8 Summer Breakout Players for Vikings

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VikingsTerritory writers were asked to provide one summer breakout player apiece for the 2023 Minnesota Vikings. These are those.

Some players doubled up per writers’ predictions, so consider that player all the more popular.

8 Summer Breakout Players for Vikings

The Vikings put minicamp in the rearview two weeks ago, and training camp kicks off in 4.5 weeks. Here are the VikingsTerritory writers’ summer breakout predictions.

1. Jaquelin Roy (DT)

8 Summer Breakout
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Adam New

The Vikings need someone to step up and dominate at defensive tackle. Khyiris Tonga could be the guy to play next to Harrison Phillips, but it’s Jaquelin Roy, who I have high hopes for.

A 5th-Round rookie out of LSU, Roy has the prototypical frame and athletic upside to be an every-down defensive tackle and be productive against both the run and the pass.

2. Ivan Pace Jr. (LB)

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Prediction Maker =
Dustin Baker

The Vikings linebacking corps is well-known among the team’s fans — Brian Asamoah and Jordan Hicks as the theorized starters.

But that twosome isn’t very scary compared to the rest of the NFL. Minnesota is just waiting for an ‘extra’ linebacker to emerge, and that shall be Pace Jr. this summer. The Cincinnati alumnus was considered one of the top UDFAs right after the draft, and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah pounced.

The guy has a chip on his shoulder the size of a can of Pringles and will show everyone why in July and August.

3. Josh Metellus (S)

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Kyle Joudry

Metellus will continue being a special teams stud and develop a meaningful role on the defense. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah recently gave him a shoutout on Peter Schrager’s podcast as a player who is an unsung “core pillar.”

When I look at Metellus, I see a versatile safety with great compete, physicality, and tackling. Flores is going to figure out how to use this guy effectively.

4. Ed Ingram (OG)

PurplePTSD: Old Viking to Dolphins, Ed Ingram Momentum, MIN-LV Winners and Losers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Janik Eckardt

The offensive guard struggled in his debut season but slowly improved as the season went on. He is in line to make a jump and finally fix the offensive guard spot.

5. Ty Chandler (RB)

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Ted Schwerzler

Ty Chandler ends up being the guy. The Vikings have done a great job having a strong stable of running backs for the past few years, and Chandler will prove that he also fits the mold. Alexander Mattison probably doesn’t get the traditional bellcow reps, and Chandler should have plenty of opportunity to mix in.

6. Josh Oliver (TE)

Vikings TE Josh Oliver on March 16th, 2023, in Eagan, Minnesota. Oliver signed with the Vikings as a free agent from the Baltimore Ravens for three years and $21 million.

Prediction Maker = Josh Frey

T.J. Hockenson is obviously the headliner at tight end for Minnesota, but don’t be surprised if Josh Oliver doubles his career receptions total of 26. Coming into the NFL, he was known as a pass catcher with sub-par blocking ability, but after his time with Baltimore, the assumption has been the opposite.

Watching his San Jose State tape, you’ll see a player with soft receiver’s hands and strong route-running abilities. Kevin O’Connell will get him involved in the offense this year.

7. Patrick Jones II (OLB)

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Prediction Maker = Will Goodwin

With Za’Darius Smith’s departure and Danielle Hunter’s holdout, opportunities abound for the other members of the Vikings’ EDGE Department. D.J. Wonnum was reportedly getting starter reps alongside newcomer Marcus Davenport during minicamp, but keep an eye out for Patrick Jones II this summer.

Now entering his 3rd season, the young pass rusher showed marked improvement both against the pass (including a 2-sack game in Miami) and run. With or without Hunter, someone will need to step up for this defense in Smith’s absence. Look for Jones to be that guy.

t8. Jalen Nailor (WR)

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Ali Siddiqui

The second-year wideout showed some flashes in the final two regular season games of 2022. Granted, one was a blowout loss, and another was a meaningless week 18 game, but he did make some nice plays.

Justin Jefferson, K.J. Osborn, and Jordan Addison no doubt will start as the top 3 WRs, but Nailor has a very good chance at being the No. 4 guy. Maybe what we saw those final two games was a mirage, but perhaps he could very well play a bigger role than most expect.

With Dalvin Cook gone, the Vikings will likely not run as much anymore, which means more passes thrown –some to Nailor.

t8. Jalen Nailor (WR)

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Prediction Maker = Cole Smith

The Vikings player that I’m expecting to see a breakout for this preseason is Jalen Nailor. There was talk last offseason that the 2022 6th-Round pick had a good grasp on the offense, but he still saw little playing time as a rookie. With a full offseason under his belt, he has a chance to take the WR4 spot.

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.