Pair of Vikings Featured in CBS Sports All-Rookie Team

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With an aging roster, the Vikings certainly needed to hit on some rookies, which they clearly hadn’t done enough in the last few years. But that wasn’t easy last year, as the valuable second-round selection was sent to Detroit as part of the T.J. Hockenson trade. Still, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah did a decent job in his second draft in charge.

Pair of Vikings Featured in CBS Sports All-Rookie Team

Rumors were swirling that the GM might trade up to draft a quarterback, but with three passers flying off the board within the first four picks, they were simply out of reach. Adofo-Mensah had some other needs to fill.

Pair of Vikings Featured in CBS Sports All-Rookie Team
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With Adam Thielen’s release, the Vikings had to find a new second-fiddle next to Justin Jefferson, who can feast when the star is double covered. Head coach Kevin O’Connell made his wish known, and Adofo-Mensah fulfilled it collaboratively: Jordan Addison, a wideout out of USC, moved to Minnesota.

After a controversial start to his Vikings career off the field, Addison hit the ground running on it, recording big numbers early. Addison produced 70 catches for 911 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns throughout his rookie campaign.

Those numbers helped him to make the All-Rookie team from CBS Sports‘ Chris Trapasso.

Addison was the consummate No. 2 wideout to Justin Jefferson as a rookie — and stood in as the Vikings No. 1 wideout during Jetta’s prolong injury absence. Of course, there were some lulls, yet the Vikings were forced to play musical chairs at quarterback like a few other clubs. The short and light wideout performed as polished as advertised and nearly had 10 touchdown snags! Small receivers can ball! Right away. Remember, Addison was a shade over 5-11 and just 173 pounds at the combine. And he rocked as a rookie. 

Chris Trapasso

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) catches a touchdown pass to take the lead late in the fourth quarter of the NFL Week 15 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Minnesota Vikings at PayCor Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. The Bengals won on an overtime field goal.

The size concerns were real, but so was his college production in two different offenses, and he continued to play well in another offense, instantly clicking with Kirk Cousins. However, when Joshua Dobbs took over, there were some struggles because of the passer’s inability to feed his playmakers, but with Nick Mullens taking over the QB1 role, he returned to the endzone.

Even when Jefferson missed time, Addison was ready for a larger role. He is incredibly mature on the field, a savvy route runner who can create separation, and has excellent hands. A problem for him remains facing physical cornerback play, but it was encouraging that he battled through it and improved in that regard.

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With hopefully some more stability in the upcoming season, the sky is the limit for Addison, who will benefit from more experience. The second rookie representing Minnesota’s youth movement is linebacker Ivan Pace, who had a wonderful season and was undoubtedly the top rookie at his position.

From undrafted to training camp folk hero to serious thumper and coverage linebacker for the Vikings — the story of Pace Jr.’s rookie season. He finished with 97 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 15 pressures, and an interception on under 65% of Minnesota’s defensive snaps. And this dude is not even 5-foot-11! Playing linebacker in the NFL. Awesome. Pace is a hair-on-fire second-level defender who does it all. And those 15 pressures came on just 106 pass-rush opportunities. 

Chris Trapasso

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports.

Pace was expected to compete for the roster as the NFL community was collectively shaking its head when he went undrafted–a unanimous All-American with gaudy numbers in college at Cincinnati. A perfect fit for Brian Flores’ aggressive mind and his defense, Pace not only made the roster, but he claimed a large role, turning sophomore Brian Asamoah into an afterthought.

He has proven able to cover, rush the passer, and stop the run. That combined with the football IQ that he showed when he had the green dot and called the plays on defense during Jordan Hicks’ absence. With all that at his disposal. he might even have a more prominent role in his second season with the Vikings. He is one of the reasons for optimism on that side of the ball.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt