PFF’s Defensive Prediction for Vikings Is a Little Odd

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Free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft are far off in the rearview, and the next three months regarding Minnesota Vikings football will be used to whittle the current 90-man roster to 53 players.

Mandatory minicamp kicks off on June 13th.

PFF’s Defensive Prediction for Vikings Is a Little Odd

Attempting to project the Vikings 2023 starters, Pro Football Focus hopped out to a fast start this week, but one item was a little odd — well, two, actually.

Here are PFF’s defensive projections for the Vikings, the team’s starters:

  • DI Khyiris Tonga (77.8)
  • DI Harrison Phillips (72.0)
  • Edge Danielle Hunter (87.1)
  • Edge Marcus Davenport (76.8)
  • Edge Za’Darius Smith (83.3)
  • LB Jordan Hicks (66.7)
  • LB Brian Asamoah (78.8)
  • CB Byron Murphy Jr. (66.7)
  • CB Andrew Booth Jr. (45.3)
  • CB Akayleb Evans (47.2)
  • S Harrison Smith (68.4)
  • S Camryn Bynum (58.7)

Out of the gate, Za’Darius Smith no longer plays for the Vikings but is still listed as a starter. If Smith plays his cards right, he’ll start for the Cleveland Browns, not the Vikings.

But the other weird part is free safety, and in particular, Camryn Bynum.

Defensive Prediction for
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Bynum, indeed, was a starter in 2022, even beating out rookie safety Lewis Cine last summer. Hell, Bynum played 100% of all Vikings defensive snaps (!!) last year. Yet, if Bynum starts against the Tampa Bay Buccanneers in Week 1, it will have meant something went really pear-shaped for Cine.

The Vikings drafted Cine in Round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft, filling the summer with high hopes for the Georgia alumnus. But then Bynum earned the starting job, Cine was reduced to a reservist role, and the rookie broke his leg in London versus the New Orleans Saints weeks later.

Cine Update Is
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Since the compound leg fracture across the sea, Cine has been hellbent on a speedy recovery and is already in full motion at Vikings organized team activities. And according to onlookers, he looks great.

So, why would Bynum start once again in 2023 if Cine is healthy and ready to go? Benching Cine for a second consecutive summer would preview an ominous path for the defender, so much so that fans would begin to link the man with a bust characterization.

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Bynum was an average-to-decent safety in 2022 — evidenced by the 58.7 PFF grade above — but his body of work as a sophomore did nothing to keep Cine, the 1st-Rounder, at bay for another year. Assuming Cine doesn’t look buffoonish at training camp or in the preseason, the job should be Cine’s to lose, especially because this brand of Vikings leadership (Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell) drafted him.

Perhaps it was clerical oversight to insert Bynum or Cine — like the Za’Darius Smith gaffe. Otherwise, Cine has a mountain of a problem on his hands as a 1st-Round safety on the bench to start back-t0-back seasons.

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 Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by