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The Minnesota Vikings are hopeful their incoming rookie class can make an immediate impact on the field in the 2022 season. That’s partly what the win-now year is hinging on.
Sure, the Vikings have talent on both sides of the ball, but there are key areas on the field they were never going to improve at unless they upgraded through the draft.
There were several rookies taken that have an opportunity to make a significant impact in their first year with the team.
Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah finessed his way up and down the draft board and came away with 10 players in total, before taking in a slew of undrafted rookie free agents.
Let’s keep things fun and narrow it down to only three players. Here are the rookies most likely to have the biggest impact in 2022.
G, Ed Ingram
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We’re starting in the trenches on this list with offensive guard Ed Ingram, who was taken with the No. 59 overall pick in the second round.
It doesn’t matter how much firepower quarterback Kirk Cousins has at his disposal if the Vikings fail to stand their ground along the offensive front. If they’re getting pushed around again at right guard and center, the jet will remain landed for the Kevin O’Connell-coached offense.
Oli Udoh at right guard had the lowest Pro Football Focus grade of the Vikings’ offensive linemen last season, and the team has bent over backwards in an effort to rectify things this year. They added a pair of capable veterans in Jesse Davis and Chris Reed to compete for the starting job.
And they also went out and drafted Ingram, who has the talent to be a long-term solution to the Vikings’ right guard woes. He still hasn’t officially signed his rookie contract, but the hope is that the team can finalize his deal and get him competing for that starting role up front.
Davis and Reed received the brunt of the attention throughout the spring practices, but that could quickly change this summer when the pads come on at training camp. Ingram clearly has the higher ceiling at one of the biggest positions of needs on the roster for the Vikings.
OLB, Luiji Vilain
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You can never have too many pass rushers.
Vikings defensive coordinator Ed Donatell is going to have a blast getting undrafted rookie free agent Luiji Vilain in the mix of some of his quarterback-hunting packages.
The former Wake Forest prodigy has the potential to be one of the biggest steals of the 2022 NFL draft. Power, athleticism and motor—it’s all there for Vilain to punish opposing offenses at the next level.
He has the ability to be a solid rotational piece for a Vikings team that also has two Pro Bowl pass-rushers in Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith.
When speaking with the Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson, a pass-rushing coach claimed Vilain was going to “play for a long time in the NFL” and do so at a “high level.”
S, Lewis Cine
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The first player taken off the draft board for the Vikings was the hard-hitting safety out of Georgia, Lewis Cine.
Even in the spring practices, he has already had multiple opportunities to work with the first-team defense, and O’Connell was also encouraging him to be more of a vocal leader for the other rookies.
He’s already being groomed to be “the guy” in the defensive backfield before he’s even taken an NFL snap. It’ll help playing next to the current guy, Harrison Smith, who is a legendary figure at the safety position.
The knowledge Cine will be able to extract from Smith should take his game to the level needed to create a fearsome duo on the backend of the defense.