Only One Surprise on Vikings List of 2023 Team Captains

Minnesota Vikings linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) against Green Bay Packers during their football game on Sunday, January, 1, 2023 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. © Wm. Glasheen/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Minnesota Vikings are 10 days away from the regular season and used Thursday morning to announce team captains for 2023.

Only One Surprise on Vikings List of 2023 Team Captains

These eight men will lead the club in Kevin O’Connell’s second season:

  • Kirk Cousins (QB)
  • C.J. Ham (FB)
  • Jordan Hicks (ILB)
  • Danielle Hunter (OLB)
  • Justin Jefferson (WR)
  • Josh Metellus (S)
  • Brian O’Neill (RT)
  • Harrison Smith (S)

Jefferson is a newcomer to team captaincy, but his rise to the badge largely feels like fruition because his leaguewide peers consider him the second-best player in the sport behind Patrick Mahomes. Naming captains without Jefferson this season would’ve been a little frothy.

Metellus picks up where he left off in 2022, named a captain after Brian O’Neill was lost for the season. The young safety will patrol the Vikings secondary this season and was even called an “unsung hero” by general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah a few months ago.

Cousins, Ham, Hunter, O’Neill, and Smith were team captains to start last season.

The real surprise on the captain’s list? Jordan Hicks.

Surprise on Vikings List
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The 31-year-old basically takes over the captain spot left behind Eric Kendricks, who bolted for the Los Angeles Chargers in March via free agency. It’s certainly not weird that Hicks is a team captain, but many may not have predicted it if polled.

Hicks started all 17 games for the Vikings in 2022, tabulating 129 total tackles, 10 passes defended, 3 sacks, 4 QB hits, and 1 forced fumble. He previously played for the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals. He fired up a 66.7 Pro Football Focus grade last season, ranking 34th among all NFL off-ball linebackers. His score outshined the aforementioned Kendricks (60.1) by a smidgen.

The Vikings 2022 Defense by the Numbers: After Week 3
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings were expected to explore the open free-agent market in March for another off-ball linebacker, perhaps a player like Devin Bush or David Long, but retained Hicks after the defender accepted a minor paycut. Kendricks left, Hicks stayed, Brian Asamoah was promoted, and then undrafted free-agent rookie Ivan Pace Jr. showed up out of nowhere this summer to round out the group. Troy Dye also made the 53-man roster.

In February, former Steelers linebackers coach Brian Flores took over the Vikings defense following Ed Donatell’s termination. Flores’ specialty is linebackers, linebackers, and more linebackers. So, with Hicks back in the saddle, Flores and the Vikings believe he can be a solution in 2023 and now a captain.

Vikings to Showcase
Minnesota Vikings Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Flores was hired in February 2023 to take over for Ed Donatel after Minnesota finished 30th in points allowed.

Minnesota’s defense ranked 30th in points allowed last year and 31st in yards allowed. Anything almost anything at all will be a welcome improvement, including Hicks’ newfound captaincy.

The Vikings are favored by 6.5 to take down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1.

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