Vikings Looking to Showcase Physical Identity 

Oct 3, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Harrison Phillips (99) on the sideline before a game against the Houston Texans at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the dust has settled from Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell’s first draft — if you forget about the trades and whether or not they were good value, stop worrying about the fact that they didn’t draft a certain player you liked, and if you take the time to look at the players they drafted — a pattern emerges.

I certainly see a trend in the players they selected. The Minnesota Vikings are looking to get a physical identity.

Some fans may have wanted a new quarterback or another exciting weapon on offense like Jameson Williams. The Minnesota Vikings came into the 2022 draft with a mission to fix the defense, a unit that had performed so poorly last season.

The Vikings will hope to have Danielle Hunter healthy for a full season and made some significant signings in Za’Darius Smith, Harrison Phillips, and Jordan Hicks. However, the biggest issue was the secondary, and other than re-signing Patrick Peterson. No moves had been made heading into the draft. 

It seemed the Vikings planned to address this area in the draft, and so it proved. Lewis Cine was selected with the 32nd pick, Andrew Booth Jnr with the 42nd pick, and Akayleb Evans with the 118th pick. One safety and two cornerbacks transformed the outlook of the Vikings secondary. A lot depends on these rookies fulfilling their potential, but an area of the team that looked bleak early in this offseason is now full of potential.

Lewis Cine is a smart, rangy safety who comes downhill into tackles like a wrecking ball. Andrew Booth has the size, athleticism, instincts, and ball skills to go toe to toe on the outside. He is also a tough, physical corner who loves blowing up screens and helping in run support. Akayleb Evans is another physically imposing player who delivers an imposing strike when he tackles.

When you add in the selections of linebacker Brian Asamoah (pick 66) fast, see-ball-get-ball linebacker who will deliver a menacing hit — as well as Esezi Otomewo (pick 165) who is a big physical edge defender — a philosophy on how this team is being built starts to form. 

The Vikings tackling last season was often not up to the required standard, so it doesn’t surprise me that the new regime in charge has brought in some guys who tackle like they mean it. Whether it was players getting older, playing on injuries, or players coming in just not showing the kind of explosion and ferocity you want from a player in tackles, it was a clear issue that new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell has been quick to address.

Jul 28, 2021; Englewood, CO, United States; Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Despite losing Michael Pierce, the addition of Harrison Phillips should mean the Vikings are still stout up the middle. The hope will be for a fully healthy Danielle Hunter and the new additions to make the Vikings defense a much tougher proposition for opposing offenses on the edge and in the open field, the two areas they really struggled with last season.

Creating an identity and a philosophy has been at the forefront of everything Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has said since becoming the Vikings general manager. His first draft saw the Minnesota Vikings building a physical identity. Get ready for some big hitting from this Vikings team this season and a fast, physical and violent brand of football on defense. 

Add that to what promises to be an explosive offense, and you have something any football fan can get behind. I know I can,

Former Vikings TE Joins Saints

Vikings Territory: Former Vikings TE Joins Saints