The Minnesota Vikings have a significant amount of veteran talent on the roster, but they’ve also complemented that with some younger players at or near the top of the league at their positions. A couple of those players have been highlighted on a list of the best young players in the NFL.
Behind the great E$PN paywall, a trio of their draft analysts (Matt Bowen, Matt Miller, and Jordan Reid) have compiled a list of who they feel are the top 25 players in the NFL under the age of 25. The Vikings have two players on the list, neither of whom should come as a huge surprise.
As you’ve probably guessed already, the first one is wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Jefferson checks in at #2 on the ESPN list, trailing only Micah Parsons (who was the unanimous #1 choice of all three analysts). Jefferson is just 23 years old, so he’ll be on this list next year, too.
Here’s what Bowen had to say about Jefferson:
A true difference-maker in the Vikings’ offense, Jefferson has the ability to take over games. We can look at the savvy route-running traits, the vertical juice or the ability to make contested catches. He wins at every level of the field. And with three straight seasons of over 1,000 yards receiving, Jefferson is already one of the league’s best at the position. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, he has made 23.5 receptions over expectation during his career, and his 4,248 receiving yards tops the NFL since 2020 by more than 300.
The other Viking on the list is the 23-year-old budding star they have at left tackle, Christian Darrisaw. Darrisaw has been outstanding this season, but missed most of the Dallas game and all of the New England game while dealing with a concussion. When he’s been on the field, however, he’s been the sort of left tackle that an offense can build around for a decade.
Here’s Bowen’s commentary on Darrisaw:
Darrisaw has the traits to develop into one of the league’s top players at the left tackle position. He’s an easy mover who can smoothly climb to the second level in the run game, with the body control and lateral foot quickness to match pass-rushers. Darrisaw has registered a pass block win rate of 86% this season, up from 77.6% in his rookie year, and he has allowed just one sack in 2022.
With Jefferson and Darrisaw, the Vikings have themselves a couple of outstanding young cornerstones to build around going forward. Whatever we have to say about Rick Spielman and the way his tenure in Minnesota ended, he certainly didn’t leave a bare cupboard for Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and company.