2022 will be an important season for multiple Vikings. They have to play well to ensure job continuity in Minnesota. First impressions are always essential, and for most players, their 2022 game will make the first impression on the new coaching staff and front office.
Arv Smith Jr.
The second-round pick in the 2019 draft had a tough ending. At first, the move was seen as an immediate replacement for Kyle Rudolph. However, the Vikings raised Rudolph after the draft. For the first two seasons of his career, the former Alabama player was stuck on the depth chart behind the veteran.
He appeared in 29 games these two seasons and started 14 of them. His number of receiving yards was 311 as a rookie and 365 in his second year, combined with seven overall touchdowns. This number was not bad but did not deserve a second round tight finish.
Kyle Rudolph was cut off in the 2021 offseason and Smith was initially considered for a major role in the crime. Even before the season started, it ended for a tough end, as he had to undergo meniscus surgery. He missed the entire season on the reserve due to injury.
At the moment, it still has more potential than production. This is not great for an extremely draft tight finish. If he could get even closer to his potential, he would sign a big extension or draw a franchise tag in the next offseason. If he can’t, he’ll probably be looking for a new team. Health will be a huge factor for Smith in 2022.
Most people say who Kirk’s cousin is. Therefore, it should not be on the list. However, his name is on the list from a different point of view.
Every year the cousins play at almost the same level. For the most part, the top-10 has been playing some bad games for most of the year. This will not be enough in the first season under the new regime. They are not married to cousins and can move forward without looking bad because they did not bring her inside. And that’s why the Cousins have to play well to continue to work as Vikings quarterback.
If he doesn’t play at least like his 2021, he will probably meet his future replacement at the 2023 training camp. In the next draft, it is tempting for a passerby to draft, let him sit behind his cousins for a year, and then move on. On the other hand, if he can play at an MVP level, the company will have to offer him another extension.
Kevin O’Connell’s job will be to unlock his quarterback completely. He is an elite thrower of deep ball with limited mobility and improvement skills. The new coach needs to plan around the flaws and use the strengths. His future with the franchise will be determined in the 2022 season.
No center has called his name in the NFL Draft before Garrett Bradbury since 2000. He was the 18th pick. That’s why there were high expectations for the center from the state of North Carolina. In the first three years of his career, Bradberry was a frustration, especially in the passing game.
In pass protection, the choice of the word ‘frustration’ doesn’t even go far enough. He caused a catastrophe to save the quarterback, Kirk Cousins ’costly investment. His PFF grades in pass protection were 38.7, 38.8 and 43.7. The undersized center is occupied by regular strong nose tackles. The old regime benched him in 2021 for Mason Cole. The new regime speaks to him, and he is expected to start another year. The fifth-year option was rejected, and therefore, he is in a contract year. Bradberry does not face real competition, which is somewhat worrying. Not much experience in the middle of the line with any new additions. Ed Ingram took some representation in the senior bowl there, and could possibly compete with Bradbury, signed by Chris Reid, the Colts.
Hopefully some schemes change and the new coach can help him reach the potential that Rick Spielman saw in him when he drafted him too high. If not, chances are he won’t be part of the organization after the upcoming season.
Entering his third promotion in the league, Dantzler is not in the contract season. However, after a promising start to his career, especially at the end of his Rocky campaign, when he regularly turned off the top opposition receiver, he disappeared in his second year. Bashaud Breland started with him and despite his brutal play, did not lose his job to Dantzler for a long time. Reports say he was at Mike Zimmer’s doghouse.
Confidence is a huge part of a cornerback game. If he can regain his confidence, he has a chance to start and be a top cornerback despite the presence of second-round pick Andrew Booth and veteran Patrick Peterson.
His most notable weakness when coming to the league with just 182 pounds was his frame. This is why his nickname is “Sui”. However, his weight is increasing.
If he can get his mind and body in perfect shape, he has a good chance to bounce back. Sky’s the limit, because he was the top cornerback on the Vikings roster every PFF back-to-back season. In 2020, he was ranked 22nd CB and in 2021 was ranked 17th out of 116 eligible players.
In his Rocky campaign, the receiver did not see the field on offense and only played as a kick returner, with poor results. Before his second season began in 2021, fans thought he was on the roster bubble and could even be cut. However, he was one of the highlights of last season and a solid third receiver.
The Vikings are expected to use more sets, including three receivers, and as such, their role will be crucial. It will be significant because Osborne has to prove how good he is. Was his breakout season the beginning of a big career or just a one-year fluke? He needs to show that he can make his second season and be more than just a long-term WR3. If he can’t, he’ll have to show that he’s even a trusted third receiver.
Hunter’s ability is unquestionable. He is one of the elite pass racers in the field. But that is the problem. Availability is the best ability, and he has not been found in the last two seasons. After starting record-breaking in his career, Hunter missed all but seven games in the previous two seasons. That means he missed more than 78% of the games.
Hunter has to prove that he really needs to be ranked at the level of elite pass racers. If he can’t stay healthy, there’s a good chance he won’t be on the list any longer. He has restructured his contract and is under contract for 2023. However, he will probably not play in that deal after the upcoming season. To get another big extension, he has to stay healthy.
All these players have something to gain and something to lose. The new front office and coaching staff will have to decide what they are going to do with the players in the next offseason. The level of play in the 2022 season will have a significant impact on the following roster rice for each Viking.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who has a myth of numbers and statistics. Despite Christian Ponder being a quarterback at the time, he chose the Vikings as his favorite team. He has a walking football encyclopedia and his favorite music genre of classic rock. Arguing about the Vikings on Twitter is one of his favorite things. If you like Vikings, follow him on Twitter: িকJanicEcard