Vikings Rookie Defensive Class Down to 1 Great Hope in 2022

Vikings Rookie Defensive Class Down to 1 Great Hope in 2022
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah used the 2022 NFL Draft to select five defensive players with his first six picks.

And as of November 28th, one of those picks is the last great hope to impact the 2022 team — cornerback Akayleb Evans.

Foremost, this was the Vikings 2022 draft class for context. Defenders are bolded in red:

  • R1: Lewis Cine, S (Georgia)
  • R2: Andrew Booth Jr., CB (Clemson)
  • R2: Ed Ingram, G (LSU)
  • R3: Brian Asamoah, LB (Oklahoma)
  • R4: Akayleb Evans, CB (Missouri)
  • R5: Esezi Otomewo, DE (Minnesota)
  • R5: Ty Chandler, RB (North Carolina)
  • R6: Vederian Lowe, OT (Illinois)
  • R6: Jalen Nailor, WR (Michigan St.)
  • R7: Nick Muse, TE (South Carolina)
Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports.

Evans, the 4th-Rounder from Missouri, earned a starting spot after an injury to starting corner Cameron Dantzler in Week 9. In fact, Evans played wonderfully that afternoon at the Washington Commanders. And because Dantzler’s timetable for return is uncertain — it may be Week 14; it may be later — Evans has the best shot at vindicating Adofo-Mensah’s defensive rookie haul, at least in the short-term.

Lewis Cine, the team’s 1st-Rounder, was lost for the season to a broken leg in London. He’s trending to return next September. But even before his gruesome injury, Cine didn’t play much. Cine is the plan for life after Harrison Smith and should have an opportunity to supplant Camryn Bynum next summer.

Andrew Booth, who the team traded up to grab in April, will have knee surgery this week, casting his 2022 status into serious doubt. More information will be available about Booth later this week. Typically, “these things” end up in the player lost for the season.

Linebacker Brian Asamoah could still put a thumbprint on the 2022 team, but he hardly plays on defense. Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks have remained healthy, rendering Asamoah’s rookie season one for the special teams variety. He’s played 29 defensive plays in his maiden voyage, or 2.6 per game.

Finally, former Gopher Esezi Otomewo hasn’t played at all as a rookie. Even with a prolonged injury to Dalvin Tomlinson, Otomewo has experienced a shutout for playing time.

Vikings Youth to Be Tested Sunday
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

So, for the most part, that leaves Evans to salvage the rookie seasons of all Adofo-Mensah’s defensive draft choices. None of the aforementioned men are doomed for the long-term, but Evans is “the guy” tabbed to make a good first impression down the stretch of 2022.

And he seems to be on track for another chapter versus Mike White and the Jets on Sunday.

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 Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).