Is Year 3 the Charm for a Young Vikings Defender?

The Minnesota Vikings went through a number of roster changes throughout this offseason.

A couple of these changes came at the inside linebacker position as both Jordan Hicks and Troy Dye departed the team in free agency. Of course, the Vikings brought in both Blake Cashman and Kamu Grugier-Hill to help replace the duo.

Even with those moves, could one young Vikings defender finally get a chance to shine in 2024?

Young Vikings Defender Has a Chance to Earn a Larger Role in 2024

Vikings Defender
Aug 3, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Brian Asamoah II (33) during training camp at TCO Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Asamoah was selected in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft by the Vikings, being picked with the 66th overall pick. This selection came after a three-year collegiate career at the University of Oklahoma in which the linebacker recorded 168 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, five passes defended, and an interception.

Of course, Asamoah was buried on the Vikings depth chart behind Dye and Hicks as well as Eric Kendricks, and he appeared in 16 games while playing 119 defensive snaps along with 285 special teams snaps.

The linebacker amassed 17 tackles throughout the course of the season, and he had a key forced fumble and recovery in Minnesota’s Week 16 win against the New York Giants to clinch the NFC North division crown.

NFL: New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Brian Asamoah II (33) forces a fumble against New York Giants tight end Daniel Bellinger (82) during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

It seemed like things were pointing upwards for Asamoah by the end of his rookie season, but he took some major steps in the wrong direction during 2023.

Even with Kendricks leaving in free agency, Asamoah was unable to take on a larger role in the Vikings’ defense last season. He played just 36 defensive snaps and 196 special teams snaps over the course of 13 games, recording seven tackles.

A big reason for that may have been the emergence of Ivan Pace as a starter after he was signed by the team as an undrafted free agent out of Cincinnati. Injuries may have also played a role in that decreased role, though.

PFF Tabs Young Vikings Linebacker as a Breakout Candidate in 2023
Sep 25, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Brian Asamoah II (33) in action against the Detroit Lions during the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Asamoah underwent a shoulder surgery in January to repair an injury that may have hampered him throughout the year. During an appearance on SKOR North’s “Mackey and Judd” show, Darren Wolfson of KSTP stated, “My understanding is he was battling something the entire year. […] We now know why it was such a difficult year. He got hurt early, and he never recovered. So this surgery this week was to fix that problem that started back in training camp.”

With a little less competition at the position and a newly repaired shoulder, perhaps 2024 can be the breakout year for Asamoah that Vikings fans have been waiting for.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Reference and Sports Reference CFB.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.