Vikings Check 1 Offseason Box
The Minnesota Vikings are still in the phase of voluntary OTAs before the mandatory minicamp takes place next week on June 13 and 14. After that, players will have a summer break until training camp arrives. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah crossed off one task on his offseason checklist.
Vikings Check 1 Offseason Box
DeWayne McBride, a seventh-round draft pick, signed his rookie contract, the Vikings announced. The other five picks of the draft class had already signed their deals, so the whole class of six players is now under contract.
McBride took the field for the first time in OTAs on Tuesday, according to Alec Lewis from The Athletic. He was recovering from a nagging hamstring injury that bothered him for months. It forced him to sit out the NFL combine and his pro day which might have been a reason why he was available in the seventh round of the draft despite having a productive college career like few others.
Finally practicing during OTAs means that the rookie should be ready to go for training camp in late July. That will be an important event for him. If the Vikings move on from Davlin Cook, and they are still expected to do so, the starting RB job would be vacant. Longtime backup Alexander Mattison is the favorite to succeed the veteran.
However, McBride, kick return specialist Kene Nwangwu, and 2022 rookie Ty Chandler will do their best to complete the upset and win the starting gig or at the very least claim a significant role in the offense after six years of Cook getting the most offensive snaps when healthy.
Training camp will be even more important for the running backs if Cook remains on the roster because at least one of them will not make the team in that case. Teams usually carry three or four running backs and the Vikings also have fullback C.J. Ham under contract. In 2022, the first year of the new regime, the Vikes kept five backs, including Ham, on the team which is unorthodox. But even if they repeat that, one of the backups would still have to pack his bags in that case.
McBride is a great pure runner but lacks experience in the passing game, especially as a pass catcher. His college offense at UAB did not use him as a receiver which is in an area where Chandler and Mattison have a clear advantage. Regardless, he is a talented runner and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him make some noise in training camp and preseason. Some compared him and his potential impact to last year’s seventh-rounder Isaiah Pacheco who was the lead back during the Super Bowl run of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2022.
The running back will join first-round pick Jordan Addison and fifth-round selection Jaren Hall in meetings of the offense. Addison is expected to play a meaningful role in the offense while Hall has the luxury to sit and learn from head coach Kevin O’Connell behind Kirk Cousins and Nick Mullens without any pressure.
Defensive coordinator Brian Flores has three draft picks on his side of the ball. The two defensive backs Jay Ward and Mekhi Blackmon are fantastic fits in his defense and will compete for roles in the shaky cornerback room. Defensive tackle Jaquelin Roy enters a defensive line group without much high-end talent which is why he could be a surprise starter at some point sooner rather than later.
The Vikings hope for more contributions from this year’s group of rookies compared to last year’s that made more noise on the injury reports than on the actual field.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt