Minnesota Vikings Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Ed Ingram, G, LSU – Round 2
The previous regime in Minnesota favored athletic, quick offensive linemen for the Kubiak zone-rushing attack, but the selection of Ingram signaled a transition away from that because he is a powerful and physical blocker for the point of attack. Ingram could step in at right guard and quickly be a pile mover to open holes for Dalvin Cook.

As a run blocker, Ingram has heavy hands and sheer power at the point of attack to generate movement. He can get under the pads of defensive tackles and use his strength to manipulate them out of their gaps. Finding nasty bullies up front is getting more difficult thanks to how the uptempo and spread-offense concepts have changed the game, and Ingram is the rare blocker who enters the NFL with a mean streak to set a physical tone at the point of attack. He blocks through the whistle, pushes defenders around, buries them into the ground, and finishes them off with violence. Ingram also has developed strength to push defenders out of their gaps and open holes in the ground game. Furthermore, Ingram can sustain his blocks after shocking defenders backward.

Ingram does not possess elite quickness and athleticism. While he can pull and is not terrible, he doesn’t have elite movement skills and could be better off in a power-man scheme rather than as a a zone blocker. Ingram’s strength and power make him a perfect guard to be a bulldozer in the ground game. He will have to play guard only though because he doesn’t have the length or movement skills for tackle or center.

In pass protection, Ingram has a strong anchor and can stand up bull rushers. Quick interior defensive linemen with length can give him problems because they can fire by him and use their length to keep him from getting a hold of them. Fast interior defensive tackles or defensive ends who move inside in passing situations could give Ingram problems in the NFL, especially early in his pro career.

The Vikings needed a right guard, and Ingram is a potential plug-and-play starter. He will bring some real strength at the point of attack for Minnesota, and could quickly emerge as a solid starter in his pro career.

2021: Wyatt Davis, G
2020: Jeff Gladney, CB
2019: Garrett Bradbury, C
2018: Daniel Carlson, K
2017: Pat Elflein, C
2016: Laquon Treadwell, WR
2015: Trae Waynes, CB
2014: Scott Crichton, DE
2013: Xavier Rhodes, CB

Most Likely To Bust

Brian Asamoah, LB, Oklahoma – Round 3
This wasn’t an easy choice because no player from Minnesota’s draft class screams future bust. However, third-round picks are expected to start out as backups before emerging as starters. I am not confident Asamoah will become a starter for Minnesota.

Asamoah was an underwhelming player who did not play up to his potential all of the time in Oklahoma. In pass coverage, he can be prone to coverage busts, and he lacks the strength to avoid getting pushed around in run defense. Hence, I could see Asamoah not developing into being a starter. Of Minnesota’s early-round picks, he looks like he has the most bust potential.

2021: Chazz Surratt, LB
2020: Ezra Cleveland, OT
2019: Dru Samia, G
2018: Brian O’Neill, OT
2017: Ben Gedeon, LB
2016: Willie Beavers, OT
2015: Danielle Hunter, DE
2014: Teddy Bridgewater, QB
2013: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR

Potential Boom Pick

Lewis Cine, S, Georgia – Round 1
The Vikings made two shocking trades in the 2022 NFL Draft that helped their division rivals land two potential No. 1 wide receivers. Minnesota moved down 20 spots in the first-round, receiving essentially only a third-round pick in return, to allow the Lions to add elite speed receiver Jameson Williams. At pick No. 32, Minnesota moved down again, this time with the Packers, to allow Green Bay to add a big, fast wideout in Christian Watson. Between aiding their division rivals, the Vikings selected Georgia safety Lewis Cine, who will be called on to help defend against those weapons.

In the ground game, Cine is a physical safety who can function well as the eighth man in the box. He is a reliable tackler and willing to take on any back. While Cine is a tad undersized, he could play some as the eighth man in the box because he is very natural near the line of scrimmage. Cine is a lightning bolt coming downhill and making tackles in the ground game.

Cine is reliable in zone coverage against the pass. He covers ground well and is adept at picking up receivers who come into his area. Cine has some coverage ability with movement skills, but he is not as natural as the deep single-high free safety. Cine is more of a natural strong safety for the pros, but he has flexibility because he is fast, smart and instinctive. Cine is better suited to play man coverage against tight ends, or helping against big wide receivers along the sideline.

Teams like interchangeable safeties who can execute both strong and free safety duties. Some schemes require that, choosing to flip responsibilities pre-snap to make it hard for quarterbacks to know where defenders will move and what they will be responsible for. Cine could offer that pre- and post-snap flexibility.

