Rick Spielman Particularly High on 1 Viking in 2023

Impressive Stat Paints Ex-Vikings Boss in Surprisingly Positive Light
Jul 28, 2018; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Rick Spielman worked for the Minnesota Vikings from 2006 to 2021, departing early in 2022 when new bossman Kwesi Adofo-Mensah took over.

And Spielman evidently keeps close tabs on his former team.

Rick Spielman Particularly High on 1 Viking in 2023

The 60-year-old now writes — quite frequently — for The 33rd Team, an NFL think-tank and analysis site that has really taken off in the last year. This week, Spielman and former NFL coach Dave Wannstedt detailed ‘breakout’ players for the upcoming 2023 season, and for the Vikings, it’s running back Alexander Mattison, according to Spielman.

Particularly High on
Dec 5, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (25) walks off the field after the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports.

Spielman personally chose Mattison in Round 3 of the 2019 NFL Draft, so it makes sense that he’d be high on the man some four years later. Too, incumbent RB1 Dalvin Cook could be traded or released in the coming weeks, paving the way for Mattison to, alas, assume RB1 duties for the first time in his career.

On Mattion in 2023, Spielman explained, “All the signs point to Mattison being the lead back in Minnesota this season. I was with the Vikings when we drafted Mattison in the third round out of Boise State in 2019. Every time he has gotten his opportunity to be on the field, he has made plays in the run game and in the passing game. He’s always been behind Cook, who is still an explosive playmaker. If Cook is not in Minnesota, he will play somewhere else.”

GM Ignites Beef
Sep 28, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman looks on prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

Mattison averages 4.6 yards per touch in his career, and if the Vikings afford Mattison a Cook-like workload of 300 touches in 2023, he’ll fetch about 1,400 yards from scrimmage. Of course, Minnesota could lean into a full RB-by-committee with Ty Chandler and rookie DeWayne McBride, but that’s merely a May theory.

Spielman continued about Mattison’s proposed breakout, “The Vikings must feel strongly that Mattison could step in and carry the load. When he’s played, he’s averaged more than 100 yards combined rushing and receiving. He’s an excellent football player, and he’s an even better person and a high-character guy. He works extremely hard, and if he gets his opportunity to be running back No. 1, watch out. He will be the next very good Minnesota Vikings running back.”

Youngest Offseason
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) walks off the field after the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

Mattison re-signed with the Vikings in March, a transaction that fell out of the sky. Because folks weren’t sure if Cook would be back and Chandler was on the roster — Chandler is older than Mattison — most thought Mattison would join an RB-needy team. Yet, the Vikings appeared to covet his locker-room presence as well and reunited with Mattison for an extra two years.

He’ll turn 25 in three weeks.

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.