The 3 Most Improved Vikings Players thru 11 Games

The Vikings 2022 Defense by the Numbers: After Week 12
Minnesota Vikings linebacker Za'Darius Smith, left, and linebacker Jordan Hicks, right, celebrate with D.J. Wonnum. © Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Minnesota Vikings have six games left of the 2023 regular season agenda and are in firm command of reaching the playoffs, so long as they finish the season with a 3-3 record at worst the rest of the way.

The 3 Most Improved Vikings Players thru 11 Games

The team’s five-game win spree after Week 5 really did a body good.

And performances from rejuvenated players in 2023 have helped the club turn fortunes around from a 1-4 record in October.

3 Most Improved Vikings
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These are the three most improved Vikings players through 11 games of 2023 listed alphabetically.

1. Jordan Hicks (ILB)

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Hicks is hurt right now with compartment syndrome, which is, of course, not ideal, but before the injury, he was balling out of control. In 2022, the veteran linebacker fired up a decent 65.4 Pro Football Focus grade with Ed Donatell in charge of the Vikings’ defense. Yet, after a single season with Brian Flores in charge, Hicks’ PFF grade has careened to 76.7.

He was on pace for a 148-tackle season, has markedly improved pass coverage, and has served as an anchor in the middle of the field. That’s why Minnesota signed Anthony Barr when Hicks fell injured, hoping to keep the guts of a suddenly good Vikings defense afloat.

Hicks should return near the end of the season, and until then, Minnesota will hope Barr and Brian Asamoah have the special sauce to fill his responsibilities.

2. Ed Ingram (RG)

Ingram Starting
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Throughout his entire rookie season and first few games of Year No. 2, Vikings fans believed Ingram was trending on an adverse trajectory. He made clumsy mistakes, like stepping on Kirk Cousins’ feet more than once.

With 2nd-Round draft capital attached to his resume, an offensive guard should thrive sooner than later and perhaps become a Pro Bowler later in his career. Ingram seemed miles behind that in 2022 and early 2023.

Until he matured on the fly.

Ingram isn’t a Pro Bowler, but his 60.6 PFF grade is trending in the right direction. For about a month and a half, fans have no longer debated his “bust” label nor the concept of benching him for Blake Brandel or Dalton Risner.

The LSU alumnus is actually developing nicely.

3. D.J. Wonnum (OLB)

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D.J. Wonnum is suddenly a formidable starting EDGE defender. During his first three seasons, he was a decent reservist commodity, but that changed through 11 games in 2023.

Newcomer Viking Marcus Davenport has missed most of his first season with the club due to injury, and when he departed with a high ankle sprain, Wonnum morphed into a Davenport-caliber starter seemingly out of nowhere. The man is on pace for 9 or 10 sacks, which is more than complementary to Danielle Hunter on the other side of the Vikings’ line.

Wonnum will hit free agency in March and might’ve done enough already in 2023 to convince the Vikings’ front office of a second contract.


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.

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