A Couple of Vikings Rookies Are Expected to Star Early

3 rookies couldApr 27, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; USC wide receiver Jordan Addison reacts after being selected by the Minnesota Vikings twenty third overall in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

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April 27, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; USC wide receiver Jordan Addison reacts at Union Station after being selected twenty-third overall by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Mandatory credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings rookies arrived at the TCO Performance Center on Sunday to officially kick off training camp. While the 2022 newcomers try to salvage themselves after a disappointing debut season, the newcomers enter training camp with a clean slate and look to hit the ground running. Two of them have been highly publicized and could make an impact soon.

Some Vikings rookies may soon be stars

With Lewis Caine and Andrew Booth injured for most of their rookie campaigns, the Vikings literally have two draft classes serving as reinforcements at once. Caine is now fully healthy, and Booth received praise from teammate KJ Osborne at the start of the summer, but the new novice class is expected to have two early standouts. One made Chris Trapasso’s (CBS Sports) Preseason All-Rookie TeamAnd another was an honorable mention.

December 18, 2021; Shreveport, LA, USA; UAB Blazers running back Deven McBride (22) breaks a tackle against BYU Cougars linebacker Max Tooley (31) during the fourth quarter during the 2021 Independence Bowl at Independence Stadium. Mandatory credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports.

According to most pundits, it was a phenomenal running class. Two first-rounders – Bijon Robinson and Jahmir Gibbs – were top picks on Trapasso’s team, but Vikings seventh-rounder Deven McBride came in as the only honorable mention at the position.

Many viewed McBride as a mid-round draft pick, but he was lost to the Vikings in the seventh round, possibly due to his nagging injury that prevented him from testing properly at the combine. His pass catching record is virtually non-existent, which is also a problem in today’s NFL. But Trapasso is still optimistic about one of his favorite rookies.

First-rounders, first-rounders, and, yes, seventh-round picks. I’ve been riding the McBride train since he was selected by the Vikings in the final round of the 2023 draft, and said the train got a fuel-boost when Dalvin Cook was released weeks ago. McBride had tons of talent the other day and is part of a running back room with Alexander Mattison and Ty Chandler that serves behind a strong offensive line in Kevin O’Connell’s branch-of-the-Shanahan-Tree rushing attack.

November 13, 2021; Huntington, West Virginia, USA; UAB Blazers running back Deven McBride (22) jumps over Marshall Thundering Hurd safety EJ Jackson (21) during the third quarter at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Mandatory credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports.

McBride totaled over 3,000 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns in the last two seasons of his journey at UAB. If his production succeeds in the NFL, the league and Alexander Mattison could be in trouble. However, he matched those numbers against lower level competition and not quite in the SEC. He will definitely be one of the main attractions in training camp, and his potential seems enormous.

He will have to compete with Ty Chandler and Kene Nwangwu for backup duties before pushing forward Alexander Mattison for the starting job.

But not only will McBride be interested in training camp, but Jordan Addison, a first-round pick, will also be attracted. Trapasso is hopeful the wideout will shine on the field after his off-field incident hit the news.

Although he did not make his first team debut as one of the two top perimeter WRs, he is listed as a second team receiver.

April 27, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; USC wide receiver Jordan Addison with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected twenty-third overall by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station. Mandatory credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

I was down on Edison more than most people, mostly because of his tiny frame and average-to-best pre-draft workout. He is a smooth, slippery route runner and plays more athletically with the ball in his hands. There’s ball-tracking in his game as well, and an offensive game similar to Justin Jefferson’s isn’t likely to see much coverage in his direction.

Many pundits share those concerns about Edison but still regard him as a wonderful prospect. The rookie played in Pittsburgh for two seasons, helping Kenny Puckett hear his name called in the first round on his way to winning the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best receiver.

November 19, 2022; Pasadena, California, USA; Wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) of the Southern California Trojans runs the ball against the UCLA Bruins during the first half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

After his outstanding season, he transferred to USC, where he could play alongside Caleb Williams – potentially the next first overall choice – in Lincoln Riley’s attack. Riley is an offensive mastermind and is highly respected in the college ranks. Addison’s numbers dropped significantly in the new spread offense, but he still led his team in receptions, yards, and touchdowns.

The slight frame is a bit of a concern, but he dealt with it in college, and there are ways to work around it, especially when the defense is focused on Justin Jefferson. His first task is to beat out KJ Osborne for WR2 duties in the Vikings’ WR-friendly offense.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who loves numbers and statistics. The Vikings became his favorite team at the time, despite quarterback Christian Ponder. He is a walking football encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms and classic rock is his musical genre of choice. If you like Vikings, follow them on Twitter: @JanikEckardt

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