In the short term, Cine will make an excellent partner with veteran Harrison Smith. Once Smith ages out, Cine can take over as the leader of the defense, and Cine has the ability to be one of the top safeties in the NFL. Of the Minnesota 2022 draft class, Cine looks like the player who has the most boom-pick potential.

2021: Christian Darrisaw, OT
2020: Justin Jefferson, WR
2019: Irv Smith Jr., TE
2018: Mike Hughes, CB
2017: Dalvin Cook, RB
2016: Mackensie Alexander, CB
2015: Eric Kendricks, LB
2014: Anthony Barr, LB
2013: Sharrif Floyd, DT

Future Depth Player

Akayleb Evans, CB, Missouri – Round 4
This might be selling Evans short because he could emerge as a starter for the Vikings. The previous regime in Minnesota blew a lot of early-round picks on cornerbacks, so the team has a wide-open depth chart at the position. Jeff Gladney and Mike Hughes were busts, and Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander did not live up to expectations and moved on. Veteran Patrick Peterson is returning in 2022, but he is not a long-term player at this point in his career.

Peterson and second-round pick Andrew Booth figure to be the starters, but Evans could compete to be the third corner with other young veterans on the roster. While Evans may not have the fluidity to be a full-time starter, he could be a solid backup and rotational cornerback who also contributes on special teams. Evans definitely has the potential to be a quality depth player for Minnesota.

2021: Kellen Mond, QB
2020: D.J. Wonnum, DE
2019: Alexander Mattison, RB
2018: Jayln Holmes, DE
2017: Bucky Hodges, TE
2016: Kentrell Brothers, LB
2015: Stefon Diggs, WR
2014: Jerick McKinnon, RB
2013: Michael Mauti, LB

Walt’s 2022 NFL Draft Grades:

32. Lewis Cine, S, Georgia – B+ Grade
I absolutely hated the Vikings’ trade with the Lions. This selection, however, is much better. Minnesota easily could’ve drafted Kyle Hamilton at No. 12. They needed a safety, so they’ll settle for Lewis Cine, who definitely fits the range at the end of the first round.

42. Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson – A Grade
The Vikings needed someone to cover all the talented receivers they gave to their divisional foes. Andrew Booth is whom I mocked to Minnesota at No. 34 in my re-draft, so I love this value. Booth could’ve gone at No. 25, so this is a stellar pick.

59. Ed Ingram, G, LSU – A- Grade
I mocked Ed Ingram to the Vikings at No. 46, so I like this pick. Ingram is a tough run blocker with good athleticism. He’ll fill a big need for Minnesota’s miserable offensive line. Kirk Cousins’ pass protection absolutely had to improve, and Ingram will make that happen.

66. Brian Asamoah, LB, Oklahoma – C- Grade
The Vikings aren’t having the best draft. Brian Asamoah is a bit of a reach here, as he was projected to go late third at the very earliest. He’s an athletic player, and he fills a need, but the Vikings could have moved down and gotten him or taken someone better.

118. Akayleb Evans, CB, Missouri – B Grade
There’s good cornerback value here in the fourth round, so I don’t think the Vikings needed to trade up necessarily. They surrendered a 2023 fourth-rounder to get Akayleb Evans, so that’ll weigh down this grade. I like Evans though, as he’s a tall corner with good athleticism, and we know the Vikings need corners.

165. Esezi Otomewo, DE/DT, Minnesota – B- Grade
The Vikings are familiar with this local player, who will be a fine depth fit in the team’s new 3-4 defense. I never slotted Esezi Otomewo into any of my mock drafts, but he was always in consideration in the late rounds.

169. Ty Chandler, RB, North Carolina – C- Grade
This pick neither fills a need or provides value. Ty Chandler is a late-round/UDFA guy, and the Vikings have a log jam at running back. Chandler can catch passes out of the backfield well, but I can’t see him contributing anytime soon.

184. Vederian Lowe, OT, Illinois – B Grade
Offensive line depth is always welcome, and Vederian Lowe brings tons of starting experience with him. He has a decent chance of making the roster. I thought he would go around this range, maybe a bit later.

191. Jalen Nailor, WR, Michigan State – B Grade
Jalen Nailor missed some action last year, but he was projected to go in this range, so that didn’t cost him his draft position. The Vikings needed receiving depth with Adam Thielen turning 32, so this is a solid choice.

227. Nick Muse, TE, South Carolina – B Grade
I slotted Nick Muse at No. 223 in the final mock, so this range is perfect for him. The Vikings lost Tyler Conklin this offseason, so they needed to address their depth at tight end.

2022 NFL Draft Team Grade: C+. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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