NFC North. Kevin O’Connell comes in from LA and it will be interesting to see if he can replicate the offensive success, he had with the reigning champs. Kirk Cousins is an established veteran, Dalvin Cook is a top back in the league, and Justin Jefferson is arguably one of the best receivers in the league. The pieces are in place for a run in 2022.

QB: Kirk Cousins, Sean Mannion, Kellen Mond, Nate Stanley

Grade: B-

Explanation: Cousins gets a lot of different opinions from people around the game. He was top 10 in terms of passing yards, touchdowns, and interceptions thrown last year. However, he was 15th in total QBR. Cousins has shown he is not the perfect QB,  but with the right tools around he can get it done. Cousins has arguably one of the best wide receivers in the league in Justin Jefferson and arguably a top five running back in Dalvin Cook. Behind Cousins, there is not a ton of quality backup experience. Mannion only has 110 career pass attempts and Mond has three. Cousins is going to need to stay healthy for the Vikings to make some noise in the NFC North under first year head coach, Kevin O,Connell.

RB: Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, Kene Nwangwu, Ty Chandler

Grade: A

Explanation: Cook has shown the past three seasons he’s one of the best backs in the league as he averages over 4.5 yards per carry and over 1,100 yards. He missed four games last year but manages to stay relatively healthy for the work load he gets. Alexander Mattison showed he can take quality snaps as RB2 as he rushed for 491 yards in 2021. Kevin O’Connell will look to use that dynamic playmaking a lot in 2022 and use it much like he did as the offensive coordinator in LA. Ty Chandler was taken in the fifth round to compete for a spot. He ran for 1,092 yards in 2021 and average six yards per carry.

WR: Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, KJ Osborn, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Olabisi Johnson, Jalen Nailor, Albert Wilson, Dan Chisena, Myron Mitchell, Blake Proehl, Trishton Jackson, Thomas Hennigan

Grade: A-

Explanation: Justin Jefferson is in the conversation for best receiver in the league. In 2021, he was 4th in receptions, 2nd in yards, and t-6th in touchdowns. Thielen is also a very talented receiver. He hasn’t played a full season since 2018 but still had 726 yards and 10 touchdowns in just just 13 games last season. KJ Osborn rounds out their starting receivers and he is another very quality option and still very young. He had a 65 overall rating per PFF. Jalen Nailor was picked up in the 6th round from Michigan State to add depth to this position group and he is an intriguing prospect. Outside of the top three, there aren’t a ton of household names in this position group so the Vikings will hope these guys can stay healthy.

TE: Irv Smith Jr., Ben Ellefson, Johnny Mundt, Zach Davidson, Nick Muse

Grade: C-

Explanation: The Vikings lose their main tight end in Tyler Conklin going into 2022. Irv Smith assumes TE1 responsibilities. He missed all of 2021 due to a torn meniscus but had a solid season in 2020 with 30 receptions for 365 yards. The Vikings are hoping he can make another jump and be one of the better tight ends in the NFC. Ellefson only has one career reception, so the Vikings are extremely thin at tight end. A lot will be riding on the production Smith can deliver in the passing game.

OL: Christian Darrisaw, Ezra Cleveland, Garrett Bradbury, Jesse Davis, Ed Ingram, Brian O’Neil, Vederian Lowe, Kyle Hinton, Josh Sokol, Chris Reed, Oli Udoh

Grade: C+

Explanation: Minnesota had the 23rd ranked offensive line according to PFF in 2021. However, Darrisaw showed promise grading out at a 71.8 and so did second year player Ezra Cleveland at a 68.1. The Vikings took Ingram in the second round of the 2022 Draft and will hope he can come in and start day one at right guard. This is an overall young unit but has promise and can definitely take another step in the right direction in 2022.

DL: Harrison Phillips, Dalvin Tomlinson, Armon Watts, Esezi Otomewo, T.Y. McGill, James Lynch, Jalen Twyman, T.J. Smith, Jonathan Bullard, Tyarise Stevenson, Julian Taylor,

Grade: B-

Explanation: Minnesota will be a base 3-4 defense this year and added Harrison Phillips via free agency.Phillips comes from Buffalo where he had 51 tackles and a sack. Tomlinson returns and had 39 tackles and 2.5 sacks last season. Twyman was a 6th round pick in 2021 and the Vikings will hope he can step up into a significant role this season. In terms of run defense, Phillips and Tomlinson are solid pieces and should be tough to to move. Watts had 5 sacks a season ago and brings very good pass rush from the inside.

LB: Danielle Hunter, Eric Kendricks, Jordan Hicks, Za’Darius Smith, Chaz Surratt, Brian Asamoah, Blake Lynch, DJ Wonnum, Zach McCloud, Troy Dye, Ryan Connelly, Luiji Vilain, Willian Kwenkeu, Andre, Patrick Jones, Andre Mintze, Janarius Robinson

Grade: A-

Explanation: The Vikings will have a very solid starting group of LB’s in Hunter, Hicks, Kendricks, and Smith. Hicks had 114 tackles and 4 sacks for the Cardinals last season. Smith missed basically all of last season but had 52 tackles and 12.5 sacks in 2020. This is a very dynamic group both in the middle and on the edges which will create a problem for a lot of opposing offenses. The Vikings also took Brian Asamoah in the draft to add to their depth.

CB: Patrick Peterson, Cameron Dantzler, Andrew Booth Jr, Harrison Hand, Chandon Sullivan, Kris Boyd, Nate Hairston, Akayleb Evans

Grade: B-

Explanation: The Vikings struggled with the secondary last year but definitely improved this off-season. Peterson is an established veteran and will be the leader. Minnesota will hope Dantzler can keep improving going into 2022. They also selected Andrew Booth Jr. with a second-round pick, and he will compete for the starting job. Evans was also selected later in the draft to provide more depth and to develop. The addition of Booth helps this group, along with bringing back Peterson and getting another training camp to develop Dantzler. It shapes up to be a better group heading into 2022.

S: Harrison Smith, Lewis Cine, Josh Metellus, Camryn Bynum, Mike Brown, Myles Dorn

Grade: B

Explanation: Harrison Smith is a veteran and one of the better safeties in the league. The Vikings took their other second round pick on Cine who was heavily rated coming out of Georgia for his aggressive style of play. This is a physical safety tandem that teams will need to account for. Metellus will be a good depth piece in case of injury.

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