ESPN Displeased with Vikings’ Young Guns

Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Dallas Turner at the first day of rookie minicamp on May 10th, 2024, in Eagan, Minnesota. TCO Performance Center. Turner was drafted by the Vikings with the 17th overall pick on April 25th, 2024 in Detroit.

Think the Minnesota Vikings are trending upward with a youth movement? ESPN disagrees.

ESPN Displeased with Vikings’ Young Guns

The sports media giant ranked each NFL team this week by its players under the age of 25, and according to Aaron Schatz, Minnesota has the league’s ninth-worst young core.

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Of course, the ranking can skyrocket by this time next year, depending on the development of quarterback J.J. McCarthy and outside linebacker Dallas Turner, the Vikings’ two 1st-Round draft picks from April. But for now, it’s a 24th ranking, says ESPN.

Schatz explained, “The 22-year-old Addison had a great rookie year with 911 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. McCarthy, the franchise quarterback in waiting, will likely play during his rookie year. So will edge rusher Dallas Turner, also chosen in the first round.”

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports.

Most Vikings fans are actually excited about the youth movement, so a poor rating might raise some eyebrows.

“The only other player who qualifies for this list and started more than one game for last year’s Vikings is linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. He was a surprise undrafted star with 2.5 sacks, one interception and 102 tackles,” Schatz concluded.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports.

Why are the Vikings ranked so low? Well, the culprit is probably pretty familiar. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s first class has not blossomed as expected two years ago. In fact, the 2022 draft class is a frequent scourge among fans discussing the state of the Vikings. For context, this was the 2022 class:

  • R1: Lewis Cine, S (Georgia)
  • R2: Andrew Booth Jr., CB (Clemson)
  • R2: Ed Ingram, G (LSU)
  • R3: Brian Asamoah, LB (Oklahoma)
  • R4: Akayleb Evans, CB (Missouri)
  • R5: Esezi Otomewo, DE (Minnesota)
  • R5: Ty Chandler, RB (North Carolina)
  • R6: Vederian Lowe, OT (Illinois)
  • R6: Jalen Nailor, WR (Michigan State)
  • R7: Nick Muse, TE (South Carolina)

For a team to score highly on the ESPN list, a draft class from 2022 presumably had to produce multiple starters and Pro Bowlers or fringe Pro Bowlers. So far, Ingram, Evans, and Chandler are the only notable contributors for the Vikings, with verdicts still out on Cine, Booth, Asamoah, Nailor, and Muse. Otomewo and Lowe no longer play for the team.

It’s also worth noting that other star Vikings, like Justin Jefferson and Christian Darrisaw, narrowly missed ESPN’s age cut-off.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

At the top of the ESPN list, the Houston Texans, Detroit Lions, and Baltimore Ravens cleaned house at one, two, and three, respectively, while the New Orleans Saints, Las Vegas Raiders, and Miami Dolphins landed in the basement. Schatz even claimed the Saints and Dolphins had zero blue chip players under the age of 25.

To fix Minnesota’s standing, the 2024 draft class must live up to expectations — and probably shatter them.

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 MIN 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