2 Vikings Players in PFF’s Top 15 Rookies
Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah came under criticism for the immediate results of his first draft, though it’s not looking so bad a year on. Results from his second draft show promising signs at an earlier stage with two Vikings in PFF’s Top 15 rookies.
2 Vikings Players in PFF’s Top 15 Rookies
Right now, that first draft has given the Vikings a starting right guard (Ed Ingram) and a starting cornerback (Akayleb Evans), with second-round pick Andrew Booth finally showing his potential. Ty Chandler looked promising in his first game as RB2, and Jalen Nailor and Brian Asamoah have shown promise when not injured.
First-round pick Lewis Cine has been a disappointment, and following a broken leg last season still isn’t close to playing on defense. At this point, he just isn’t fulfilling the expectations of a first-round pick. There has to be a concern that his injury has affected him. A broken leg is not easy to overcome and be the same player you were before. Unfortunately, we have never got to see anything from Cine.
Adofo-Mensah’s second draft class, including a few undrafted rookies, is off to a flying start. First-round pick Jordan Addison has proved to be a great addition to the Vikings offense. Drafted to partner Justin Jefferson, Addison has shown he can pick up the slack in Jefferson’s absence, even amidst a QB crisis in Minnesota. Addison’s 603 yards and seven touchdowns weren’t enough to make the top 15, according to PFF.
Jaren Hall got a chance to start in his rookie season and looked promising before a concussion ended his game. Time will tell if he gets another chance. Jaquelin Roy has had some promising moments on the defensive line, and Jay Ward is playing special teams. The only player not on active roster from this year’s draft is DeWayne McBride, who is on the practice squad. Undrafted rookie Andre Carter has managed 30 snaps on defense, which is good going for an undrafted player.
It’s not as impressive as the Vikings undrafted rookie, who has taken the league by storm. Ivan Pace is unsurprisingly one of the Vikings players that make PFF’s list, and the other one is Mekhi Blackmon.
Here is what PFF had to say about the two Vikings players;
Mekhi Blackmon – PFF grade: 74.6
Blackmon makes his debut on this list off the back of a fantastic stretch of grading over his last three outings. His 89.2 coverage grade over that span ranks eighth among corners. This past week, he secured his first career interception to go along with his six forced incompletions on the season, fifth among rookie corners.Mason Cameron, Pro Football Focus
Ivan Pace – PFF grade: 74.0
The undrafted rookie continues to take strides in coverage over recent weeks. This past week, he recorded a pair of stops in coverage, bringing his season total to six. More impressively, though, Pace possesses the highest pass-rush win rate among all rookie defenders (26.7%), more than seven percentage points higher than the next player.Mason Cameron, Pro Football Focus
More Opportunity On The Horizon
As we head into the final seven games of the regular season, there should be more opportunities for the two rookies to play even more. Blackmon’s play in recent weeks warrants more playing time, and although I don’t think the Vikings will switch from their two starters — Byron Murphy and Akayleb Evans — at this point, with Brian Flores liking to use lots of defensive backs, Blackmon will get ample opportunity.
The Vikings took another huge injury blow this week with the news that Jordan Hicks was going on IR. He left the game against the Saints with what turned out to be compartment syndrome. Hicks will miss a minimum of four games, which leaves the door open for Pace to become the Vikings lead linebacker. Kevin O’Connell has already said he will take over the green dot (defensive player who receives the play call and relays it to his teammates) from Hicks, which will make him an every-down player.
The rookie has played on 50% of defensive snaps so far this season, and that workload looks set to double. Minnesota has turned to an old friend for assistance, signing Anthony Barr to boost the ranks at linebacker. The veteran hasn’t been playing anywhere this season, so I expect him to be a complimentary piece to the defense. The Vikings will have to lean on Pace as the main linebacker. There should be plenty of opportunities for Pace and Blackmon to continue their development, and if they carry on doing what they’ve done so far, the Vikings have found a couple of good ones.
Both will have the chance to continue to impress as the Vikings take on the Denver Broncos this week on Sunday Night Football.
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