Much of the hype coming into the 2022 season for the Vikings is going to be focused on the stars of the team like Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, Danielle Hunter, and Erik Kendricks. This attention is certainly warranted considering that each of these names just listed are going to inevitably make a huge impact on the Vikings season. However, I wanted to look at a few under-the-radar names who could make a bigger impact in 2022 than we might expect, á la K.J. Osborn in 2021.
When the Vikings drafted Lewis Cine in the first round of the 2022 draft, many people assumed that he would immediately jump to a starting role alongside Harrison Smith. Early in training camp, however, Cam Bynum has been taking all of the first team snaps at safety. This may be the coaching staff simply giving the benefit of the doubt to the veteran, but this may not be the entire answer. Bynum was a nice surprise last season and could continue to grow into a bigger role on the defense. The most likely scenario appears to be packages with both Bynum and Cine being on the field at the same time. One option could have Smith and Bynum as the two high safeties and Cine lined up in the box as a linebacker hybrid. With the possible lack of cornerback depth on the roster Bynum will also likely see time in the slot. While it is not entirely clear what his exact role will be at this point, it does seem clear that the Vikings are going to do everything they can to give Cam Bynum a chance to make an impact on the 2022 season.
Last year’s big breakout player was K.J. Osborn who nicely filled the WR3 role on the offense. Meanwhile, rookie receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette found himself buried on the depth chart, only seeing significant action in a meaningless Week 17 game against the Bears with Adam Thielen sidelined with an injury. Smith-Marsette did flash rather significantly in that one game though, eclipsing 100 yards with a touchdown. He has blazing speed and plenty of explosiveness to solidify his spot as a big downfield target and the fourth receiver behind Jefferson, Thielen, and Osborn. If one of those guys were to miss time with an injury, Smith-Marsette certainly has the talent to move up on the depth chart. I would not be surprised to see Smith-Marsette finish the season with 500-600 yards and five or more touchdowns, which are not exactly Cooper Kupp numbers, but they would be a great success from your WR4.
In the sixth round of the 2021 draft the Vikings selected Jaylen Twyman. Twyman was an undersized defensive lineman who had produced in college, but fell in the draft due to his small stature relative to other linemen. Then, in June of last year, Twyman was shot four times and missed his entire rookie campaign. Since then, it is clear that he has put in the work to be in just as good, if not better, shape than he was before the unfortunate injury. He has shown up to camp absolutely jacked, making Danielle Hunter look like he has never done a curl in his life (see below). It’s not only his physical form that has turned some heads though. He has lived up to the hype on the field as well and is quickly becoming an early “Mr. Mankato” candidate as the unofficial fan favorite first or second year player during training camp. Twyman could not only be looking to make the 53-man roster, but he could push for a starting role along the interior of the defensive line in the new 3-4 defense, something that seemed like a long shot less than a year ago.