Can the Vikings Salvage Their Rookie Class?

Can the Vikings Salvage Their Rookie Class?
Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Can the Vikings Salvage Their Rookie Class?

On Sunday, Minnesota played across the pond against the New Orleans Saints. While their performance netted a victory, it wasn’t pretty. Aside from the actual result, arguably the most gruesome thing on the field was the injury to first-round pick Lewis Cine. His absence now leaves the Vikings with a question mark regarding the 2022 NFL Draft class.

When Kwesi Adofo-Mensah took over as general manager for the fired Rick Spielman, he would have an opportunity to put his analytical approach on Minnesota’s draft class. Needing secondary help for a porous defense, specifically at cornerback, he opted to go with a hitting safety in round one.

About the Vikings Next 'Big Move'
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

Despite Harrison Smith aging for Minnesota, he remains among the best safeties in the NFL and has racked up Pro Bowl appearances throughout his career. Anthony Harris was probably the last standout to play next to him, though, and ushering in the next wave before he’s gone made some sense.

Lewis Cine was drafted from the University of Georgia and was largely regarded as a strong tackler that could lay the wood. While his ability to cover is solid, it certainly was not his calling card. That could pair well with Smith as the season went on but clearly wasn’t going to be there right from the get-go. Cam Bynum drew the Week 1 start against the Green Bay Packers, and Josh Metellus started when the first injury popped up. Cine, who’d yet to crack consistent playing time (in part to injury), was working mostly with the special teams unit.

After being carted off with what we now know was a broken leg, Cine’s season is over, and it’s on the rest of the rookie class to bear fruit this season. The problem is, where does that come from?

As noted earlier, secondary help needed to be a focus this season, and Andrew Booth Jr. looked like a steal in the second round. He slipped due to injury, though, and we’re now seeing why. Minnesota has played four games, and he’s yet to leave the sideline because he’s spent his professional career on the trainer’s table. Booth could substantially impact The Purple, but it will require him to get and stay on the field.

The Vikings Final Injury Report: Week 2
Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Looking at the rest of the group, offensive lineman Ed Ingram has shown up in a big way earning Week 1 starting duties. He’s obviously shown his rookie status at times but essentially held his own. Growth throughout the season will be imperative for an offensive line trying to hide center Garrett Bradbury. 

Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess who could factor in. Brian Asamoah is an athletic freak that I noted being someone worth keeping an eye on at the linebacker position, but he’s still a bit buried on the depth chart. Akayleb Evans has played sparingly, allowing five receptions on the five targets directed towards him. Ty Chandler is a fan favorite but doesn’t factor in without injuries in the running back room. Vederian Lowe and Jalen Nailor should be seen as little more than depth this season.

Ultimately a draft isn’t about immediate production as much as sustained development. That said, right now, two of the Vikings top three picks have provided next to no value this season, and it’s guaranteed their first-round pick is done. This group needs some performers to step up and carry the group if there will be success stories in year one.




Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.