The Vikings offense has a lot of new faces and a lot of returning faces that look to turn themselves into household names. Here are the top five most likely to have breakout seasons.
#5 LT/LG Ezra Cleveland
Recent reports indicate Kubiak is willing to give rookie Ezra Cleveland a shot at starting at left guard. This could either have a Mike Remmers-Like effect, or start his career off at a Pro Bowl level. Cleveland has shown that he already has a very good understanding of run blocking in a zone system, and he has more than athleticism to make all the blocks. The move to guard will shield him from some of the advanced techniques edge rushers employ, and allow for slightly easier blocking assignments, while he adjusts to life in the NFL.
#4 WR Justin Jefferson
The Dynamic wide receiver from LSU has a chance to make an immediate impact right away on this team. His skill set fits perfectly with Kubiak’s system, and he should see his fair share of single coverage with Adam Thielen back and healthy. Jefferson will have to learn how to defeat press coverage in the NFL and how to win on the outside if he is to become successful. Given the high regard from the organization no one in the Brain trust thinks he is incapable of doing so.
#3 WR Tajae Sharpe
Sharpe is by far the most underrated player on the Vikings offense. His career was stalled by a declining quarterback and a sloppy offensive system, until last season when Tennessee found some rhythm. By that time it was too late, he was buried on a depth chart in a run first offense which resulted in just thirty- eight targets on the season. Kirk Cousins Is set to become the best quarterback Sharpe has played with by a mile, and his understanding of routes and ability to win on the outside could lead to Sharpe becoming the Vikings next deep threat.
#2 TE Irv Smith JR.
To Say the Vikings underused Smith Jr. is an extreme understatement. At Alabama he averaged 14.4 yards per reception across two seasons. In his rookie season in Minny that number dropped by a full five yards and his average target distance was less than Fullback CJ Ham( 6.2). He has shown flashes of separation, RAC ability, and good hands. Kubiak’s emphasis on the tight end position should help get Smith Jr see substantial improvement in year two.
#1 C Garrett Bradbury
Bradbury had a rough start to his career giving up eleven pressures and a sack in the first four games of his career. He improved drastically over the next ten weeks allowing only eight pressures and not a single sack. Year two in the same system should help him continue his growth into the anchor of the offensive line, and finally turn this group into one that should be feared.