Rick Spielman’s Gifts Keep On Giving in 2022

Vikings Spielman
Jun 11, 2019; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman after practice at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Rick Spielman’s gifts have been making a major difference in 2022.

For the most part, Vikings fans seemed enthused about heading in a new direction during the offseason. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell are now in charge, and it’d be hard to define their 2022 season as anything other than successful.

Let’s not forget, though, that Spielman brought in two sensational young talents in Justin Jefferson and Christian Darrisaw before being fired.

Rick Spielman’s Gifts and 2022 Success

The question: where would this Vikings team be without Justin Jefferson and Christian Darrisaw? The answer: nowhere near 11 wins.

Jefferson is sensational, a remarkably gifted receiver who is soon to surpass Randy Moss’s single-season receiving record. I’m sure there can sometimes be some eye-rolling among readers since there is so much attention given to #18. It’s worth remembering, though, that he truly is special, an extraordinary talent who gives his team an advantage on a week-in, week-out basis.

Meanwhile, Darrisaw is already in elite territory for offensive tackles. The fine folks at PFF suggest that only San Francisco’s Trent Williams has been better in 2022. His ability to lockdown one side of the line allows his head coach to shift extra protection elsewhere. Partnering Darrisaw with Ezra Cleveland gives O’Connell a super athletic left side.

The point I’m trying to get around to, folks, is that these two players are Rick Spielman’s gifts to the current team.

Indeed, they are each first-round picks from his final two drafts as the Vikings’ GM. Darrisaw was the 23rd pick in 2021 and Jefferson the 22nd pick in 2020. Both players are a great reminder that elite talent can be found later in the opening round. If each draft were to get redone, both players would be surefire top-5 picks

Nov 21, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) and offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw (71) and wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) and guard Ezra Cleveland (72) in action against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Moving forward, Darrisaw and Jefferson will continue to be cornerstone pieces in Minnesota. Quarterback is indisputably the most important position in the game. We can be sure, though, that just about every quarterback to ever play loves having an elite talent at LT and WR. After QB, they’re probably the two most important positions for an NFL offense.

The encouraging thing is that Minnesota’s success in 2022 doesn’t need to be done after the season. Since Jefferson and Darrisaw are so young, the potential is there for continued offensive excellence. We also must remember that players like T.J. Hockenson, K.J. Osborn, and Ezra Cleveland are all young, giving us even more reason to believe that this is a group that can thrive for years to come.

The Season for Giving

Folks, it’s not long before Santa arrives. Truthfully, there is still a little work to be done in my household, but hopefully things are more serene on your end.

For a lot of people, the Christmas season is about giving gifts. Well, Rick Spielman’s gifts to Minnesota’s roster are two young, elite players at critically important positions. Jefferson and Darrisaw are already top-tier NFL players and each is only 23. Don’t forget that: neither has even gotten to their mid-20s.

Both will get the chance to keep helping Minnesota when New York comes to town on Christmas Eve. The game will begin at 12 CST at U.S. Bank Stadium. Don’t forget to wear white.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference helped with this piece.

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