The 2022 offseason was the first for Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as GM and he was incredibly decisive. He knew that he needed to fill some roster holes to keep this team relevant and to this point, that has been a successful venture. His team is 5-1 and that is in no small thanks to some key first-year Vikings.
Johnny Mundt, Tight End (FA, Rams): Mundt is a serviceable player who deserves some recognition here. He has taken a ton of snaps this season and his familiarity with the system has provided some value. Not a dynamic player by any means, Mundt will drop the occasional pass when called upon but is a very consistent blocker.
Ed Ingram, Right Guard (Rookie, LSU): The late 2nd Round pick has performed pretty adequately at right guard this season and has certainly been an upgrade from the combination of Oli Udoh and Mason Cole we saw last year. Despite allowing the most pressures (21) of all guards through six games, Ingram has been a valuable piece of the offensive line and a major benefit to Garrett Bradbury. The pass protection will improve with time but the rookie is already a strong run blocker at the NFL level.
Chandon Sullivan, Cornerback (FA, Green Bay): The relatively unsung position of slot corner is one of the most difficult to play in the modern NFL. With most offenses rolling out three wide receiver sets, defenses find themselves in nickel personnel more often than ever. As a result, Sullivan has played just over 80% of available defensive snaps. Short, quicker receivers, big receivers, tight ends and some halfbacks are all known to line up in front of this defender so a competent, versatile player like Chandon Sullivan is crucial to have.
The Top Three New Vikings
3. Jordan Hicks, Linebacker (FA, Arizona): Among other veterans, Jordan Hicks has emerged as a leader on the defense. The Vikings needed to fill the vacancy created by the departure of long-standing captain, Anthony Barr and Hicks has slotted right in; even wearing the green dot as the man communicating with the coach on the sideline, just as Barr did. Hicks leaves plenty to be desired in coverage but has been an effective blitzer, getting home for two sacks, and a good run defender in the box. Overall he has struggled in space though, as he leads the team in tackles, but also in missed tackles.
2. Ryan Wright, Athlete (UDFA rookie, Tulane): The Vikings punter is Week Six’s NFC Special Teams Player of the Week and it is well-deserved. The six-foot-three, 245-pound rookie has continued to absolutely deal from behind the long snapper ever since stealing the job in the preseason. He dropped six of his ten punts inside the twenty against the Dolphins, pushing his inside-the-20 rate to 33.3% and when he punts, the average change of field position that results is 43.1 yards.
1. Za’Darius Smith, EDGE (FA, Green Bay): This one was easy – and it probably would’ve been everyone’s prediction before the season started. The former Packer has been a force this season racking up 5.5 sacks and 13 pressures, leading the team in both categories. A stout run defender as well, he has several tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Za’Darius has also brought a presence of leadership and positive energy to the locker room that has been noted by players and media alike. He may earn the whole $42 million over three years when all is said and done, but keep in mind that this year his cap hit is only $3.34 million this year before $2.25 million in sack-related incentives which he will hit at this rate
Have The Vikings Done Enough?
More and more often in recent years, contending teams are buyers at the trade deadline. So far in Kwesi’s first season as GM we’ve seen him make transactions prolifically. Does that continue? … Should it? Players like Miami TE, Mike Gesicki, Jets wideout Elijah Moore and the Panthers.. team potentially available, should the Vikings make a move?
Let me know what you think about this list @JohnBBoyd12 on twitter! Would you want the team to make a push for any of the players I listed? Keep up with this and everything else Vikings-related at thedailyskol.com.