Dark Horse Vikings That Could Snag a Roster Spot in 2023: Offense

Quarterback Cephus Johnson throws a pass as the Louisiana’s Ragin Cajuns take on Southeastern Louisiana Football at Cajun Field. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. Cajuns Vs Southeastern Football 7002

Rookies report to Vikings training camp just days from now. As the first official practice of camp continues to inch closer, we are going to take a peek at some of the dark horse Vikings that could find their way onto the 53-man roster. This time around, we are sticking with the offense,

WR Malik Knowles

Kansas State senior wide receiver Malik Knowles (4) celebrates a touchdown over Kansas during the first quarter of Saturday’s Sunflower Showdown at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Admittedly, wide receiver is probably the deepest position on the Vikings roster heading into the 2023 season. As a result, it’s going to be difficult for an UDFA to crack into the final 53-man roster. However, while Malik Knowles had limited receiving production over the course of his career (catching a total of 127 receptions for 1867 yards and 14 TDs over five years at Kansas State), he brings a very intriguing combination of size and athleticism that could make him a playmaker in Kevin O’Connell’s offense.

The receiver had 36 carries for 440 yards and 4 TDs over his collegiate career, making him a threat in the backfield, and he is an explosive playmaker as a return man. Knowles returned 61 kicks for 1691 yards (27.7 yards per return average), and he brought three kicks all the way back for touchdowns. Keep an eye on the “do-it-all” receiver this summer.

WR Cephus Johnson III

Quarterback Cephus Johnson throws a pass as the Louisiana’s Ragin Cajuns take on Southeastern Louisiana Football at Cajun Field. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. Cajuns Vs Southeastern Football 7002

Cephus Johnson is an interesting player to place with this Vikings roster, considering he played the majority of his collegiate snaps at quarterback, and now, he is listed as a wide receiver for Minnesota. It’s an interesting fit, especially considering the Vikings are rather deep at both the QB and WR positions right now, but the unknown of what he could be at the NFL level may actually help him.

The best-case scenario for Johnson could be that Minnesota sees him as a Taysom Hill-esque player who can do a little bit of everything for the team. It’s not necessarily a crazy comparison, either. Hill stands at 6’2 and 221 pounds while Johnson is 6’5 and 225 pounds. The Vikings clearly see something in him as an athlete, and the intrigue alone lands him on this list.

TE Nick Muse

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Muse was the only Vikings draft pick from the 2022 class that didn’t make the initial 53-man roster, but after Irv Smith’s ankle injury, Muse was able to get onto the field in nine of Minnesota’s final 10 regular season games. He did not play with the offense at all last season, but he saw 108 snaps with the special teams.

T.J. Hockenson and Josh Oliver will man the TE1/2 spots this season, and Johnny Mundt should be considered the favorite for TE3. However, if Kevin O’Connell is going to continue trending towards running a Kyle Shanahan-esque offense, we could see Minnesota using more two-tight end sets this season. If that’s the case, there is a reason to keep four tight ends on the roster at all times, and Muse would be the favorite to make the cut.

OT Sam Schlueter

Dark Horse Vikings
Minnesota offensive lineman Sam Schlueter (70) blocks Purdue defensive end DaMarcus Mitchell (15) during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021 at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind. Cfb Purdue Vs Minnesota

The Minnesota Vikings offensive line was worn down to the very end of its depth during 2022 with all of Garrett Bradbury, Blake Brandel, Christian Darrisaw, Brian O’Neill, and Austin Schlottmann missing time due to injury at some point in the season. Perhaps the front office and coaching staff want to avoid a similar situation in 2023 by keeping around a couple extra o-linemen when the season begins.

Sam Schlueter was signed as an undrafted free agent by the San Francisco 49ers last spring after playing his collegiate ball at the University of Minnesota. However, he did not make the roster and played zero snaps during his rookie season. That being said, he is a burly tackle with a nose for run-blocking. Assuming the Vikings put more of an emphasis on the running game in 2023, Schlueter could be a guy to stick around.

NOTE: This article originally appeared on our sister-site, PurplePTSD.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.