3 Rookies Could Start for Vikings in 2023

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah & Kevin O’Connell Talk Free Agent Moves, Future at Quarterback & 2023 NFL Draft in Eagan, Minnesota, on April 13th, 2023. Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell joined the organization in January and February 2022, respectively.

The Minnesota Vikings welcomed these six rookies to the organization at the end of April:

  • R1: Jordan Addison (WR, USC)
  • R3: Mekhi Blackmon (CB, USC)
  • R4: Jay Ward (S, LSU)
  • R5: Jaquelin Roy (DT, LSU)
  • R5: Jaren Hall (QB, BYU)
  • R7: DeWayne McBride (RB, UAB)

3 Rookies Could Start for Vikings in 2023

And while the club has yet to undergo a training camp and preseason, the writing is on the wall that three rookies could win starting jobs by the time Week 1 rolls around.

These are those men.

1. Jordan Addison (WR)

3 Rookies Could
Apr 27, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; USC wide receiver Jordan Addison reacts after being selected by the Minnesota Vikings twenty-third overall in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Must Oust on Depth Chart:
K.J. Osborn

Addison was on the shelf with a minor injury toward the end of organized team activities and all of mandatory minicamp, which obviously doesn’t trend wonderfully for a starter’s forecast. However, that was spring, and summer is afoot.

The USC alumnus is expected to be ready for training camp, and when he arrives, he’ll have an all-in, scrappy WR2 battle on his hands with K.J. Osobrn. Last year’s WR3, Osborn, probably thought he was the WR2 for about a month, but then the Vikings drafted Addison, shattering Osborn’s WR2 forecast, at least for the long term.

Of course, even Justin Jefferson didn’t earn a WR2 job immediately in 2020, so Addison could marinate in a WR3 or WR4 role to start the regular season. Still, the Mike Zimmer coaching staff orchestrated Jefferson’s curious relegation, and Kevin O’Connell’s Vikings could be ready to start Addison out of the gate.

2. Mekhi Blackmon (CB)

Rookie minicamp highlights from Minnesota Vikings cornerback Mekhi Blackmon’s first practice as a Viking after being selected in the 2023 NFL Draft. Blackmon is a cornerback from USC drafted by Minnesota in Round 3 of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Must Oust on Depth Chart:

Blackmon should feel like he’s in the driver’s seat this summer. Minnesota didn’t re-sign 2022 slot cornerback Chandon Sullivan this offseason, and the veteran defender eventually landed with Patrick Peterson’s Pittsburgh Steelers.

There is no incumbent for Blackmon to dethrone as a slot CB, and because of his ample college resume — he played a lot at USC and Colorado — his game-readiness could be paramount to start Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Ask yourself this — if Blackmon isn’t on deck for Minnesota’s slot CB duties, who is?

Blackmon recently said about his early dealings with the team, “I would say I got acclimated real quick. Just overstudying, working with [coach Daronte Jones] and them, I feel like they got me ready already.”

3. Jaquelin Roy (DT)

Jan 2, 2020; Orlando, Florida, USA; Team Pressure defensive line Jaquelin Roy (99) celebrates after making a tackle against Team Savage during the second half at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports.

Must Oust on Depth Chart:
Khyiris Tonga

Perhaps the least likely on the list to start right away, Roy did receive snaps with first-teamers at minicamp, a weird development because Roy is a 5th-Round draft pick. Men from Round 5 don’t usually scale depth charts right away. They’re developmental.

However, after Dalvin Tomlinson departed for the Cleveland Browns in March, Minnesota has a gaping hole on its defensive line. Most believe Khyiris Tonga will win Tomlinson’s job this summer, as his out-of-nowhere performance in 2022 deserves a sequel.

There’s a chance, though, that Roy steals Tonga’s job, especially if the Vikings consider him an unearthed gem from the draft. And if not, why the hell was he playing with defensive first-teamers in early June?

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.