To this point in the season, outside of Ed Ingram, it’s been quite difficult to evaluate exactly what the Minnesota Vikings have with their rookie class in 2022. Between injuries and overall depth, many of them have not seen the field for more than a few snaps.
Of course, Lewis Cine won’t be playing again any time soon, but that shouldn’t stop other high-end draft picks from playing more often.
While we all are excited about some potential trade targets over the next few days, perhaps the biggest upgrades this team can make already lie on their roster in the 2022 Draft class. Here are three Vikings rookies that we should expect to see the field more often post-bye.
CB Andrew Booth
The Vikings have formulated something of a dynamic duo at cornerback between Cameron Dantzler and Patrick Peterson. The veteran Peterson seems to have taken the younger Dantzler under his wing, and it has allowed the third-year CB to blossom.
Because of the emergence of Dantzler as well as a quad injury that kept him sidelined, Andrew Booth has not been able to see the field nearly as much as anticipated. Through six games, the rookie CB has played just eight snaps, all coming on special teams.
As the season wears on, it makes sense that he should eventually crack the defensive lineup whether that be at slot corner or as a rotational player with the 32-year-old Peterson. The veteran certainly has turned back the clock over the first six games, but it’s reasonable to expect a regression at some point. Booth is a guy that should be able to step up.
LB Brian Asamoah
Defensive coordinator Ed Donatell said it himself, Brian Asamoah’s role is expanding over the remainder of the season. This makes sense as the Vikings linebacker oozes with speed and athleticism, something that is crucial for sideline-to-sideline play at the position.
After seeing a role exclusive to special teams over the first portion of the season, Asamoah has seen an increased role on defense. Largely, these defensive snaps have come in the role as a QB spy. With some mobile QBs coming up on the schedule, including Sunday’s game against Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals, this could be a crucial part of Minnesota’s defensive scheme moving forward.
WR Jalen Nailor
The hot topic in Vikings trade talks has become finding a speedy threat to stretch the field opposite of Justin Jefferson. However, in light of recent trades that have gone down, that position could become pricey for the Vikings to make any substantial moves.
With that in mind, perhaps the option for Minnesota is to expand the role of rookie Jalen Nailor. The rookie receiver has seen just one offensive snap this year, and his only target actually came on special teams, catching the Week 4 fake punt pass from Ryan Wright.
Nailor isn’t exactly a burner in terms of straight-line speed (he recorded a 4.50 40 at the combine), but he changes directions extremely well and this athletic ability allowed him to put defenders on skates at Michigan State.
If the Vikings want a guy that can become a deep-ball threat opposite of Jefferson. an expanded role for Nailor could be the answer that doesn’t cost them any future draft capital.
Overall, it’s rather natural for some rookies to slowly adapt to the NFL game. Especially for a team that has veterans all over the field like the Vikings do, it makes sense that Kevin O’Connell and his coaching staff are slowly working these players onto the field.
However, the time has come to ramp things up down the stretch of the season. These young legs could be exactly what the Vikings need if they are to make a playoff run this season.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing as well as minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.