With the 2023 draft coming up, I thought it would be a good time to look back and evaluate the Vikings’ 2022 rookie class. 2022 was Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s first draft with the Vikings. The Vikings rookie class was a rollercoaster, with injuries hitting four players. Some rookies took advantage of their opportunities, while others will have to wait until next season for theirs. While it’s tough to say if a player was a hit or a miss after year one, it doesn’t hurt to see which way they’re trending after year one. With that, let’s start evaluating the Vikings’ 2022 rookie class.
Lewis Cine (S) – 1st Round/Pick 32
Lewis Cine’s rookie season wasn’t what you hope for any rookie let alone a first-round pick—his season ended when he suffered a compound fracture in his left leg in the Vikings’ 28-25 win over the Saints in London. Cine had to undergo multiple surgeries but has been progressing very well, as seen in the clip below.
— ⱠɆ₩ł₴ ₵ł₦Ɇ (@LewisCine) February 3, 2023
Trending Slightly Down: The rookie out of Georgia didn’t see much playing time this season. Cine battled a knee injury that had him miss preseason and regular season games. He played in only three games and registered two defensive snaps and 34 on special teams. You battle injuries all year; it’s hard to say he trending up. His lack of playing time on defense is concerning and will be a significant focus during the upcoming season, especially with Brian Flores as the new DC. The pressure will be on Cine in his sophomore campaign regarding both his recovery from his injury and if he can get some serious playing time on defense.
Andrew Booth Jr. (CB) – 2nd Round/Pick 42
Andrew Booth Jr., like Lewis Cine, had his rookie season cut short due to injuries. Booth battled injuries all season, missing time during OTA’s due to an injury with his ankle and then injuring his quad in week one. Booth only played in six games during his rookie campaign, playing 105 snaps on defense and another 40 on special teams. His season officially ended against Dallas, where he suffered a meniscus injury. After undergoing surgery, Booth was placed on the IR and missed the rest of the 2022 season. Booth had 12 tackles during his rookie campaign.
Trending Slightly Up: Much like Lewis Cine, evaluating him on only a tiny sample is hard. With his injuries, it’s hard to determine which way he is trending. Booth was getting attention during training camp, so he has the talent and playmaking ability. He needs to stay healthy long enough to prove it.
Ed Ingram (G) – 2nd Round/Pick 59
Ed Ingram had a promising rookie season playing and starting in all 18 of the Vikings’ games (including the playoffs). Pretty good for a rookie. During his rookie season, Ingram played all 1,168 offensive snaps, only had four penalties called on him, and gave up 11 sacks. Ingram had some issues with consistency and struggled at points to protect Cousins, something he’ll need to work on in year two.
Trending Up: As of this moment, Ingram has proven he has what it takes to make it in this league and succeed. The big thing for me is he started every game this season. Given the Vikings’ issues with injuries, it’ll be big if he can avoid landing on the injury list throughout his career. The biggest question is can he fix his issues with being inconsistent? If he can do that and show that he can cut down on those mistakes, he’ll be a vital part of the offensive line for the foreseeable future.
Brian Asamoah II (LB) – 3rd Round/Pick 66
The third-round pick out of the University of Oklahoma, Brian Asamoah II, provided more of a depth role during his rookie campaign, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t gain any valuable playing time. Asamoah played 119 defensive snaps and another 285 on special teams. Unfortunately for Asamoah, he was playing behind Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks. Asamoah tallied 17 tackles, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery in his rookie season.
Trending Up: With rumors of players like Kendricks being cut, Asamoah is in a prime spot to be starting on defense next season. Brain Asamoah saw a lot of growth in his rookie season; being praised for his speed at training camp and for being built like a strong safety. Be on the lookout for a breakout year in Asamoah’s sophomore season.
Akayleb Evans (CB) – 4th Round/Pick 118
Another rookie plagued by injuries, Akayleb Evans, also had his season cut short, not playing in a game after week 13. Evans suffered three concussions over three months. Even with missing so much time, Evans had the most playing time out of any rookie on defense, playing 162 snaps. During his rookie season, Evans had 23 tackles, one forced fumble, and two passes defended.
Trending Slightly Up: Another player with injuries who I can’t fully say which way he is trending. Unlike Cine, he played enough to show what he could, but three concussions are a big concern, especially in today’s game. If he can stay healthy and avoid concussions, I don’t see how he doesn’t become a hit, but can he avoid getting another concussion? That’s the question.
