3 Rookies for Vikings Trending toward Major Playing Time

Second Straight
Aug 3, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell throws a pass during training camp at TCO Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Oddsmakers predict the Minnesota Vikings to win eight or nine games in 2023 and finish in second p[ace behind the Detroit Lions in the NFC North.

We shall see if that forecast is legitimate beginning in 35 days when the regular season kicks off.

3 Rookies for Vikings Trending toward Major Playing Time

And en route to defending the division, the Vikings will expect contributions from a handful of rookies. Through two weeks of training camp, these are those three men per early projections — listed alphabetically.

1. Jordan Addison (WR)

3 Rookies for Vikings
Aug 5, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) takes the field during training camp at Twin Cities Orthopedic Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Jordan Addison has more than ‘looked the part’ at Vikings training camp, erasing the recent memory of his off-the-field reckless driving charge somewhat seamlessly. He also apologized and sounded sincere, so that assuredly helps.

The Vikings found Addison in Round 1 of April’s draft, meaning he will receive a hefty sample of playing time before too long. And based on training camp dealings, the man looks ready right away. K.J. Osborn stands in his way, however, so all eyes will turn to Minnesota’s depth chart when that is released later this month.

No matter what, though, barring injury, Addison will receive targets in the Vikings 2023 offense.

2. Mekhi Blackmon (CB)

Unsung Move of the
Nov 5, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; USC Trojans defensive back Mekhi Blackmon (6) and linebacker Raesjon Davis (9) celebrate during the second half against the California Golden Bears at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Blackmon has two things up his sleeve:

  1. The Vikings cornerback depth chart is largely unproven and not stuffed to the gills with ‘big names’ to dethrone.
  2. He’s playing wonderfully at training camp.

Because Minnesota no longer employs Patrick Peterson, Duke Shelley, Cameron Dantzler, Chandon Sullivan, or Kris Boyd, 2022 defenders are ‘out of the way’ for men like Blackmon to receive meaningful playing time in 2023.

Blackmon could be a starter as early as Week 1, depending on the outcome of the three preseason games.

The USC alumnus also played a lot of college football and is 24 years old, two assets when considering his 2023 projection.

3. Ivan Pace Jr. (LB)

Cincinnati Bearcats linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. (0) jogs back to the locker room after pregame ceremonies recognizing seniors on the roster before the first quarter during a college football game against the Tulane Green Wave, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. © Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Probably the top dog for mythological Mr. Mankato voting, Pace Jr. has completely stolen defensive headlines at Vikings training camp. During the first week, he ran with second-teamers. In the last few days, Pace Jr. has scratched his way up with the starters.

This man predicted the NFL messed up — he used different and more colorful words on Instagram — by not drafting him in April, and he’s proving why before the regular season even begins.

Thankfully for his sake, Minnesota doesn’t employ star-studded linebackers — Eric Kendricks now plays for the Los Angeles Chargers — so there’s a path for Pace Jr. to spring up and grab regular season defensive snaps as early as September.

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.