These Are the Vikings 8 New Starters — For Now
The Minnesota Vikings still have a full NFL draft, minicamp, training camp, and preseason before the 2023 regular season, but the depth chart is piecing together.
The roster will look markedly different in spots after the departures of Cameron Dantzler (CB, Commanders), Eric Kendricks (LB, Chargers), Patrick Peterson (CB, Steelers), Adam Thielen (WR, Panthers), Dalvin Tomlinson (DT, Browns), Duke Shelley (CB, Raiders), and Irv Smith (TE, Bengals).
These Are the Vikings 8 New Starters — For Now
While there are still five months before Week 1 kicks off, these are the eight [tentative] new starters.
Note: Alexander Mattison is possibly on deck to start, but Dalvin Cook remains on the roster, so Mattison was omitted.
1. Brian Asamoah (LB)
Goodbye, Eric Kendricks. Hello, Brian Asamoah.
In a relatively small sample size last year, Asamoah totally shined via playmaking, speed, and forcing turnovers. The man is a product of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s (in)famous trade back in Round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft, but Asamoah might just become a crowning jewel of the trade.
He’ll be right in the middle of the Vikings defense this September for the first defensive possession.
2. Andrew Booth (CB)
If the Vikings regular season started today, Booth would have to start. The depth is so skimpy at cornerback that Booth would be “the guy” by default.
Minnesota may draft a Deonte Banks (Maryland) or Devon Witherspoon (Illinois) type in Round 1 at the end of the month, but if they do not, Booth is on deck to start. And if he doesn’t pan out in the preseason, his buddy Akayleb Evans will become the new starter.
3. Lewis Cine (S)
Cine broke his leg in London last October, putting a sad bow on his rookie campaign. But that doesn’t mean he’s a lost cause.
New defensive coordinator Brian Flores will love Cine’s athleticism, and because he was drafted in Round 1 last year, he basically has to start before too long. His only hurdle this summer is injury recovery, but the Vikings have claimed for months that Cine is well on his way back to the field.
Cine should take Camryn Bynum’s job.
4. Marcus Davenport (OLB)
Za’Darius Smith could renege on his goodbye tweet to fans, but then why did the Vikings spend $13 million on the free-agent market’s best EDGE rusher? Davenport has a 1st-Round pedigree and signed with the Vikings to make an impact. That ain’t gonna be on the bench.
The Vikings outside linebackers this autumn should be Danielle Hunter and Davenport, and we shall see what happens with Smith — probably a draft night trade.
5. Dean Lowry (DT)
The Packers drafted Lowry in 2016, and he would start 80 games for the Velveeta-laden franchise. The man is a starter and wasn’t signed by the Vikings merely to compete for a job this summer.
Theoretically, the Vikings could draft Jalen Carter (Georgia), Bryan Bresee (Clemson), or Calijah Kancey (Pittsburgh), blowing the Lowry-starter plan to ashes, but on the whole, that’s unlikely.
Lowry must top Jonathan Bullard for a starting job — not too daunting.
6. Byron Murphy (CB)
Murphy is arguably the “surest thing” on this list to start. After him on the CB depth chart, it’s Andrew Booth, Akayleb Evans, Tay Gowan, and Kalon Barnes. The group is deprived of bonafide starters, so Murphy feels like a Godsend at the moment.
With bright flashing lights, you should realize Murphy is a Vikings starter in 2023.
7. K.J. Osborn (WR)
Minnesota might have draft eyes on Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State), Quentin Johnston (TCU), Zay Flowers (Boston College), and Jordan Addison (USC). But if it does not, Osborn would be penciled in as the Vikings WR2 for 2023.
Adam Thielen skedaddled to the Carolina Panthers and isn’t returning anytime soon. On the depth chart right now, it’s Osborn at WR2, with a to be continued in the draft about the Vikings WR plans.
8. Khyiris Tonga (DT)
Tonga absolutely thrived in 2022. His pal Dalvin Tomlinson netted a fat contract with the Cleveland Browns, earning about $13 million more dollars annually than Tonga.
The Vikings need a big body in the middle of the defensive trenches, and Tonga seems to be on the agenda for nose-tackles duties. His resume isn’t robust, but Adofo-Mensah probably would’ve signed another NT if Tonga wasn’t up for a starting assignment.
Tonga will look to replicate his 2022 performance when he ranked as Pro Football Focus‘ 13th-best interior defensive lineman in the sport.
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,’ and The Doors (the band).
All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.
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