5 Players the Vikings Need Big Seasons from on Offense

17 Final Injury Report
Jan 2, 2022; Green Bay, WI, USA; Minnesota Vikings center Garrett Bradbury (56) is chased by Green Bay Packers safety Adrian Amos (31) after recovering a fumble at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Wm. Glasheen/Appleton Post-Crescent -USA TODAY NETWORK.

If the Vikings are going to follow up the 13-win season from head coach Kevin O’Connell’s first season with another successful year, they’ll need some players to step up. First, concentrating on the offensive side of the ball, I’m choosing five players the Vikings need big seasons from on offense.

5 Players the Vikings Need Big Seasons from on Offense

I’m not looking at the likes of Justin Jefferson and Kirk Cousins, the star players who should be expected to be top performers. Those players new to the team will be taking on an increased role, or the Vikings need to see significant improvement from — are who I’m looking for.

Jordan Addison

Need Big Seasons
Apr 27, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; USC wide receiver Jordan Addison with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Minnesota Vikings twenty-third overall in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

There’s no better place to start than this year’s first-round draft pick. Jordan Addison had an impressive 3134 receiving yards and 29 touchdowns in three college seasons. In his second season at Pittsburgh, a 1593-yard and 17 touchdowns season saw him win the Biletnikoff Award for 2021 — an award for the most outstanding wide receiver in college football, won by Vikings legend Randy Moss in 1997.

It also got him a transfer to USC for his last season in college, where his stats weren’t as impressive against a better caliber of opposition, but still a respectable 875 yards and 8 touchdowns in 11 games.

The knock against Addison going into the draft was his small stature (5’11, 173 lbs) holding him back from being a true WR1. The Vikings don’t need that with Jefferson around; they need a WR2 to replace the recently departed Adam Thielen. Addison was compared to Eagles WR DeVonta Smith in the build-up to the draft. The Philadelphia man has proven the smaller receiver can have success in the WR2 role.

Addison’s strength is his route running, with the word “smooth” used to describe his work at early team events. The Vikings need 700 yards and 6 touchdowns from him to replace what Thielen did last season.

Ed Ingram

Unsung Young Viking
Mar 4, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Louisiana State offensive lineman Ed Ingram (OL21) runs the 40-yard dash during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The interior offensive line always seems to be a place for the Vikings to focus on improvement. No player needs to improve more in the 2023 season than Ed Ingram. The former LSU left guard was moved to the right to begin his NFL career, and he found life challenging. Ingram did show improvement in the second half of the season. Perhaps familiarity with the system, playing on the right side, and playing at a higher level started to come through.

Expectations should be high for a guard with the investment of a second-round draft pick. It’s unfair to expect the world in a rookie season, but in Year 2, Ingram needs to show at least the potential to be a good-quality starting guard. I’m what is the weakest area of the Vikings offense; a significant improvement from Ingram can help the Vikings solidify themselves as one of the best offenses in the league.

Garrett Bradbury

Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings center Garrett Bradbury (56) on the sidelines before a game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

Garrett Bradbury would have made this list last season, and in a contract year, he did have a much improved season. The performances of the 2019 first-round pick over his first three seasons weren’t close to being good enough for the Vikings to consider exercising his fifth-year option. His improvement last season was enough to get him a new contract in Minnesota; he needs to maintain that level as a minimum.

Bradbury will always have problems with the elite big athletic interior pass rushers. Avoiding him being singled out one-on-one by those players would seem a good idea, as would allowing him to use his own athleticism to stamp his authority on a game. An improvement from the whole offense in the running game and on play-action and screen passes would help.

Josh Oliver

Nov 27, 2022; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Josh Oliver (84) leaps for a pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports.

That brings us nicely to Josh Oliver, the only new signing to make this list. The tight end arrives in Minnesota after his best season so far in the NFL. He started nine games for the Baltimore Ravens and made 14 catches for 149 yards and 2 touchdowns. A third-round pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars back in 2019, Oliver hasn’t had the impact as a playmaker many had expected. 

However, he has garnered a reputation as a good blocking tight end and could prove a good foil for T.J. Hockenson. The Vikings offensive line can benefit from some extra muscle, and if O’Connell can unlock Oliver’s potential as a pass catcher, that would be a massive bonus. He is an underrated player that could thrive in an offense with several players that draw attention away from him.

Alexander Mattison

Year 1 of the O'Connell Era
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) reacts after losing a wildcard game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

For the first time in a while, there has been some suggestion that Dalvin Cook might stay in Minnesota. If he doesn’t, and the Vikings do turn to Alexander Mattison, then he has big shoes to fill. Cook, who has been playing on a banged-up shoulder, was inconsistent at times last season, with many running plays that went nowhere.

However, he possessed that rare ability to do something magical, like the 81-yard touchdown run against the Bills or the 64-yard screen pass he took to the house against the Colts. You lose that with Mattison, who doesn’t have the same ability as Cook. 

Mattison has shown enough to believe he can be a solid running back, but after four seasons as Cook’s backup, we don’t know if he can be a workhorse back for a full season. The Vikings could take more of a running back by-committee approach, figuring in Ty Chandler and DeWayne McBride, but Mattison has to lead the rushing attack if Cook moves on.

He needs to have the best season of his career for the Vikings offense to have the balance required to be successful.