Vikings make significant strides after successful NFL draft
After missing the playoffs and a second consecutive losing season in 2021, the Vikings were in desperate need of a reshuffle. After eight years in charge, Minnesota parted ways with Head Coach Mike Zimmer, and with General Manager Rick Spielman in January. The former Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell was the man to take the reins as Head Coach in their stead and needed a successful draft to make his mark and reverse the Vikings’ fortunes this term. At first glance he appears to have done just that, trading well and making the most of their picks to put together a roster that could do some serious damage in 2022. They are by no means the favourites to make it to the Super Bowl come January 2023 according to these US betting sites, but they can certainly hope to improve on their performances in recent seasons and make the playoffs after some extremely savvy picks in this year’s draft. But which picks will make the difference, and will the purple capitalise on this positive step forward and manifest it into wins on the field?
Cine makes the headlines on day one
Georgia safety Lewis Cine has emerged as one of the best players in the NFL draft class of 2022. He is a hard-hitting, tough-tackling, athletic talent that has the potential to make an immediate impact in the NFL. His performances at the NFL Combine alone should prove that. Cine posted a 4.37 second 40-yard dash, just 0.3 seconds off the all-time record for a safety. He followed it up with an 11’11” broad jump and a 36.5” vertical jump giving him an overall athletic score of 9.92. There’s only so much you can understand about a player from stats no matter how impressive they are, and scouts across the country would look at his physicality as a tackler as something to define him as an alluring prospect for the future. His contributions to Georgia’s national championship season cannot be overstated either as he was named the defensive MVP of the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. His impressively diverse skillset, strong mindset and ability to rise to the occasion marks him out as one to watch for the season ahead.
Vikings win big with Booth in round two
Cornerback was one of the areas the Vikings desperately needed to strengthen with 32-year-old Patrick Peterson starting to show signs of his age and they hit the jackpot with the extremely athletic Andrew Booth Jr. Booth had the potential to be a first-rounder so for Minnesota to secure him ten picks into the second round was a massive stroke of fortune and what a player they have added to their ranks. His playmaking instincts and top-notch ball skills makes him a brilliant addition to their roster and a talent more than capable of going toe-to-toe with any of his contemporaries in the NFL. At Clemson, he demonstrated that he is not afraid to mix with bigger receivers, with some phenomenal interceptions and pass breakups last campaign. His explosive jump gives him the capability to contend with almost anyone in the air and his quick feet will be the stuff of nightmares for opposing defensive lineups. He made in college football and is more than capable of doing the same for Minnesota in the NFL.
Controversial pick Ingram a project that’s worth the time
LSU’s steady decline over the past couple of seasons is well documented as they could not replicate the success of their National Championship season in 2019 in the years that followed. Ed Ingram though has been one of few bright sparks on LSU’s offensive line with some of his best plays coming in 2020 and 2021. For what he lacks in athleticism compared with his counterparts, he more than makes up for in natural power and blocking ability. He possesses good strength and an ability to absorb pressure, combining that with decent leg drive and great footwork that exemplify the fundamentals necessary to make it at the NFL level. There are undoubtedly things to work on though. He doesn’t possess a great track record of explosiveness off the snap and isn’t as agile as other guards out there. But at his core, he is hard to get past and will only improve as he gets bigger and stronger. He should be a good enough addition to make an impact in the running game.
Ty Chandler the best of the rest on day 3
The North Carolina running back is a contender for the best value pick of the draft with his speed being his standout attribute. At the NFL Combine, he posted a 40 yard dash time of 4.38 seconds, the third-best of all the running backs this year. Chandler started out at Tennessee where he recorded over 2,500 yards from scrimmage and 16 touchdowns before moving on to UNC in 2021 where he racked up his best career stats of 1,308 yards and 14 touchdowns. His best qualities that Minnesota will be looking to exploit are his patience and explosiveness. He has an uncanny ability to spot a gap and race through it and can also be utilized as a receiver out of the backfield which lends itself nicely to the Vikings’ gameplan. His visible passion when playing and ability to spot opportunities will make up for what he lacks in height. Not only that but he is reliable too, having only fumbled four times in over 600 carries and dropping 5 balls of 91 targets as a receiver. He will no doubt add a lot of value to the Vikings’ line-up in 2022 and could be an extremely solid deputy to Dalvin Cook.