3 Young Vikings Who Could See More Playing Time Soon

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 cornermback from USC drafted by Minnesota in Round 3 of the 2023 NFL Draft.

The Minnesota Vikings have a .500 status at 4-4 through eight weeks, holding a 51.1% probability of reaching the postseason, even after quarterback Kirk Cousins was lost to an Achilles tear for the rest of the year.

3 Young Vikings Who Could See More Playing Time Soon

The Vikings will turn to 2023 5th-Round draft selection Jaren Hall, at least for a game, this weekend as Minnesota travels to Atlanta for a showdown with the 4-4 Falcons.

3 Young Vikings Who
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And with the season nearing the middle, some young players will likely be interwoven on offense and defense.

These are those men, ranked in ascending order of likelihood (No. 1 = most likely to see more snaps).

3. Ty Chandler (RB)

Chart before Final Preseason
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports.

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota’s current RB1, has rushed for 3.7 yards per carry through eight games. That is not profitable for an NFL running back, especially for a starter.

Too, the franchise traded for Cam Akers six weeks ago, and he’s steadily received more touches in the last month. But of all three men — Mattison, Akers, and Chandler — Chandler is the fastest and deserves an extended look in the Vikings offense.

Sooner or later — hopefully sooner because the Vikings run game must improve with a non-Cousins quarterback on the field — the club must limit Mattison’s snaps if he doesn’t rapidly improve.

Chandler should be on the list of reservist options.

2. Jaquelin Roy (DT)

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Dean Lowry is out this weekend at the Falcons, meaning more playing time for someone — probably Roy — is waiting.

Roy, like this week’s starting quarterback for the Vikings, Jaren Hall, was drafted in Round 5 six months ago, and he’s experienced a wee bit of defensive action in eight games. Forty-four snaps, to be precise.

Because Lowry hasn’t set the world on fire with his 48.8 PFF grade, someone is due for more snaps, and that could feasibly be Roy. The rookie has already scored a 71.0 score from PFF.

A summer favorite among Vikings fans, this rookie could start to transition onto the regular season field.

1. Mekhi Blackmon (CB)

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Per PFF, Blackmon is the NFL’s eighth-best cornerback among rookies. He’s notably outshining Deonte Banks and Emmanuel Forbes, two men plucked from the 1st Round.

Meanwhile, Vikings cornerback Byron Murphy hasn’t exactly dazzled, producing a lowly 45.0 PFF mark, or ninth-worst in the sport among all cornerbacks. Defensive coordinator Brian Flores hasn’t been shy about playing young defenders — Ivan Pace can attest — so Blackmon could see more action down the stretch of 2023.

To date, Blackmon has been on the field for 28% of Vikings defensive snaps. Look for that percentage to climb in the next two months.

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.