Redrafting The Vikings 2022 Rookie Class

Despite going 13-4 this past season, the 2022 Vikings appear to have had a lot of misses regarding their 2022 draft. Due to a combination of injuries and an overall lack of snaps, this class appears to be one of the league’s weaker.

Today we are going to do a complete redraft of the Vikings 2022 rookie class. It will be very interesting to see the players that they passed on in favor of the players they drafted.

Round 1, Pick 32
Original Pick: Safety Lewis Cine, Georgia New Pick: Safety Jalen Pitre, Baylor

Due to Cine sustaining a broken leg early in the season, it’s unknown how good he would have been as a rookie. However, what we do know is that Baylor’s Jalen Pitre emerged as arguably the best safety from this past draft, ultimately becoming a core contributor to an otherwise lackluster Texans defense and a building block on a rebuilding team.

In his rookie season, Pitre recorded 147 total tackles (including 99 solo tackles), one sack, five interceptions, and eight passes defended. Those stats likely would have outpaced Cine’s as a rookie, and they also outpaced those of second-year Vikings safety Camryn Bynum, as Pitre’s overall stats beat Bynum’s by a long shot.

While the Vikings made the right move to draft a safety, this may be just a case of choosing the wrong one.

Round 2, Pick 42
Original Pick: CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson
New Pick: WR George Pickens, Georgia

With veteran receiver Adam Thielen getting up there in age and showing a sharp decline in 2022, this would have been the perfect spot to draft an eventual Thielen replacement. That is why, in this redraft, the Vikings take receiver George Pickens from Georgia.

Pickens was a bright spot on an otherwise anemic Steelers offense this season, catching 52 passes for 801 yards and four touchdowns, while also recording four carries for 24 yards and a rushing touchdown.

Though third-year receiver K.J. Osborn emerged as the team’s likely WR2 of the future in 2022, Pickens would have been a very nice receiver to pair with Osborn and superstar receiver Justin Jefferson. Imagine Jefferson and Pickens tormenting offenses all day with highlight-reel one-handed grabs.

Round 2, Pick 59
Original Pick: Guard Ed Ingram, LSU
New Pick: Guard Dylan Parham, Memphis

Based on his play in 2022, it’s safe to say that Ingram was a little bit of a reach by the Vikings. Whether it was tripping Kirk Cousins or allowing Cousins to get consistently sacked (he allowed a league-high 11 sacks), Ingram was not good as a rookie despite playing 1,168 snaps, fifth in the league among all offensive linemen.

Parham, meanwhile, contributed nicely to the Raiders offensive line. Despite allowing six sacks during the season, Parham was only penalized five times while playing 1,036 snaps.

Round 3, Pick 66
Original Pick: LB Brian Asamoah, Oklahoma
New Pick: LB Brian Asamoah, Oklahoma

Asamoah didn’t get much playing time during the season, seeing only 121 defensive snaps on the year, but he certainly flashed his potential during his time on the field.

Buried on the depth chart behind veterans Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks, Asamoah played mostly on special teams during the season and didn’t see a defensive snap until Week 5, but began to break out as the season went on. His biggest play was a forced fumble and recovery against the Giants in Week 16, a key factor in the Vikings winning that game.

For a defense that needs to get younger and faster in 2023, Asamoah’s speed and youth will be valuable assets to the team moving forward.

Round 4, Pick 118
Original Pick: CB Akayleb Evans, Iowa
New Pick: CB Tariq Woolen, UTSA

Concussions and the depth chart limited Evans to just ten games with two starts as a rookie, and while he wasn’t bad by any means, 23 tackles, two pass deflections, and a forced fumble can definitely be improved upon.

Meanwhile, outside of Jets rookie superstar Sauce Gardner, Woolen proved to be the cream of the crop when it came to rookie cornerbacks in 2022. The Seahawks rookie led the NFL with six interceptions (including a pick-six), defended 15 passes, and recovered three fumbles. There’s a reason why he was called the new Richard Sherman by the media during the season.

