Vikings Have a ‘Best Kept Secret’

5 Vikings Should Get
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The Vikings have some outstanding talent on the roster. Justin Jefferson, a fourth-year wideout, is in the conversation to be the best player in the league as the reigning Offensive Player of the Year. His likely soon-to-be-signed contract will adjust his salary to his worth.

Vikings Have a ‘Best Kept Secret’

Two of the other great players on the team are the two defenders, Harrison Smith and Danielle Hunter, who will be leaders of a young defensive group overseen by defensive coordinator Brian Flores. But stars don’t make a team. They need many more contributors. One Vikings defender was named the team’s best-kept secret.

Best kept
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Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine designated one unheralded player of each team who deserves more credit, and his choice for the Vikings was linebacker Brian Asamoah. Ballentine set himself some interesting rules for the thought experiment:

We are taking in football in an era driven by several stars. From Patrick Mahomes to Tyreek Hill to Micah Parsons and Justin Jefferson, we are living in an era of incredibly top-level talent.

But it takes more than star power for a team to be successful. On each roster, there’s at least one important player who deserves a little more credit. They are the best-kept secrets who could wind up being important pieces in 2023.

To lay down some parameters we aren’t talking about former first-round draft picks. They tend to get plenty of attention. The same goes for anyone who has been named to an All-Pro or Pro Bowl roster.

Rookies also won’t be considered because they have yet to actually play in the league.

His rules eliminated Jordan Addison because he is a rookie and T.J. Hockenson because of his Pro Bowl appearance. Hunter, Smith, Kirk Cousins, and Brian O’Neill also have some Pro Bowls on their resume, and Christian Darrisaw, who was snubbed from the Pro Bowl, was a first-rounder, so he wasn’t available either, just like All-Pro Jefferson.

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The Vikings have a top-heavy team with plenty of star players, which shows when looking at the long list of ineligible players. Asamoah is still an interesting choice as a player without much experience in the NFL. He is still just a projection to some degree but the Vikings bank on that projection.

When the Minnesota Vikings released Eric Kendricks in March it didn’t just clear $10 million in cap space, it cleared the path of Brian Asamoah to take on a much larger role in the Vikings defense in 2023.

Asamoah was largely a special teamer in his rookie season. The third-round pick didn’t really get to play a role on defense until about Week 15 when he logged 21 snaps and played over 25 snaps in the next two games.

In that small three-game sample size he registered 14 total tackles, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He missed just one tackle.

The Vikings obviously have some faith that Asamoah will be able to step into a starting role this season. They released Kendricks and only signed Troy Reeder, a soon-to-be 29-year-old who was a reserve linebacker for the Chargers last year, to replace him.

Asamoah is going to get every opportunity to take a starting role, and he flashed the ability to be an asset for the Vikings defense last season.

Alex Ballentine, Bleacher Report

The 2022 third-rounder is fully expected to take over as the starting linebacker in the upcoming season next to Jordan Hicks. Eric Kendricks handled off-ball linebacker duties for almost a decade in Minnesota and was a huge part of Mike Zimmer’s successful defensive units.

After some decline was easy to spot, and the Vikings had to save some cap space, they decided to release Kendricks, which opened up a huge opportunity for Asamoah.

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Asamoah is an aggressive linebacker with great explosiveness. Last year’s defense lacked both of those attributes. New defensive coordinator Brian Flores appears to be a coach who wants players like Asamoah. He drafted some other feisty guys.

The young linebacker played only 119 defensive snaps but displayed tremendous promise. He will be a significant part of the defensive turnaround. His competition will be career backups Troy Dye and Troy Reeder and undrafted rookie Ivan Pace who has some fascinating skills and elite college production but an undrafted rookie ending up as a starter in his first year would be highly surprising. It’s officially Brian Asamoah season in the Vikings universe.

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