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The new-look Minnesota Vikings have the chance to produce a brand new Pro Bowler in 2022.
Whether that player comes from coach Kevin O’Connell’s high-flying offense or defensive coordinator Ed Donatell’s chameleon defense remains to be seen.
But NFL.com’s Nick Shook is taking a completely different angle when it comes to predicting a first-time Pro Bowler for the Vikings. He’s looking specifically at special teams with speedy return man Kene Nwangwu.
When explaining the reasoning for his pick, Shook wrote:
“I’m going to turn to special teams, then, and choose an overlooked returner who took two kicks back for touchdowns in his rookie season. Nwangwu probably won’t see much action as a running back, but he proved to be a weapon in the kick return game despite only fielding 18 kickoffs last season. Give him the job over a full season and we might even see that total hit three, at which point he can no longer be overlooked.”
A talented player like second-year offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw could have easily fit in this spot, but Nwangwu clearly makes sense here, too.
Anyone that doesn’t believe speed kills should try to tackle the former fourth-round draft pick out of Iowa State in the open field. He’s a legitimate home run threat with the ability to take it to the house every time the ball is in his hands.
It’s pretty impressive that he amassed 579 return yards and two touchdowns on only 18 returns as a rookie. Those numbers could jump in 2022 with more special teams work likely coming his way.
And while his work in the offense will be limited, don’t be surprised to see O’Connell attempt to get him more involved in that aspect as well. The offensive guru thrives on creating mismatches, and the Vikings would be hard-pressed to find a better matchup nightmare than Nwangwu on the field.
A breakout season in 2022 could finally be the time when the rest of the world stops overlooking and starts paying attention.