The Vikings Top 10 Players Heading into 2023
The 2023 Minnesota Vikings have spacious shoes to fill, coming off an unforeseen 13-4 record in 2022, Kevin O’Connell’s first season as head coach.
Oddsmakers slate Minnesota to win about eight or nine games this season.
The Vikings Top 10 Players Heading into 2023
And to ensure it’s not just eight or nine wins, the Vikings will need significant input from their top players. Without further ado, these are the Top 10 Vikings heading into 2023 ranked in ascending order (No. 1 = best player).
10. Marcus Davenport (OLB)
Davenport took heat in 2022 for registering just 0.5 sacks. And make no mistake, that is a terrible mark for a starting EDGE rusher.
But his Pro Football Focus resume is unmistakably good — probably why he now plays for the Vikings in Za’Darius Smith’s stead:
- 2018 = 71.8
- 2019 = 84.1
- 2020 = 73.3
- 2021 = 88.8
- 2022 = 76.8
9. Byron Murphy (CB)
The addition of Murphy was an offseason saver for the Vikings after cornerbacks Patrick Peterson, Duke Shelley, Cameron Dantzler, Chandon Sullivan, and Kris Boyd bolted for new teams. Murphy will get the nod as the unabashed CB1 for the Vikings, a role he’ll relish.
At age 25, Murphy’s best years are in front of him — while playing for the Vikings.
8. Harrison Phillips (DT)
Horrible Harry is a tyrant for opposing offensive lines. He equitably stuffs the run and rushes the passer, tallying a 72.0 PFF grade during his first season as a Viking.
Also a locker room leader, Phillips should only improve in Year Two in purple. He tabulated 59 tackles and 3 QB hits last year.
7. Harrison Smith (SS)
CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco surprisingly nominated Smith as a Top 100 player heading into 2023 last week (No. 97), “The Vikings miscast him last season, playing him mostly in the deep middle, but he should be rejuvenated in the new defense under Brian Flores.”
We don’t disagree.
6. Kirk Cousins (QB)
This divisive creature is actually one of the most consistent and healthy quarterbacks in the sport. He never gets hurt and delivers 4,000+ passing yards and 30+ touchdowns like the sun rises.
Of course, Cousins’ paycheck always dominates the dialogue surrounding his employment with the Vikings, but as of early July 2023, he’s the NFL’s 13th highest-paid quarterback per average annual value.
Most reasonable folks would assert Cousins is at least the 13th-best passer in the league. We should retire gullible talking points suggesting Cousins is overpaid.
5. Brian O’Neill (RT)
The strong silent type, O’Neill is consistent like Cousins. He doesn’t really have bad games — Cousins does have those — and has manned RT duties for the Vikings since 2018.
O’Neill gained his first Pro Bowl nod in 2021 and probably should’ve received a second last year. He injured his Achilles down the stretch of 2022 and hopes to fully bounce back this September.
4. T.J. Hockenson (TE)
It took about five minutes for Hockenson to enhance and transform the Vikings 2022 offense after arriving in Minnesota via trade. Folks wondered, après about three games, “What did we ever do without this guy?”
Hockenson tabulated more catches than any tight end in NFL history in his first 10 games with a new team. He was that impactful.
Now — imagine his productivity with a full offseason and regular season in Minnesota.
3. Danielle Hunter (OLB)
Folks are anxietal about Hunter’s future with the team for good reason. He wants a new contract, and if the Vikings aren’t in the mood, he could be traded this summer. Yes, they’d be selling a Top 3 team asset if so.
Still, Hunter is one of the NFL’s top EDGE rushers, redefining his skilset inside a 3-4 defense for the first time last year. It took a few weeks for Hunter to find his 3-4 footing, but thereafter, he thrived.
His presence or lack thereof on the Week 1 depth chart could determine if the Vikings are Super Bowl contenders — or just a run-of-the-mill 8-9 group.
2. Christian Darrisaw (LT)
Last summer, folks began hinting that Darrisaw ‘looked like Trent Williams’ at Vikings training camp. The opinion fell out of the sky, immediately setting vast expectations for the second-year lineman.
Then, Darrisaw delivered.
He was PFF’s second-best offensive tackle last season behind — you guessed it — Trent Williams. Somehow, Minnesota has finally nailed down the LT spot for the first time since Bryant McKinnie, who last played for the Vikings in 2010.
1. Justin Jefferson (WR)
This doesn’t need any caption or explanation, but we’d appear lazy if the space were blank.
Jefferson is the NFL’s current Offensive Player of the Year and will soon become football’s richest non-quarterback ever. He’s the standard bearer at WR right now, and Jefferson recently turned 24.
He hasn’t entered his prime. That should make 31 teams utterly shudder.
Like last year, Jefferson will chase the NFL’s first-ever 2,000-yard receiving season, barring injury. He’s that damn good.
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).