A Couple of Vikings Rookies Are Expected to Star Early

3 Rookies Could
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The Vikings rookies arrived at TCO Performance Center on Sunday, officially kicking off training camp. While the 2022 rookies are trying to redeem themselves after a disappointing debut season, the new arrivals enter training camp with a clean slate and try to hit the ground running. Two of them are highly touted and could make an impact early.

A Couple of Vikings Rookies Are Expected to Star Early

With Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth spending most of their rookie campaigns injured, the Vikings virtually have two draft classes simultaneously functioning as reinforcements. Cine is fully healthy now, and Booth drew praise from teammate K.J. Osborn earlier in the summer, but the new rookie class is foreseen to have two early standouts. One made Chris Trapasso’s (CBS Sports) preseason All-Rookie team, and the other one was an honorable mention.

A Couple of Vikings Rookies Are Expected to Star Early
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It was a phenomenal running back class, according to most pundits. The two first-rounders – Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs – were the top choices in Trapasso’s team, but Vikings seventh-rounder DeWayne McBride came in as the only honorable mention at the position.

Many viewed McBride as a mid-round draft pick, but he fell all the way to the Vikings in the seventh round, possibly because of his nagging injury that prevented him from properly testing at the combine. His record of catching passes is virtually non-existent, which is also a problem in today’s NFL. But Trapasso is still optimistic about one of his favorite rookies.

First-rounder, first-rounder, and, yes, a seventh-round selection. I’ve been riding the McBride train from the moment he was picked by the Vikings in the final round of the 2023 draft, and said train got a fuel-boost when Dalvin Cook was released weeks ago. McBride had Day 2 talent and is part of a running back room with Alexander Mattison and Ty Chandler that operates behind a fortified offensive line in Kevin O’Connell’s branch-off-the-Shanahan-tree rushing attack.

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McBride totaled more than 3,000 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns in the last two seasons of his journey at UAB. If his production translates to success in the NFL, the league, and Alexander Mattison, could be in trouble. However, he tallied those numbers against lower-level competition and not quite in the SEC. He’ll certainly be one of the main attractions in training camp, and his potential seems high.

He must compete with Ty Chandler and Kene Nwangwu for the backup duties before he can push Alexander Mattison for the starting gig.

But not only McBride will draw interest in training camp, but also first-round pick Jordan Addison. After making the news with an off-the-field incident, Trapasso expects the wideout to shine on the field.

While he didn’t make his first team as one of the two top perimeter WRs, he is listed as a second-team receiver.

Vikings Rookie Unfazed
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I was lower on Addison than the masses, mostly due to his tiny frame and average-at-best pre-draft workout. He is a smooth, slippery route runner and plays more athletically with the ball in his hands. Plus ball-tracking to his game too, and he’s unlikely to see much coverage rolled in his direction playing in the same offense as Justin Jefferson. 

Many pundits share those concerns about Addison but still regarded him as a fantastic prospect. The rookie played at Pittsburgh for two seasons, helping Kenny Pickett to hear his name called in the first round en route to winning the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best receiver.

Fans Finalize Prediction
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After his excellent season, he transferred to USC, where he could play with Caleb Williams – potentially the next first-overall pick – in Lincoln Riley’s offense. Riley is an offensive mastermind and highly regarded in the college ranks. Addison’s numbers dropped significantly in the new spread offense, but he still led his team in receptions, yards, and touchdowns.

The slight frame is a slight concern, but he produced in college with it, and there are ways to work around it, especially when the safety help focuses on Justin Jefferson. His first task is beating out K.J. Osborn for the WR2 duties in the WR-friendly offense of the Vikings.

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