What the Future Holds for Vikings 2022 Draft Class

It's Officially Brian Asamoah Time
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The 2022 draft was the first of Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s tenure. Two years on, it is appropriate to take a close look at that draft and what the future holds for the Vikings 2022 draft class.

What the Future Holds for Vikings 2022 Draft Class

The draft class is unlikely ever to be looked upon fondly, with only one certain to have a starting role in 2024. It’s a draft that Adofo-Mensah would probably like to have back with the power of hindsight and two years of GM experience behind him.

The question marks started with the decision to trade back from pick 12 (plus the 46th overall pick) for the 32nd, 34th, and 66th overall picks with division to rival the Detroit Lions. Many didn’t like the trade value and liked making the trade within the division even less.

The Vikings GM was at it again, trading the 34th overall pick to rival outfit the Green Bay Packers for the 53rd and 59th overall picks, and the trading carried on throughout the draft. Minnesota drafted 10 players, it’s time to see where they are now, and what to expect from them in 2024 and beyond.

Round 1: Pick 32 – Lewis Cine (Safety)

2022 Draft
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Vikings fans tend to point at Kyle Hamilton as the one who got away with the first-team All-Pro safety on the board when the Vikings were scheduled to pick at 12. Hamilton would be a welcome presence on any team, but with the emergence of Camryn Bynum and Josh Metellus, bolstering the defensive line with Jordan Davis, who was selected at pick 13 by the Philadelphia Eagles, would have been ideal.

The reason we are talking about other players here is because Lewis Cine has rarely seen the field, with just 10 snaps on defense over his first season. Cine was behind Bynum as his rookie season started and then suffered a horror injury in Week 4 — a compound fracture to his left leg required two surgeries. The idea that he would be immediately ready to explode on the scene in Year 2 always seemed far-fetched. This is a major injury Cine has had to recover from, and the 2024 season always seemed to be the more likely chance for Cine to finally come good.

Verdict: The Vikings also have Theo Jackson and Jay Ward on the roster, and the expectation is that only five of the six safeties make the final 53-man roster. Cine has a battle ahead to stay in Minnesota, but I predict he will avoid the roster cut and keep his place on the roster. However, he must prove the injury is behind him and make significant strides this year.

Round 2: Pick 42 – Andrew Booth Jr (Cornerback)

The Vikings currently employ 10 CBs and will probably whittle that number down to five when they announce their final roster. Byron Murphy, Mekhi Blackmon, and rookie Khyree Jackson will be on the roster. That leaves two spaces for the remaining seven players to fight over. Andrew Booth Jr. is a player who once had a high first-round projection. The reason for the slide was a patchy injury history that continued into the pro ranks.

Booth had surgery on his hernia during the offseason going into his rookie year and then suffered a meniscus tear in his knee that ended his season. There was better news on the injury front in Booth’s second year as he kept a clean bill of health and featured in all 17 of Minnesota’s games. Playing time on the defense varied throughout the season, as did his performance on the field, but his 68.8 overall grade from PFF is reasonable and was second only to Blackmon.

Verdict: The Vikings would hope a second-round pick would cement Booth’s starting place by this point, but Booth will cling on to his place as a depth piece for at least one more season.

Round 2: Pick 59 – Ed Ingram (Guard)

Ingram Starting
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Ed Ingram took the right guard spot as a rookie and looks set to continue in the role. Ingram endured a rough rookie season, allowing 11 sacks with a pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus, which was a dismal 44.4. Ingram showed signs of improvement in Year 2, with his pass-blocking grade rising to 60.9 and allowing five sacks. There were some good games in his sophomore season, but there were still some really bad ones.

Verdict: Consistency will be the key to Ingram’s future in purple. If he can improve further and prove himself to be a solid player, he has a good chance of at least seeing out his rookie contract in Minnesota. If not, his position on the roster will likely be in much more jeopardy this time next year.

