2 Vikings Rookies Fetch ESPN Kudos

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For as much heat as Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah endured for his first draft class, the sequel is quite exhilarating.

Even though the Vikings are experiencing contributions from 2022 rookies Ed Ingram (RG), Akayleb Evans (CB), Ty Chandler (RB), Andrew Booth (CB), and Jalen Nailor (WR) in 2023, some fans apparently wanted the class to be perfect.

2 Vikings Rookies Fetch ESPN Kudos

It was not, but Adofo-Mensah’s second act is off to a better start.

This week, ESPN afforded kudos to Minnesota for two marvelous rookies: Jordan Addison (WR) and Ivan Pace (LB). The sports media giant ranked the league’s Top 10 rookies through 14 weeks, and Addison earned No. 9 placement while Pace was an honorable mention.

Rookies Fetch ESPN
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“Addison’s momentum has slowed some since quarterback Kirk Cousins suffered a season-ending Achilles injury. Addison hasn’t topped 70 yards in the past five games and hasn’t reached 50 yards in the past three, as the offense as a whole struggled,” ESPN’s Jeff Legwold opined.

The rookie wideout has tallied 56 receptions, 713 receiving yards, and 7 touchdowns this season.

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Legwold added, “But he is still fourth among rookie receivers in receptions behind Nacua, Zay Flowers and Rashee Rice, and he has a bright future in the Vikings’ offense.”

Addison curiously hasn’t found the endzone since Kirk Cousins hit injured reserve. Minnesota rolled with Joshua Dobbs at quarterback for the last five games, and the two did not forge a connection, at least not one that produced points.

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On Pace, the synopsis was even rosier. Jordan Reid wrote, “Ivan Pace Jr, LB, Minnesota Vikings. One of the biggest steals of the 2023 draft came after its conclusion. Pace, who went undrafted, has been an unsung hero for the Vikings’ defense. He took control of Brian Flores’ unit after linebacker Jordan Hicks suffered a leg injury in Week 10.”

General managers said no thanks to Pace in the draft because he’s about an inch and a half shorter than a prototypical off-ball linebacker. Yet, after the draft, Minnesota did not care, signing the youngster to a three-year deal, and for now, the rest is history.

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“Pace is an instinctive and aggressive tackler (68 this season, along with 2.5 sacks and an interception), and he is playing in the perfect defense to showcase his skill set,” Reid added.

Vikings rookie cornerback Mekhi Blackmon was not mentioned in the ESPN piece, but Pro Football Focus considers him the NFL’s 10th-best corner — among rookies and veterans — entering Week 15.

Minnesota takes on the Bengals in Cincinnati on Saturday.

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 OverTheCap.com.