The Minnesota Vikings have gotten off to an 0-2 start in typical Minnesota fashion. In back-to-back games the team created what should have been two game winning drives, but instead a fumble and a missed kick ended up with zero tallies in the win column.
After their disappointing start a Tweet circled around social media pointing out the fact that zero of the Vikings’ 11 2021 draft picks played an offensive or defensive snap in Arizona.
Although this isn’t a great look, it’s still far too early to have concern about the state of this year’s draft class.
Within the first two rounds the Vikings only had one pick and they decided to address the hole at left tackle. Christian Darrisaw was graded out as an impressive pick, especially because the team traded back and acquired two additional third-round picks in the process.
Darrisaw hasn’t dressed for a game yet due to a lingering injury he had all summer long, so he needs to get healthy before a call can be made on that selection.
The four picks the team had within the third-round went as follows: Kellen Mond, Chazz Surratt, Wyatt Davis and Patrick Jones II. Mond was taken as a developmental quarterback, Surratt is entering his third season of playing linebacker after transitioning from quarterback, Davis fell later than expected and Jones II was looked at as another raw pass rusher.
It’s not strange to see players drafted in the third round and beyond have limited roles early on in their careers. Davis was looked at as a potential starter but had ups and downs throughout training camp while Oli Udoh cemented himself as the clear-cut starter.
Jones II may have seen more significant playing time, but the signings of Everson Griffen and Stephan Weatherly made it clear that Mike Zimmer wanted veterans on all three phases of the defense. D.J. Wonnum also had a strong training camp making it even harder for rookies to jump out at that position.
Two of the three fourth-round rookies found themselves on the IR, while Camryn Bynum was never going to see snaps on defense barring an injury to Harrison Smith or Xavier Woods.
The final three picks of the draft consisted of a great athlete that won the kickoff return duties in camp, a tight end that was a part of the team’s final cuts and a sixth-round defensive tackle that wouldn’t have likely seen playing time regardless of the circumstances.
Ihmir Smith-Marsette was looked at as a camp standout, but KJ Osborn broke out and the team brought in Dede Westbrook. It’s hard to expect a fifth-round rookie to come in and be a difference maker right away, especially when playing wide receiver in Minnesota.
Even looking at the 2020 draft class should show Vikings fans it’s too early to overreact about limited roles for the 2021 class just two games into the season.
Justin Jefferson didn’t get full exposure to the offense until he broke out in Week 3 last year, Cameron Dantzler got off to a slow start and Osborn didn’t record a catch all year prior to his first two breakout games in 2021.
Going back even further to the 2015 class, Stefon Diggs didn’t see a role in that offense until the quarter way point, and he’s now looked at as a top receiver in the league.
Patience is a virtue when it comes to rookies in the NFL, especially when there hasn't been a need at forcing someone onto the field too early in their careers like we saw in 2020. The Vikings adding at least one key veteran at the majority of the positions they took in the draft should have made it clear the rookies wouldn’t make an immediate impact.
To take that one step further, Zimmer has always eased rookies into the NFL for the most part. Whether or not that’s a good thing is an argument for another day. Regardless, the Vikings draft class was graded out well back in May and that shouldn’t really change just two weeks into the season.
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