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Vikings' Offensive Roster So Far and Projected Starters





J
amie Harmer / April 3rd 2022 / Photo courtesy of: Vikings.com


 The Vikings did a lot more retaining than turning over on the offensive side of the ball this off season. Extending quarterback Kirk Cousins, re-working Adam Thielen's contract, and (as of right now) carrying Dalvin Cook's large cap hit. The losses have been minimal and even in some cases welcomed. The biggest departure on offense has been tight end Tyler Conklin who stepped in the starting role this past season. 

The offense as a whole ranked 11th in points and 12th overall in both yards per game and per play. The major downside was the team's inability to covert on third downs. It was downright abysmal with just a 36.4% success rate, placing them 26th overall. The team has made a couple moves in free agency along the offensive line to shore up what's been an Achilles' heel. Let's take a look at where the Vikings offensive rosters sits right now.

First, the offensive line. The Vikings have been in pass protection purgatory for what seems like a decade now. With the cornerstone tackles finally in place (and yes, I'm sold on Darrisaw) it's time the team figures out the interior. The new regime was quick to set sail on Dakota Dozier which had to boost your confidence in what direction they are heading. 

The Bears not only siged Dozier, but made it seem like a big free agent get was just the icing on the cake. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah addressed the right guard weakness through free agency bringing in three new linemen all with experience at the position. Here's a look at the teams offensive line room:

  • Brian O'Neill
  • Ezra Cleveland
  • Garrett Bradbury
  • Chris Reed
  • Christian Darrisaw
  • Jesse Davis (OL)
  • Blake Brandel 
  • Austin Schlottmann (G/C)
  • Oli Udoh
  • Wyatt Davis
  • Kyle Hinton
  • Timon Parris
New additions Chris Reed, Jesse Davis and Austin Schlottmann all add competition, upgrade and depth to a struggling interior. Reed is my front runner to take the starting right guard spot. Darrisaw, Cleveland, Bradbury, Reed, and O'Neill are my projected starters from this group with both Jesse Davis and Blake Brandel as the new swings. My guess is the team looks hard at the center position in this years draft.

The tight end group is carried by Irv Smith Jr. A dynamic talent that all Viking fans pray can stay on the field. Tyler Conklin's absence leaves a wide gap between starter and backup here so it's probably a good thing that Kevin O'Connell's offense doesn't use many two tight end sets. Here's the current tight end room:
  • Irv Smith Jr
  • Johnny Mundt
  • Ben Ellefson
  • Zack Davidson
Newly acquired Johnny Mundt is more of a blocking tight end. My guess is he will see most of his snaps come on the teams running plays. Not much else to project here other than as long as Smith is healthy he's the clear starter.

The Vikings have a great stable of running backs lead, by Dalvin Cook. No need for the team to waste any time or money addressing this group in free agency. Let's take a quick look at the running backs room:
  • Dalvin Cook
  • Alexander Mattison
  • Kene Nwangwu
  • A.J. Rose Jr
  • C.J. Ham (fullback) 

Cook may see a career high in receiving yards this season with what he brings to the passing game. I, along with a lot of you, would like to see Nwangwu carve out a nice spot in the Vikings new offense under O'Connell. He established himself as the team's kick returner, averaging 32 yards per, and housing two in his rookie season. Obviously, Cook is my projected starter, but I think we can see both Mattison and Nwangwu contribute.

Wide receiver will be a much deeper position then it has been in the past. As of right now, the team is carrying nine of them on the roster. They have a clear cut three, but will have to shake out who can emerge beyond those three. The team hasn't added any to the group through free agency as of yet, but have been linked to more than a few in this years upcoming draft. The current wide receiver room:
  • Justin Jefferson
  • Adam Thielen
  • K.J. Osborn
  • Ihmir Smith-Marsette
  • Bisi Johnson
  • Dan Chisena
  • Blake Proehl
  • Myron Mitchell
  • Trishton Jackson
We will see a wide receiver-heavy offense under Coach O'Connell. One of the teams best moves here was retaining wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell. Under McCardell, we seen K.J. Osborn take a giant step securing the teams third receiver spot, and even playing well in relief of an injured Adam Thielen. The first three spots are easy to project with Jefferson, Thielen, and Osborn. It gets a little fuzzy after that, but Smith-Marsette, Johnson, and Chisena all have potential to earn spots. This will be a fun group to watch once camp rolls around.

The last group to look at is the quarterbacks. Pretty cut and dry here. Kirk Cousins earned an extension along with the respect of his teammates and confidence from new General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. The team also opted to retain backup Sean Mannion in a very unpopular move among most fans. Here's the Vikings current quarterbacks room:
  • Kirk Cousins
  • Sean Mannion
  • Kellen Mond
  • Nate Stanley
I've seen speculation that the reason Mannion was brought back was to eventually add him to the team's coaching staff, but that's neither here nor there. The fact the team has no idea what they have in Mond yet, and needed a veteran backup in the quarterback room makes sense for the move. Not that it makes any of us happy about it, but enough about Mannion. 

The focus this season will be on quarterback numero uno, Kirk frickin' Cousins. O'Connell has heaped praise on his starting signal caller, and plans to build the offense centered around number eight. I, for one, love the fact that we will get to see Cousins under a coach that has continued to project confidence in him publicly. It's a change and one that was very much needed. 

As free agency lumbers on, the team will undoubtedly continue to look for value where it can find it. So far, I really like what Adofo-Mensah has been able to do in tight spaces. Addressing the interior offensive line had to be a top priority coming in, and it shows.  


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