Round 3: Pick 66 – Brian Asamoah (Linebacker)

Brian Asamoah’s rookie season showed promise but was a backward step in Year 2. The early expectations were for Asamoah to replace the departed Eric Kendricks and become the Viking’s long-term solution at Linebacker. Instead, undrafted rookie Ivan Pace Jr. stepped up and grabbed that opportunity. Hampered by knee, ankle, and toe injuries throughout the season, it was a desperately disappointing season for Asamoah, who saw his playing time significantly decrease rather than expand.

Verdict: After Pace and new signing Blake Cashman, Asamoah should be next in line, but he needs to stay healthy and make the most of any chances that come his way.

Round 4: Pick 118 – Akayleb Evans (Cornerback)

Akayleb Evans was the early surprise in this draft class, immediately surpassing Booth on the depth chart and then being named the starting CB last season. The question is whether he did enough last term to keep hold of that starting role. I’m not sure that he did, and bringing in a starting CB would have been a good move this offseason. The Vikings haven’t done that, which leaves Evans competing with Booth, Blackmon, Jackson, and Shaq Griffin for a starting spot.

Verdict: I don’t believe there is a clear standout to start on the perimeter opposite Murphy. Performances during training camp and the preseason will determine who wins the spot. I favor Blackmon winning the role, which would leave Evans going back into the rotation.

Round 5: Pick 165 – Esezi Otomewo (Defensive Line)

Esezi Otomewo went from being a Minnesota Golden Gopher to a Minnesota Viking. His five-year college career in Minnesota was not matched in the pro ranks, where he was one and done—waived after one season as a Viking, having played in five games. He was picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars and signed to the practice squad. Otomewo remains in Florida on a reserve/future contract.

Verdict: Cutting ties with a fifth-round draft pick after just one season is a disappointing outcome, especially when it’s an area where the Vikings roster remains weak. However, there have been no signs from Jacksonville that the Vikings made a mistake.

Round 5: Pick 169 – Ty Chandler (Running Back)

Deep at One Specific
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After just six rushing attempts in his rookie season, the 2023 season gave Ty Chandler the chance to shine. Taking over the starting RB role for the final four games of the season put him in pole position to continue in that role until Aaron Jones was signed. Jones is now 29 and has a history of missing games through injury, so Chandler should still see plenty of opportunity even if he is demoted back to RB2.

Verdict: Chandler had 102 carries for 461 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2023. adding 21 catches for 159 yards. He should equal that production at a minimum this season, and I expect him to exceed those numbers in all categories.

Round 6: Pick 184 – Vederian Lowe (Offensive Tackle)

Vederian Lowe was a late-round swing at some depth at tackle. He played four games during his rookie season as a swing tackle. Minnesota let him go after one season, and Lowe wound up in New England, signing for the Patriots. He played in 11 games, including 8 starts, for the Patriots in 2023, splitting his time almost equally between left and right tackle. 

Verdict: Lowe allowed six sacks and scored a miserable 41.7 grade from PFF. His best-case scenario will continue to be that of a depth player. The Vikings were right to let him go.

Round 6: Pick 191 – Jalen Nailor (Wide Receiver)

Jalen Nailor is a speedy receiver option who drew some enthusiasm at the back end of his rookie season. An injury-plagued 2023 saw Nailor’s contribution become threadbare. With the WR3 position wide open for the taking, can he stay healthy and take it? The competition is between himself and Brandon Powell unless Minnesota adds someone else into the mix.

Verdict: Nailor will make the roster, and while Powell probably starts the season as the WR3, I think Nailor can take the position from him. As a sixth-round pick, doing so would make him one of the clear success stories from this draft.

Round 7: Pick 227 – Nick Muse (Tight End)

Nick Muse was a fairly regular contributor on special teams during his rookie season but never made the field on offense. He was waived and on the practice squad more than once and was inactive on matchday throughout his second season, up until Week 17, when the injury to TJ Hockenson created a space for him. He caught a pass on his first and so far only target of his career for a 22-yard completion.

Verdict: Hockenson may miss the start of the season, which allows Muse to push for some playing time early in the season.