The 5 Most Underrated Players on Vikings Current Roster

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports.

Last week,’s Cynthia Frelund nominated Kirk Cousins as the Minnesota Vikings ‘most underappreciated player.’ She named one man from each NFL team, and Cousins was the guy in purple and gold.

The 5 Most Underrated Players on Vikings Current Roster

“Given the constant narrative that surrounds this quarterback — and the fact that the Vikings are allowing him to play out the last year of his contract in 2023 — he just fits this ‘underappreciated’ mold so well,” she wrote.

Cousins is a divisive creature indeed, so the Frelund tidbit is noteworthy.

She concluded, “Can you expect Cousins to match those robust figures [from 2022] in game-winning drives and fourth-quarter comebacks? No. Those were legitimately historic marks. But give credit where credit is due. The No. 102 pick from the 2012 NFL Draft has put together quite a career.”

Now, it’s our turn. Here’s our take on the Vikings most underrated or underappreciated players, ranked in ascending order (No. 1 = most underrated).

5. 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.

Some Vikings faithful came unglued when Olvier was the first major free-agent addition in March. Why? Well, most believed the club was set at tight end, ready to experience Year Two of T.J. Hockenson while plopping Johnny Mundt or Nick Muse at TE2.

The Vikings, though, had different plans, inking Oliver, a run-blocking tight end, with hopes of improving the franchise’s poor 2022 rushing performance. And don’t look now, but in Lamar Jackson’s offense last year, Oliver fired up a bodacious 71.5 Pro Football Focus grade.

Folks are blah on Oliver right now, but when Minnesota’s running game improves this September, be sure to abjure those mean tweets about Oliver + the Vikings.

4. Ezra Cleveland (LG)

7 Wild and Crazy
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

From the time Kirk Cousins joined the Vikings until, well, last year, Minnesota’s offensive guard play was like a comedy skit. Then Cleveland arrived from the 2020 NFL Draft and stabilized the LG spot.

You should do cartwheels to celebrate the Vikings discovery of a competent guard.

Cleveland recorded a 73.5 PFF grade in 2022, a mark that should generate praise. His only downfall is familiar — he plows lanes for running backs better than he does protecting quarterbacks. Still, he’s a productive guard on a team starved for productive guards in the last few years.

3. Khyiris Tonga (DT)

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Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Some in-the-weeds NFL analysts don’t even know who this guy is.

Tonga ranked in the Top 15 last year among PFF‘s best interior defensive linemen. Minnesota must’ve recognized it and bought in because it made no real free-agent move to replace Dalvin Tomlinson, who jettisoned for the Cleveland Browns in March — besides re-signing Tonga.

When he joined the Vikings last October, this 27-year-old felt like a practice-squad addition. But he turned out to be just as productive as Duke Shelley. Defensive tackles just don’t usually grab the headlines in a pass-happy NFL like cornerbacks.

Tonga must prove his 2022 breakout with a sound 2023 sequel, but because the national NFL body politic isn’t privy to his resume, he’s underrated. That — and he makes $940,000 per year.

2. Kirk Cousins (QB)

3 Takeaways from Vikings
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The year is 2026. Vikings QB1 Jaren Hall throws for 4,100 passing yards and 31 touchdowns. Fans debate whether or not that’s good or if Hall is a ‘winner.’

Does that sound insane? That’s precisely what we do with Kirk Cousins every year. Hell, we do it every day on social media platforms.

Cousins has always had a weird connotation with his name. When he does something righteous, it’s because the team around him is responsible. But when his team gets beaten in the postseason, he should’ve done more, like heave the ball up to Justin Jefferson on 4th Down.

Consider this: Cousins and the Vikings finished 13-4 in 2022. Suddenly, they became a ‘fraud’ during the push to win the NFC North, and folks deviated away from ‘QB Record’ as a worthwhile stat if it was Cousins‘ team at 13-4. Quarterback wins and losses lost legitimacy as the Vikings were called ‘lucky.’

That can only happen to Kirk Cousins.

1. Josh Metellus (S)

Underrated Players on
Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings have a lot of safeties on the current roster. From Harrison Smith to Lewis Cine to Camryn Bynum, Metellus gets unfairly lost in the plethora.

Experience some Metellus numbers from 2022:

  • 85.1 PFF grade (not a typo)
  • 80.7 Pass-Coverage PFF Grade
  • 83.9 Passer-Rating-Against
  • 258 Defensive Snaps
  • 381 Special Teams Snaps

Metellus failed to qualify for PFF‘s minimum snap count by a whisker, but if he did, he would’ve been the third-best safety in pro football (!!!).

There’s a universe not too far off where Metellus deserves a starter’s job.

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