One Surprising Vikings Stud + One Disappointing Dud in 2023

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With the season now in the home stretch, the PurpleTerritory staff is coming up with one surprising stud and one disappointing dud for the 2023 season. After a disappointing 1-4 start, Minnesota has rattled off five wins in their last six contests. That puts them in the thick of the NFC playoff race with seven weeks to go.

One Surprising Vikings Stud + One Disappointing Dud in 2023

Counting around the staff, four writers decided to research one surprising stud for this season and one who could be considered a disappointing dud for the Minnesota Vikings.

VikingsTerritory‘s Dustin Baker did his own poll for some unsung heroes for the season on the site, which is available here.

I know, what’s a Browns fan doing writing for the Vikings? Well, Minnesota, you have grown on me. Here’s who the staff chose for our one surprising stud and one disappointing dud.

Dustin Baker

Dustin’s One Surprising Stud: Mekhi Blackmon (Cornerback)

Surprising Vikings Stud
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Cornerback Mekhi Blackmon has surprised the most through 11 games, tallying a 74.0 Pro Football Focus grade in his rookie season. That ranks third among all rookie corners, and Blackmon was the 12th CB off the board six months ago.

The Vikings desperately needed another corner to flourish, especially because Byron Murphy isn’t performing like a Pro Bowler. Blackmon has become that guy, and when we get to the offseason, he can reasonably be penciled in as a 2024 starter if needed.

Dustin’s One Disappointing Dud: Byron Murphy (Cornerback)

Murphy has performed okay, but he was signed to nail down the team’s CB room. So far, he’s just a decent cornerback. Thankfully, Blackmon and teammate Akayleb Evans have emerged to mask some of Murphy’s deficiencies in the secondary.

To be clear, Murphy doesn’t stink or anything of the sort. Vikings fans just expected a little bit more.

Kyle Joudry

Kyle’s One Surprising Stud (Plus One): Mekhi Blackmon (Cornerback) + D.J. Wonnum (Linebacker)

This post is from Baker’s original article:

“It’s easy to overlook since he was chosen with the final selection of the 3rd round, is already a bit older, and isn’t exactly the largest CB (no one will mistake him for Xavier Rhodes), but the rookie corner is scrappy and has some sticky coverage. Looks like a nice add.” Kyle also noted that fourth-year linebacker DJ Wonnum has also been disruptive.

Kyle’s One Disappointing Dud: Alexander Mattison (Running Back)

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As Kyle mentioned, “I was (and still am) a believer in him as the lead back, but the production hasn’t quite been there. Hoping for a swift recovery and then for him to start producing at a higher level.”

Well, so it goes. Next up? Our Frey Guy, Josh Frey.

Josh Frey

Josh’s One Surprising Stud: Camryn Bynum (Safety)

Before the season, Josh considered Bynum a potential cut candidate due to his performance in 2022. Perhaps it was for the better that the Vikings didn’t listen to Josh, as Bynum has turned himself into one of the best safeties in the entire league this season and has been a key part of Minnesota’s improved defense.

Josh’s One Disappointing Dud: Alexander Mattison (Running Back)

The Vikings trusted Mattison to be their bell-cow back this season after they re-signed him and dumped Dalvin Cook. This has resulted in the Vikings having one of the worst rushing offenses in the entire league, and their new RB1 is yet to score a rushing touchdown this season. Mattison could still have a role in the Vikings offense, but it’s very apparent that he shouldn’t be the main guy in the backfield.

And now, it’s my turn to close it out.

Nate Powalie

Nate’s One Surprising Stud: Josh Metellus (Safety)

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

One player who has surprised me so far is safety Josh Metellus.

Now, sure, he might not garner as much attention as his fellow safeties in Camryn Bynum and Harrison Smith, but he is quietly putting together a career year in his fourth season. Metellus already has a career-high with 72 tackles through 11 games, a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, four pass deflections, and six tackles for loss. Metellus looks to be one of those under-the-radar stars who has breakout potential written all over him.

Nate’s One Disappointing Dud: K.J. Osborn (Wide Receiver)

This was a really difficult choice. I don’t know, but Osborn just does not seem to be clicking so far this season. What stands out to me the most about that is that he only has a 54.2 PFF grade, which makes him 103rd out of 122 possible wide receivers. He’s caught 33 of 51 targets for 384 yards and a pair of scores, but I really thought Osborn would step up as a true No. 2 receiving option this season.

Well, there is the one surprising stud and the one disappointing dud for the staff.

Round tables are fun articles, and when discussing who has one surprising stud and who has one disappointing dud, there are so many potential options that can make things difficult.

Ah well, such is life as a Minnesota Vikings fan.


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