The Vikings 11 Projected Starters on Offense

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Dec 9, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) celebrates his touchdown with wide receiver K.J. Osborn. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

While starting personnel could change for the Minnesota Vikings before the 53-man roster is announced on August 30th, the team has surprisingly few battles for starting jobs. Thanks to training camp and preseason, projecting the Vikings starters is not too daunting.

These are the 11 projected starters for the 2022 Vikings on offense.

QB — Kirk Cousins

Oct 17, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

The ultimate no-brainer here, Kirk Cousins is the undisputed QB1 for the Vikings. He enters Year 5 with the team, needing to lead Minnesota to the postseason to secure further employment. The Vikings recommitted to Cousins after missing the playoffs thrice in four tries. Still, Cousins is “the guy.”

RB — Dalvin Cook

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Oct 17, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

Cook likely has two to three years left of upper-echelon production, but he recently turned 27. That age is when RB1s tend to slow down. But by most accounts, Cook is a top-three running back, so he should be utilized heavily — perhaps as a pass-catcher, too.

FB — C.J. Ham

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Sep 19, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Minnesota Vikings fullback C.J. Ham. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports.

The mystery begins here. Will Minnesota use a fullback in its 2022 offense? Probably. The 2021 Los Angeles Rams, the team last employing Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell, did not use one. However, Ham is a versatile football player, and most Vikings faithful believe he’ll make the regular season roster.

WR — Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, K.J. Osborn

Nov 7, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) and wide receiver K.J. Osborn. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports.

Three WRs were plopped here in case Ham is not a part of the depth chart. Then, Osborn, a TE2, or RB2 would technically be considered a starter. The Vikings finally have a threesome of wide receivers with no mystery involved. Before 2021, it was always a “big two” (Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs or Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson), but Osborn rose to power as the WR3 in 2021.

TE — Irv Smith

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Jan 3, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports.

We blinked, and Irv Smith is in the final year of his contract. For the first time, barring injury, Smith will be showcased as the TE1. He was injured for all of 2021, and before last year, he shared the TE1 workload with Kyle Rudolph.

LT — Christian Darrisaw

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Darrisaw is [somehow] drawing comparisons to Trent Williams, the future Hall of Fame left tackle for the San Francisco 49ers. That cannot be bad news for anybody — except opposing EDGE rushers.

LG — Ezra Cleveland

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Nov 1, 2020; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) celebrates with offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports.

Cleveland has quietly progressed as a commendable starting left guard, even though he played tackle in college. There was uncertainty about the LG spot heading in 2021, but Cleveland seized the job and made it his own.

C — Garrett Bradbury

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Jan 2, 2022; Green Bay, WI, USA; Minnesota Vikings center Garrett Bradbury. © Appleton Post-Crescent-USA TODAY NETWORK.

The other large Vikings mystery, will Garrett Bradbury hold onto the starting job? He will likely get an audition for it while the Vikings coach staff maintains a quick hook to Chris Reed or Austin Schlottmann as contingency plans. Like Irv Smith, Bradbury is in the final year of his rookie contract.

RG — Ed Ingram

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Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings guard Ed Ingram. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Jesse Davis may formally still get the nod at RG, but Ingram deserves the job. If a team invests 2nd-Round draft capital in an interior offensive lineman, that player should start sooner than later. Because the Vikings have been beset by porous interior offensive line performance for about a decade, let’s bank on the “sooner” as now for Ingram.

RT — Brian O’Neill

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Dec 5, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings center Mason Cole (52), Ezra Cleveland (72), and offensive tackle Brian O’Neill. © David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports.

Old reliable — and he isn’t very old — O’Neill anchored the Vikings offensive through various dark times in the last four years. Now, he’s the second-highest-paid right tackle on the planet.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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