Pair of Vikings Rookies Make CBS Midseason All-Rookie Team

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Rookie minicamp highlights from Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison's first practice as a Viking after being selected in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Addison played at the University of Pittsburgh and USC in college.

Eight weeks have elapsed in the 2023 NFL season, which means it’s time for all the midseason reviews and teams to roll in. A pair of Vikings rookies make the CBS All-Rookie team, and they come from the opposite end of the draft experience.

Pair of Vikings Rookies Make CBS Midseason All-Rookie Team

Originally, Baltimore Ravens wide-out Zay Flowers appeared on the team but was soon switched out for Jordan Addison. Someone at CBS must have realized that leaving out the guy with the second-most touchdown passes in the league wasn’t a smart move.

Addison takes his rightful place in the team after filling the huge shows of Justin Jefferson during his absence through injury with aplomb. The rookie has 36 receptions from 52 targets for 482 receiving yards and an incredible 7 touchdowns — 21 of his 36 catches have been for a first down.

Pair of Vikings Rookies
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) does a Lambeau Leap with Vikings fans Craig Lindsay, Nick Johnson, and Chris Gangl against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, October 29, 2023, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Vikings won the game, 24-10. © Tork Mason / USA TODAY NETWORK.

A good start to the season for Addison became great for Addison when he stepped in for Jefferson and produced, helping the Vikings to three straight wins in the process. The expectation on a first-round rookie is always high, and an immediate contribution is expected. That doesn’t always happen, but Addison has been a big hit over his first eight games as a Viking. Here is what Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports had to say of the Vikings rookie’s selection to the team:

Addison has done a marvelous job stepping into the No. 1 wideout role in Minnesota after the serious hamstring injury Justin Jefferson suffered weeks ago. He has seven touchdowns on the season and has worked diligently to improve his separation ability against press coverage that hampered his productivity in September. Addison also has not dropped a pass entering Week 9. 

Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

Amongst a plethora of first-round picks sits the Vikings undrafted gem, proving to everybody that it doesn’t matter where you get drafted — it’s what you do with your opportunity that counts. Pace is one of two linebackers selected to the team along with division rival Detroit Lions first-rounder Jack Campbell. Here is what Trapasso had to say of the Vikings undrafted rookies selection to the team:

The rookie class of linebackers doesn’t have a true stud halfway through 2023 — except a second-level defender who wasn’t drafted at all in Pace. The blitzing extraordinaire has been too good for Minnesota to keep him off the field to begin his NFL career. He’s logged the third-most snaps among rookie linebackers and has easily been the most consistent in all phases of playing the position. Pace has registered nine pressures on 55 pass-rush snaps and has only missed two tackles. So much for being too small. 

Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports

After going undrafted, things couldn’t have worked out much better for Pace, starting with signing for the Vikings and being taken under the wing of Brian Flores. The ability to blitz that Pace possesses is a perfect match for a Flores defense, and the Vikings defensive coordinator has used Pace to great effect this season. The rookie saw the field a lot over the first five games, and then Flores said they would look to dial that back a bit not to ask too much of their rookie.

The Vikings also only put one inside linebacker (always Jordan Hicks) on the field a fair amount — using Josh Metellus as a sort of safety/linebacker hybrid. Pace is still getting his opportunities and looks like a fierce competitor who’s about to make something happen every time he steps on the field. Through the first eight games of his career, he has logged 31 tackles, 5 QB hits, 0.5 sacks, and 1 pass deflection. It has been an exceptional start to a career for an undrafted rookie, and one he will hope to continue to build throughout the second half of the season.

A Good Start for the 2023 Rookies

Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah still cops a lot of criticism for his first draft in 2022, despite the fact the Vikings currently have two starters from that draft in Ed Ingram and Akayleb Evans, with Ty Chandler and Andrew Booth starting to contribute too. Unfortunately, it’s been a difficult time for first-round pick Lewis Cine, who still hasn’t seen the field on defense. That’s the first place people will look to with so much value put in a first-round pick.

The Vikings Will Stay Close to Home in 2023
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

It’s been a much brighter start for this year’s rookie class, though, with first-rounder Addison leading the way and down to the undrafted Pace.

Minnesota’s third-round CB Mekhi Blackmon has also made a promising start from limited opportunities. He stood out in the last game against Green Bay, where he had three pass deflections and a 90.1 grade from Pro Football Focus — with a coverage grade of 90.2. It will be interesting to see if the rookie can back that performance up in the coming weeks.

Jaquelin Roy has received some playing time on the defensive line, but the biggest story of all could be about to take place as the Vikings put a rookie under center for the game against the Falcons on Sunday. If Jaren Hall can prove at least a steady hand who can keep the Vikings offense functional for the remainder of the season, this will have been an excellent year for Vikings rookies.