4 Vikings Rookies Who Could Be Starters By Week One
With 2017 free agency and the NFL Draft officially in the rear view mirror, the real fun begins! Sure it was fun to mock draft, speculate wildly and circle rumors during the free agency period but once the 90-man offseason roster starts to take a little shape we can all begin looking forward to week number one against the New Orleans Saints. Better yet, we can starting inserting some of our newly acquired pieces into the mix as key players and in some cases even starters.
At this point, we’re obviously jumping to conclusions based off of college highlight reels and paper stats, but there’s an argument to be had that four of the Vikings rookie draft picks this season could fill in as starters as early as week one on Monday Night Football! I can already hear what you’re saying, “well, what does that say about our current roster?” It shouldn’t necessarily be taken as a slight to the squad from a year ago but with certain voids opened with players retiring, signing elsewhere and dealing with injuries, it’s going to be very close to a reality this season.
So here we go, here are the four rookies that might be on their way to a little bit of a bigger role than maybe they expected when their name was originally called by the Vikings during last weekend’s draft.
1. RB Dalvin Cook, 2nd round 40th overall selection
I took this specific topic on in full over at KFAN.com earlier this week, but here’s the summary of the argument for Cook. Latavius Murray is certainly in the plans for 2017 as we look at it right now, but given his present health status we don’t know if he’ll be ready for Training Camp let alone the preseason. One step further, the contract that Murray signed here in Minnesota has very little guaranteed, only $3.5MM as a matter of fact and then they can cut ties. Murray had a decent season a year ago behind a really good offensive line and with a really good up and coming quarterback, that’s something that shouldn’t be all that impressive. I mean the Raiders decided he wasn’t worth extending an offer to in free agency and instead opted to lure Marshawn Lynch out of retirement. They’re the ones that should know the most about Murray. Cook comes in raw out of college but highly talented when it comes to the physical aspects of the game. There will be a learning curve at the next level that will center mostly around pass blocking NFL rushers but instincts and skill takes over when he gets the ball in his hand. And when it comes to that, he has the abilities to shine, even at the NFL level. In conclusion, if Cook doesn’t start by the time week one comes around, be assured that it’s only a matter of time before the running back of the future here in Minnesota takes over in the backfield.
2. C Pat Elflein, 3rd round 70th overall selection
This might be the surest slam dunk of the entire group, so much so that the leadership over there at Winter Park has basically said so. The future at the center position for the Vikings is not named Joe Berger. While Berger has been a good stop gap over the past few years and was the bridge this team needed as John Sullivan’s injury put his career in question a few years back. Now we turn towards that future and the team is hoping that Elflein can be slotted at that spot. The best center in the nation last year, Elflein has a little nasty to him and has been said to “have a screw loose” which is great for an offensive lineman let alone the leader of that line. The most important thing that the Vikings can do this season is find consistency across that line, Pat should be a part of that.
3. LB Ben Gedeon, 4th round 120th overall selection
I don’t mean to be continuing down the line here with these picks, but it’s not always a guarantee. The team’s 4th round pick from a year ago was cut before the season started, so there’s that. Gedeon has a very real opportunity to jump in and start right away at the position that was left open with Chad Greenway’s retirement from the game. That’s a big void to fill, but Gedeon might be able to do it, to an extent. He has a knack for the football and if watching his highlights from college can tell us anything, when he gets to the ball carrier he’s going to wrap them up. The biggest adjustment for Ben at the NFL level will be working on patience to let the play develop a little before jumping into a hole that will leave him in a bad spot. Offenses in the NFL are a little more intricate and will work to purposefully push the opposition to overcommit before trapping them with a backside block that completely takes them out of the play. The faster that he can figure that out, the better chance he’ll have to jump in and make an impact right away.
4. WR Rodney Adams, 5th round 170th overall selection
I’ve mentioned a few of the other highlight reels that you should check out to familiarize yourself with our new players, but here’s the deal. If you watch just one video to get to know these new rookies, please go check out Adams’ college highlight reel because it will give a TON of context to what’s coming next. Take a look at how the USF offensive coordinators used Adams in college…remind you of anyone? It’s essentially all of the gadget plays that we saw over the past handful of years from guys like Percy Harvin and Cordarrelle Patterson here in Minnesota and other receivers league wide like Taylor Gabriel in Atlanta and even Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh. He’ll probably be the team’s “starting” kick returner out of the gate, but the potential to sprinkle him in on an end around, a reverse or a bubble screen is going to be very appealing to Pat Shurmur and the gang.
The opportunity and the talents have to match up perfectly for four rookies to come into the picture and start right out of the bat. I’m sure it’s happened at some point in the past but it’s gotta be super rare, and it could happen in Minnesota.
So what do you think? Do you agree with these four? Have another to sprinkle in? Let us know in the comments section below…