Earlier this week, the Vikings released their first (albeit unofficial) depth chart and we also learned that the Vikings are now the second oldest team in the NFL. The depth chart doesn’t really account for rotating players that could very easily be considered a starter (i.e. Danielle Hunter), and it could change before Sunday, but I wanted to count my “Five Oldest Vikings” article from yesterday by identifying the five youngest starters on this team.
Rick Spielman kind of took a year off from his “youth movement” of recent years, it seems, opting to value experience over youth in an attempt to make a serious run at the Super Bowl. That may not be the case next year, when the Vikings average age could decrease considerably, but there is no denying he has assembled a solid young core of players.
Please note, the players listed below are the team’s five youngest starters, and the “starters” label has been pulled directly from the first-teamers listed on the depth chart earlier this week.
STEFON DIGGS, WR, AGE 22
In 2015, Diggs became the first rookie in Vikings history to lead the team in receptions (52). His burst off the line, precise route running, dependable hands, and all around effort have quickly led to comparison’s to some of the NFL’s best receivers. He expressed disappointment in his rookie season this offseason, despite all of the accolades, and looks to build off of his 720 yards and four touchdowns.
ANTHONY BARR, LB, AGE 24
If Barr can stay healthy, expectations for his production look to be at an all-time high, as his versatile abilities have him as an absolute X-factor in Mike Zimmer’s defense. While he has yet to play an entire season, Barr has shown an ability to be a rangy run stopper and athletic pass defender, with a menacing ability to rush the passer. In 14 games last season, Barr accumulated 3.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 7 defended passes, and an interception.
ERIC KENDRICKS, LB, AGE 24
Word out of Winter Park this offseason is that the Vikings have a huge amount of excitement for Kendricks’ future with the team. They believe he can be a real difference maker in a defense that could use a boost in the run defense area. In 14 games and 11 starts, Kendricks led the team in tackles with 91, and is only the second rookie in franchise history to do that. He also has some good things to build off of as a blitzer where he amassed four sacks as a rookie.
SHARRIF FLOYD, DT, AGE 25
Floyd can certainly flash greatness, in between nagging injuries always seeming to keep him from truly shining, and could benefit from playing a full 16 games as Minnesota’s starter alongside Linval Joseph. Floyd is entering his fourth season where he’ll look to build off of his 95 career tackles and 9.5 sacks.
CORDARRELLE PATTERSON, KR, AGE 25
When Patterson was drafted in the first round, the hope was that he would also be a starting wide out, but he’s still a long ways from achieving that. Instead, Patterson’s first-team nod comes on special teams where he has been one of the NFL’s best kick returners. He is one touchdown away from tying the franchise record of five career kick return touchdowns, has earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors as a returner, tied an unbeatable record with his 109 yard kickoff return for a touchdown at the opening of the Packers game in 2013. If Patterson can make some strides in the passing game this year, and continue his returning prowess, he might be able to turn his career around in a meaningful way this season.