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Six Players To Keep an Eye on During Padded Practices

Things are about to get interesting.

As exciting as it is for training camp to finally be upon us, it’s nearly impossible to reach to any major conclusions in good faith. Up until this point, the Vikings have been exclusively holding non-padded practices. The problem is, these conditions make it easy for the offense to look good, due to the lack of physicality present.

That’s all about to change, as today marks the first real practice, so to speak. The pads are coming on, and we’re about to see who is and isn’t deserving of the hype. So without further ado, here are six players to keep an eye on during padded practices.

Marcus Davenport

While most of the attention will be on Danielle Hunter, who is set to participate in practice for the first time this offseason, Marcus Davenport to me is the more intriguing player. Davenport still has a ton of upside as a former 1st round pick, and boasts one of the highest pressure rates among pass rushers. Marcus’s problem is that he doesn’t get the sack totals you’d expect of a player of his draft pedigree. Perhaps Brian Flores can help revitalize his career in 2023.

Ed Ingram

Another player in the trenches to closely monitor is Ed Ingram, who struggled mightily last year. Believe it or not, pass protection was supposed to be Ed Ingram’s calling card coming out of LSU. Yet in his rookie season, Ingram showed more promise as a run blocker. The big question with Ingram is whether or not he’s able to show his ability in pass protection like he did in his collegiate career.

Brian Asamoah

Brain Asamoah is an ascending talent at linebacker who showed some promise in a limited role last season. Asamoah was one of the best pure athletes in last year’s linebacker class. However, I do question his ability as a pass rusher and a run defender. I also wonder if the rigors of starting all 17 games will affect Asamoah’s performance as the season progresses.

Josh Oliver

Who would’ve thought that one of our most important offseason signings would be a blocking tight end of all things? The Vikings signed Josh Oliver to a three year, $21 million deal. Since then, Wes Phillips has taken note of Oliver’s big frame: “When [Josh Oliver] gets that train rolling, he’s a tough cover just due to his size.” Phillips said. Aside from being an elite run blocker, I want to see Josh Oliver emerge as a red-zone threat and build a good rapport with Kirk Cousins.

Joejuan Williams

Another player who brings a lot of size and physicality is Joejuan Williams. The former second round pick struggled to live up to expectations with the New England Patriots. However, he has experience playing in Brian Flores’ defense and has been working with the first team throughout the offseason. My biggest question with Williams is whether or not his physicality and 6’3”, 212 pound frame will be able to compensate for his below average speed and acceleration? If it doesn’t, I wouldn’t expect Joejuan Williams to be a starter for very long.

Jordan Addison

Despite missing a good chunk of the offseason program with a tweak, Jordan Addison has looked impressive in the small amount of time we’ve seen him in practice. His route running is good as advertised, and he seems to have reliable hands. The real question with Addison is, does he have the play strength and physicality to beat press coverage? We’re about to find out today.

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