Esezi Otomewo (DL) – 5th Round/Pick 165
Esezi Otomewo had to wait until week 14 to see any real playing time with the Vikings in his rookie season. Otomewo appeared in five games and totaled five tackles. When finally given a chance to play, Otomewo looked fine in his time on the field but didn’t show anything that would be considered exceptional.
Trending Slightly Up: Here’s the thing with Otomewo, he was more of a depth piece in 2022. He gained valuable time on the field, and with Brian Flores as the new DC, this should give him the perfect opportunity to learn and grow as a player in year two.
Ty Chandler (RB) – 5th Round/Pick 169
Ty Chandler didn’t see much action during his rookie year. The running back did appear in three games, rushing for 20 yards on six attempts, averaging 3.3 yards per carry (all against the Bears in week 18). Like many others on this list, Chandler also dealt with a broken thumb that landed him on the IR early in the season.
Trending Slightly Up: Again, injuries make it hard to determine his status, especially with so little time on the field. The thing for Chandler is that with Mattison being mentioned in trade rumors last season and Cook potentially being cut, he could have a chance to be a top-two guy next season if he can beat players out in camp. If Cook is cut, it could open the door for Chandler to come in and compete for a starting position; we just have to wait and see how everything falls in the coming months.
Vederian Lowe (T) – 6th Round/Pick 184
Vederian Lowe spent most of his rookie season on the Vikings practice squad. He did appear in five games and played 33 snaps in the Vikings’ week 18 game against the Bears. During his time on the field, Lowe played decently, looking like a player who could end up on the 53-man roster next season.
Trending Slightly Up: Lowe didn’t play much but did show a little promise. That’s all I can really say. He could end up in a backup role in his sophomore year, and given that he didn’t get hurt, he could get some real playing time next season if the Vikings end up with a lot of injuries on the offensive line yet again.
Jalen Nailor (WR) – 6th Round/Pick 191
Jalen Nailor played in 15 of the Vikings’ 18 games but didn’t produce much. Nailor had nine receptions for 179 and one touchdowns. Most of Nailor’s production came in weeks 17 and 18. It was hard for Nailor to get time on the field this year with a loaded receiving core of Jefferson, Thielen, Osborn, and Hockenson (who was acquired mid-season).
Trending Slightly Up: Receivers are a dime a dozen, so it’s not hard to say he’ll succeed, but with talks of Thielen not coming back, it could open the door for Nailor to battle it out for the number three spot behind Jefferson and Osborn. The thing with a guy like Nailor is he’s easily replaceable. It’s not hard to find someone to come in a be a number three guy in a loaded core. With Reagor on the team and potentially signing someone in free agency and/or drafting someone, Nailor likely has next year to prove that he can be that number three guy or his tenure in Minnesota may be over.
Nick Muse (TE) – 7th Round/Pick 227
Nick Muse spent most of his time on the practice squad but did play in ten games on special teams. Unfortunately for him, the acquisition of T.J. Hockenson at the trade deadline put him back on the practice squad and took away any real chance of getting time at tight end.
Trending Down: Unfortunately for Muse, Hockenson is the number one guy it doesn’t seem likely for there to be a role for him on the team. Irv Smith’s future is still up in the air, so he could play his way into a backup spot, but he likely won’t see the field much other than special teams. The good news for Muse is that he was signed to a futures contract after the season, so he’ll still have another year as Viking.
Vikings 2022 Rookie Class Grade and Summary
Overall, the Vikings 2022 rookie class is still a bit of a mystery. Injuries to four players doesn’t help. The bright side is the high potential this class has. If Cine, Booth, and Evans can all recover from injuries and stay healthy, it could pay off in a solid secondary (something Minnesota needs right now). Asamoah is being discussed as a breakout star in year two, and Ed Ingram is prime for becoming a quality starter on the offensive line.
I don’t feel like the Vikings missed on anyone other than Muse and that’s just because of the talent at the spot. Most players for me are trending up slightly with a lot of questions that need answering. There is some potential in Chandler and Nailor, who could see more time pending any losses in free agency. With that, here is my current grade for the Vikings rookie class: B. Look, this class could go anywhere from a D to an A; it just depends on how guys develop and return bounce back from injuries.
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