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Ranking Rookies Not Named Jordan Addison That Will Contribute ASAP

Let’s look at the new guys

NFL: MAY 12 Minnesota Vikings Rookie Minicamp

The Minnesota Vikings have always prided themselves on developing young talent, and this year is no different. With a solid draft class and several undrafted free agents, the Vikings have a group of rookies who have the potential to contribute significantly in their first season. Let’s take a closer look at the top-ranked Vikings rookies who are likely to make an immediate impact in year one. We’ll rank FIVE rookies. It is unlikely for three plus rookies to start or contribute right out of the gates, but here we go.

  1. Jay Ward, S/CB: This might be a “hot take” to some of you, but Jay Ward can ball. He is a long, lengthy defender who flies off the tape. Ward is a stout run defender and great tackler who uses both power and finesse to get to the ball carrier. He also has the ability to slide into the nickel to cover the opposing slot receiver where he can be physical. Ward also brings a ball-hawk type coverage guy to the Minnesota secondary who desperately needs play making defensive backs. When Ward plays safety, he shows good range from center field, being able to cover side line to side line and even better yet, he keeps everything in front of him. Crucial for not giving up big plays. We’ll see where Flores will have him lined up, but Jay Ward’s play style reminds me a lot of his teammate, Harrison Smith. To describe Jay Ward’s play style in one word: Versatile. During his 4-year career at LSU, Ward amassed 161 total tackles, 6 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and two touchdowns. Defensive back is a major issue that was addressed after last year’s struggles, and given his talent and versatility, I believe Ward will have his opportunity in camp to earn a spot on the team and make an immediate impact.
  2. Jaquelin Roy, DT: Another position of need was addressed this offseason when the Minnesota Vikings selected Jaquelin Roy in the fifth round of this years draft. Not only does he have a chance to make an immediate impact for the team because he plays a position of need, but Roy also has a full tool box for the Vikings to work with. Roy has the prototype frame and looks to have the athleticism on film to be a productive NFL player. As a pass rusher, Roy uses his athleticism to move on splits and stunts to get to the quarterback. He has the ability to flip his hips and turn up field which leads tackles for loss, pressures, or sacks. Although he is not an instinctual pass rusher, Roy uses his big frame and athletic ability to make the most of his pass rush attempts. As a run defender, Roy uses his quick hips and athleticism to fit into gaps a blow up plays behind the line of scrimmage. He also seems to hold his own on film when defending against zone schemes, maintaining his leverage so that the offensive lineman cannot fully engage him, then exploding to make a play.In his three years at LSU, Roy posted 97 total tackles, 13.5 of those were for a loss, 4 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, and 1 forced fumble. Roy plays a position of need for the Vikings so he will get plenty of reps this off-season and a chance at playing from day one.
  3. DeWayne McBride, RB: Rookie 7th-round running back DeWayne McBride comes to the team as one of the most productive collegiate runners in the last two years. Even though he played against “weaker competition”, he made the most of every opportunity. The Vikings are hoping he is ready to contribute as the team released superstar running back Dalvin Cook a few weeks ago, leaving only Alexander Mattison as the “lead” back. McBride brings a combination of size, power, and elusiveness which allows him to shed tackles and hit the running gaps with ease. He is a patient runner who waits for his blocks to develop in front of him while he decides which one is the most desirable option. It will be interesting to see whether he earns a role on the offense this year, but if he does, he could be a viable option to the Vikings offense this season. In his three year career at UAB, McBride had 3,523 rushing yards, and 36 touchdowns.
  4. Mekhi Blackmon, CB: Blackmon has the chance to be an absolute stud for this team. First thing I noticed is that Blackmon is fearless when it comes down to making plays in the running game. His versatility in coverage is second to none in this rookie class as well. He has the ability to man up any receiver, and he also is a very good zone defender. Blackmon however, may not be physical enough to press receivers as he should. But his speed and football IQ make up for his lack of physicality. The one thing that has me ranking Blackmon at 4 is his injury history, and he really only flashed in his final year at USC. Before going to USC, Blackmon played 4 years at Colorado. In his five years in college, Blackmon had 142 total tackles, 5 interceptions, and 1 sack. We’ll see if he can jump guys like Andrew Booth Jr and Akayleb Evans on the depth chart in camp. Until then, Blackmon may have to wait his turn, and make the most out of every opportunity given to him.
  5. Ivan Pace, ILB: Hot take alert. This dude can play ball. He may be undersized, but what he lacks in size, he more than makes up for with his heart and his toughness. Ivan Pace jumps off the screen when you watch his tape. The guy can straight fly around and make plays. With Eric Kendricks gone, and only Brian Asomoah and Jordan Hicks left, I believe Pace has a very good shot at making the 53-man roster, and eventually, earning a bigger role. Pace was one of the most productive linebackers in all of college football last year and earned multiple All-American rosters. He started his collegiate career in Miami of Ohio, then wound up at the University of Cincinnati. Pace made the switch between conferences seem easier than it should have been. In his four years of college ball, Pace put up 306 total tackles, 41.5 tackles for loss, 20 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 1 interception. Flores will love a guy like Pace who is able to get his nose dirty in the blitz packages, but also disguising his coverage looks as well.

Notable Mention: OLB Andre Carter: Carter is a fairly raw prospect who will need to sharpen his skills a bit more. Prototypical developmental prospect, Carter does possess most of the tools it takes to become a starting caliber player in the NFL. He has the frame and athleticism to make you think this guy might have what it takes. At Army, Carter was moved all around the field, playing multiple positions. In the NFL, it seems like it might fit him better to be in a 2-point stance. In his three years of playing in college, Carter had 96 total tackles, 19 sacks, and 5 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions. Again, more of a developmental prospect, but he’s got all the potential in the world.

While every rookie’s impact in their first year is subject to development and opportunity, these five Vikings rookies stand out as prime candidates to contribute significantly in year one. The Vikings have invested wisely in their young talent, and these rookies have the potential to make an immediate impact on the team’s success in the upcoming season.