Dark horse candidates to be Vikings starters in 2021

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

At this point in the offseason, Minnesota seems pretty solidified at its starting positions.

With only a few exceptions, the Vikings have at least a serviceable player to put at a starting spot. But what about the players who make strides this offseason? What if there are a few surprising names at the top of the depth chart in 2021?

This is a list of some of those players. Maybe you don’t expect these players to start, and they’re not by any means the favorites to do so, but it’s also a possibility that they could.

Here are four dark horse candidates to start for Minnesota in 2021:

CB Harrison Hand

Minnesota Vikings cornerback Harrison Hand (38) plays against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

From the limited action the public has seen from OTAs, Harrison Hand has been good. He was also good in limited reps this past season. Now that he has an NFL season under his belt, he can make a leap and possibly work his way up the depth chart, especially if the cornerback unit struggles with durability or consistency.

CB Bashaud Breeland

Dec 6, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Bashaud Breeland (21) reacts after a defensive pass interference call during the second half against the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Breeland reportedly expects to compete for one of the starting cornerback spots out wide. From Breeland's perspective, that shouldn't come as a shock: he has starting experience with the Chiefs and showed he could be pretty good. Is he a favorite to take one of the cornerback spots over Patrick Peterson or Cameron Dantzler? I'm going to say no. Still, though, there's a chance.

DT Jaylen Twyman

Sep 7, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers linebacker Phil Campbell III (24) and linebacker Elias Reynolds (44) and defensive lineman Jaylen Twyman (97) and defensive lineman Deslin Alexandre (5) celebrate a defensive stop against the Ohio Bobcats during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won 20-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Twyman will have to up his speed if his pro day is any indication. However, the defensive tackle showed he could be a force during his collegiate career at Pittsburgh. Now, Twyman can come in and potentially be a penetrating three-technique player. Maybe Michael Pierce can't play a significant number of snaps in 2021. If that's the case, Minnesota will have to lean on Dalvin Tomlinson as a run-stopper, paving the way for Twyman to potentially start as a pass-rushing threat.

OL Mason Cole

Arizona Cardinals center Mason Cole during an NFL football game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 in Foxborough, Mass. (Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini)

I see a lot of people assuming that Wyatt Davis will be the starter opposite Ezra Cleveland on the interior offensive line in 2021. That could very well be the case, but Cole is also a candidate to take that spot. Cole played center and guard for the Cardinals. He fits the bill of a Vikings offensive lineman by not being huge, but being good in run blocking. Maybe Minnesota goes with Cole over a rookie on the interior.

S Camryn Bynum

Minnesota Vikings rookie Camryn Bynum, right, listens to head coach Mike Zimmer during NFL football rookie minicamp Friday, May 14, 2021, in Eagan, Minn. (Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune via AP)

The Vikings signed Xavier Woods this offseason. Woods is likely the favorite to start, but he's coming off a down year for the Cowboys, where he had one pass defended, no picks and a PFF grade of 61.9. Bynum was a proved to be a very good cornerback in college. He has some question marks by switching to safety, but if he adjusts quickly, the starting position could be his as soon as 2021.

1

1