5 Vikings Rookies Hoping for a Second Chance in 2022
The reign of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has begun in Minnesota.
The head coach tasked with fulfilling the new general manager’s vision will be appointed shortly. Then the work to shape the Vikings roster for the 2022 season will start. I’d like to take a look at 5 Vikings rookies who will be hoping for a second chance in 2022. When the new head coach comes in, one of the first jobs, along with Adofo-Mensah, will evaluate what is already here on the roster.
Giving some of the sophomore Vikings a chance to impress, much like KJ Osborn did so emphatically this season, is the goal. That kind of jump is fantastic, but even a more steady rise like we saw from Blake Lynch is good — or for the players who missed their rookie season due to injury, Kenny Willekes is the ideal role model. After finally getting on the field in Week 8, the defensive end impressed his ability to get to the quarterback with great tenacity.
So, on to the 5 Vikings rookies hoping for a second chance.
Where else could we start? I had the feeling as early as preseason that Kellen Mond was a pick that Mike Zimmer never wanted. In hindsight, it appears that it could be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
The division between general manager and head coach became apparent since both men were relieved of their duties. That division put Kellen Mond in a bad situation. He had a bit of game time in the preseason with second and third stringers. Then, he had one drive attempting three passes and completing two of them for five yards. That only happened because Sean Mannion was having a pickle juice break to alleviate cramping in his hand.
The fact they then sent Mannion back out with a cramping hand says all you need to know about Zimmer’s thoughts on Mond. Kellen Mond may never amount to anything in the NFL, but I’m not ready to write him off after one season under a head coach who never wanted him. The good news for Mond is he will get a fresh set of eyes evaluating him this offseason, hopefully without prejudice.
Another player I got the feeling Mike Zimmer never wanted was Wyatt Davis. With the problems the Vikings offensive line had at the right guard position, including injuries, for Davis to not get a single offensive snap always puzzled me. There was talk of him not being in “football shape,” which could mean anything. Was he unfit? Did the injuries at the end of his college career and throughout his rookie season cause the problems? Or was he just not athletic enough in the run game for what the former regime wanted?
Wyatt Davis was at one time pegged as the first-round selection for the Vikings in 2021. Hopefully, a clean bill of health this year and a new coach will help him rediscover what made him so highly rated in college.
Season one in Minnesota for Chazz Surratt was entirely confined to special teams. He started and finished the season dressing for game days but was inactive for much of the middle portion. I liked the Surratt pick, which I think puts me in rare company.
He was seen as a bit of a project, and at 24 years old, he was seen as old as a project player. The former quarterback turned linebacker was an interesting prospect to me. With just two years playing at his new position, Surratt’s position switch was a revelation, and he impressed sufficiently for the Vikings to take him in the third round.
Now, he has a year on an NFL roster behind him, and even it’s only special teams and practice. It is all a valuable experience. Surratt has the physical skills to be a very good linebacker, unsurprisingly for someone who came into the NFL fairly new to the position. It was the knowledge and feel for the position that was perhaps slightly lacking. My hope is year two is when we start to see Surratt begin to flourish.
The first of two players that had no involvement in their rookie season due to injury.
Starting with the more normal case of Janarius Robinson, who was placed on Reserve/Injured before the season started due to a leg injury — that move ended his season before it had started as only players who are put on Reserve/Injured after the 53-man roster for the season has been announced are eligible to return and play during the course of the season.
The Vikings had inconsistency at the defensive end position all season, so it was unfortunate for Robinson that he never had any chance to stake his claim. Defensive end is a problem position for the Vikings heading into 2022. Danielle Hunter had another season ruined by injury, and it remains to be seen what his future holds. His $26 million cap hit is enormous for a player who has played little football the past two seasons. A new deal is likely sought, or the Vikings may decide to move on. That would leave a lot of space on the team for a player like Robinson to try and force himself into.
Finally, we come to a more unforeseen and unfortunate injury. Defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman’s excitement about being drafted by the Minnesota Vikings was short-lived. Twyman was one of the multiple victims of a shooting during a visit to his Aunt. Twyman was struck by rounds in the arm, leg, buttocks, and shoulder which saw him put on reserve with a non-football injury designation. Fingers crossed he will be ready and good as new this preseason.
If the photo he put up on Twitter is anything to go by, he is working hard already. It will be great to see him out there on the practice field with a chance to prove what he can do.
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