How High Can Ty Chandler Ascend?

Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports.

One of the more encouraging parts of the Vikings preseason was the strength of the running game. Vikings fans have seen some good things from all the backs, but Ty Chandler has really stood out. The rookie running back has been balanced, tough, and competitive in his opportunities in the preseason.

Chandler joined the Vikings as a 5th-round pick in the most recent draft. A draft profile on the league’s website suggests that he has room to improve despite his strengths:

He’s a smooth strider who can become a little disjointed when processing and attacking the blocking scheme. Chandler needs to turn up the play speed in the early stages to attack the fleeting run lanes he will see in the pros. In a deep running back draft, Chandler’s ability to catch passes and return kicks should help improve his chance of being selected on Day 3.

Whatever the issues are, Ty Chandler showed that he has a ton of ability during the Vikings’ preseason.

By the end of the three games, he was the team’s rushing leader with 113 yards. He had 15 carries that came with an average of 7.5 yards per attempt. He also had a touchdown against the 49ers.

Part of the issue, of course, is that running back is one of the deepest, most talented positions on the Vikings roster. Dalvin Cook is the RB1, a player who will be featured prominently in the starting offense. When he’s at his best, Cook can take over a game. Behind him is Alexander Mattison, a player who some underestimate. Mattison has the capacity to be a strong player, someone who can contribute as both a runner and a pass catcher. Indeed, he catches the ball well, so don’t be surprised if he ends up coming in during some third downs.

Moreover, C.J. Ham – the starting fullback – will also get some opportunities (and rightfully so).

The end result is a crowded RB room, especially since Kene Nwangwu and Bryant Koback have also had some good moments in the preseason. Nwangwu will make this team; he’s an excellent kickoff returner. One wonders if there will be a spot for Koback simply because of the aforementioned depth.

With all that being said, we return to the central question: how high can Ty Chandler ascend in 2022? Forced to guess, I’d say he’s already the RB3. Nwangwu is so important to special teams that it wouldn’t be shocking if the coaching staff limited his touches on offense.

While RB3 may not sound like a great spot to be, we mustn’t forget that Chandler is a 5th-round rookie. Simply making the team is, in many ways, a win. Plus, Cook’s injury concerns are well known. If the veteran misses more time, then Chandler all of the sudden can become the RB2. In that scenario, he’d likely get a decent amount of work.

Obviously, we’re all hoping to see good health for the Vikings. It’s reassuring, though, that there is so much depth at one of the more physical positions. Chandler is going to have a role on this team.