Evans could turn out to be a great player for the Vikings if he can stay healthy and be given the right opportunities, but Woolen showed that he is on track to become something special.

Round 5, Pick 165
Original Pick: DE Esezi Otomewo, Minnesota
New Pick: LB Malcolm Rodriguez, Oklahoma State

We didn’t see a lot of Otomewo in 2022, but we did see a lot of Rodriguez, the Lions rookie linebacker who proved to be a star in the making.

An off-ball linebacker, Rodriguez recorded 87 tackles, one sack, a forced fumble and recovery, and two passes defended. There is a reason why he was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team for this past season and proved himself to be the Lions’ defensive captain of the future.

Round 5, Pick 169
Original Pick: RB Ty Chandler, North Carolina
New Pick: OT Jamaree Salyer, Georgia

It’s possible that Chandler sees more playing time for the Vikings in 2023, given that it’s basically assured that one of Dalvin Cook or Alexander Mattison, or possibly both, will not be with the team next season. Factor in Chandler’s injury early in the year, and you get a guy that could be a wild card for the team next season.

However, in this redraft, the Vikings address their offensive line with a tackle from Georgia’s 2021 National Championship-winning team in the form of Jamaree Salyer, who started 14 games at left tackle for the Chargers in 2022 following an injury to starter Rashawn Slater. He proved himself to be serviceable, playing 989 snaps and only committing three penalties despite allowing five sacks. The Vikings could have used someone like him at a guard spot this season.

Round 6, Pick 184
Original Pick: OT Vederian Lowe, Illinois
New Pick: LB James Houston, Jackson State

Lowe was another Vikings rookie who did not see a lot of action in 2022, only being called up during the second half of season finale against the Bears.

Houston, meanwhile, would have been a great impact player for the Vikings defense, who needed a consistent pass rusher alongside Danielle Hunter after Za’Darius Smith cooled off from his scorching first half start to the season. Once Houston moved up the depth chart due to injuries, he racked up eight sacks in nine games. Houston is going to be a good player for years to come in Detroit, and it sucks that the Vikings passed up on him.

Round 6, Pick 191
Original Pick: WR Jalen Nailor, Michigan State
New Pick: WR Jalen Nailor, Michigan State

For their second sixth-round pick, the Vikings stick with Nailor. Though buried on the depth chart for the majority of the season, Nailor got some playing time towards the end of the season. This was highlighted by a Week 17 contest against the Packers that saw Nailor catch three passes for 89 yards and a touchdown in the 41-17 loss.

Nailor has the chance to develop into a solid WR3/WR4 for the Vikings, but the team needs to give him the right opportunity to do so.

Round 7, Pick 227
Original Pick: TE Nick Muse, South Carolina
New Pick: RB Isiah Pacheco, Rutgers

Despite the fun name, Muse did not get much playing time for the Vikings. In fact, he did not see a single offensive snap this season and exclusively played on special teams. Should the team keep both T.J. Hockenson and Irv Smith Jr, Muse will be relegated to TE4 behind those two and Johnny Mundt.

Meanwhile, the Vikings could have used someone like Pacheco in their backfield this season. The rookie quickly proved himself to be a dynamic part of the Chiefs offense this year, rushing for 830 yards and five touchdowns while racking up 130 receiving yards. He was efficient on special teams as well, racking up 597 total return yards. All in all, 1,557 all purpose yards isn’t that bad for a seventh-round rookie.

This redraft ultimately saw the Vikings come away with major improvements to the defensive backfield and linebacking corps, in addition to adding other reinforcements to the offensive line and running back groups. It’s too early to fully grade the Vikings 2022 draft class, as we have only seen one year out of them, but this class ultimately leaves a lot to be desired. Imagine what could have been had the Vikings drafted these guys instead of the ones that they actually drafted.
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