Should the 2022 Vikings Draft Class Be a Concern?

So far this year, we’ve seen very little production from the 2022 Vikings Draft class. Whether that be because of injury or simply being unable to move up in the depth chart, it’s been a rough go for the Vikings rookies. Because of that, do we need to be concerned about the 2022 Vikings Draft class?

Limited Playing Time

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

Through the first 11 games, only RG Ed Ingram, CB Andrew Booth, and CB Akayleb Evans have played over 100 snaps on either offense or defense. Ingram has played all 744 snaps for the Vikings offense, while Evans sits at 112 snaps on defense and Booth has 105. It’s also notable that rookies Brian Asamoah (206), Theo Jackson (127), and Jalen Nailor (111) have appeared in over 100 special teams snaps.

However, even among the three players that have broken onto the field for the offense and defense, the production has been limited. Ingram has been among the worst right guards in the NFL, with a PFF grade of 54.7 so far this year. The rookie guard has allowed eight sacks this year, again per PFF, which is the most in the league.

Additionally, even before they got injured, it was jarring to see Lewis Cine and Booth, the first two picks of the Vikings draft, unable to find consistent playing time on defense.

Injuries, Injuries, Injuries

Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Lewis Cine. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Amidst what has been a relativaly healthy year for the Vikings overall, especially compared to recent years, the Vikings 2022 Draft class has been bombarded with issues all season long. The aforementioned Booth is the latest to hit IR with an injury, and he is the second Vikings rookie to be out for the rest of the season.

The first of which is safety Lewis Cine, who the Vikings selected in the first round of the draft with the 32nd overall pick. He suffered a compound fracture in Week 4 against the New Orleans Saints, and he was almost immediately named out for the rest of the season.

Elsewhere, though, rookie RB Ty Chandler has also been on IR since breaking his thumb in Week 5 against the Chicago Bears. CB Akayleb Evans has also missed the last two games due to a concussion against the Buffalo Bills. Needless to say, it’s been a tough go for this draft class.

It’s Too Early to Worry

The State of the Vikings: Week 12
Oct 16, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Akayleb Evans (21) after a game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

Obviously, injuries that hamper players during their rookie seasons are frustrating, but it remains far too early to be concerned about draft picks being unsuccessful or “busts”. Additionally, some moments of struggle from guys like Ed Ingram on the offensive line should be expected. There are growing pains from any rookie, so we can’t throw in the towel on him yet, either.

We also need to understand that many of the draft picks are players meant to solidify the Vikings future. Right now, especially on defense, the Vikings have a number of veterans that must be starters in order to get as much value out of them as possible.

That certainly applies to guys like Cine and Booth where the Vikings already had multiple starting caliber players. That said, it would be naive to think Patrick Peterson and Harrison Smith will continue playing at this high level for years to come. The Vikings needed depth at these spots and security for down the road, and that’s what Booth and Cine can be at this point.

Finally, some of the play we’ve seen from rookies, especially the defensive ones, has been fabulous. CB Akayleb Evans filled in nicely when Cam Dantzler initially went on IR, so that’s a great thing to see from a cornerback that could be part of the Vikings long term plan.

Additionally, Brian Asamoah has been a strong special teams player as well. He’s played two-thirds of the Vikings special teams and has proven to be excellent on the coverage teams.

At the end of the day, we can’t close the door on any draft class, let alone this one, during its first years. There’s plenty of time for improvements down the road, especially considering all the veteran talent mentoring these players day in and day out.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.