With the way the Minnesota Vikings approached the NFL Draft, there’s a chance that their top two draft picks Mike Hughes and Brian O’Neill could both win jobs or end up as depth for 2018. Many of the Vikings’ opponents will be looking to their rookies to make an impact right way. Let’s have a look at which players could play a significant role in Vikings games this year…
San Francisco – WR, Dante Pettis
Washington’s highly productive receiver joins a 49ers team with a rising star quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo and offensive wizard head coach in Kyle Shanahan. San Francisco’s second-round pick grabbed 22 touchdown passes over the last two years in college and averaged nearly 14 yards per catch. He may become a slot receiver under Shanahan and act as a top target for Jimmy G.
Green Bay – CB, Jaire Alexander
After posting the second worst quarterback rating against, the Packers loaded up on corners in the draft by picking Alexander and Josh Jackson. Both will likely play a big role when the Vikings travel to Green Bay in Week 2. Of course, their task won’t be easy against Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Alexander is known as a technically proficient, physical corner, which could make for some good battles.
Buffalo – LB, Tremaine Edmunds
This one highly depends on whether Josh Allen wins the starting job over AJ McCarron. If not, the Bills’ other first-round pick will likely get a chance to play right away. Edmunds is a physical freak at 6-foot-5, 253 pounds and a 4.54 40-yard dash. He could be one of the rare linebackers who can match up with big tight ends and chase down running backs in the passing game.
Los Angeles – LB, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
The Rams gave up their top draft picks in trades, but may have found a gem in the fifth round. Okoronkwo had 17.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks last season with Oklahoma. He may end up with a rotational pass rushing role in Wade Phillips’ defense.
Philadelphia – TE, Dallas Goedert
Compared to Zach Ertz in the lead up to the draft, Goedert will play alongside one of the NFL’s best tight ends in Philly. Last year in the NFC title game, Ertz ripped up the Vikings, meaning they will be focusing on him closely this season. Doug Pederson may turn to his rookie as a change up.
Arizona – WR, Christian Kirk
If Rosen wins the job over Sam Bradford, he belongs here as the biggest impact player, but if not Kirk will have a shot to become a top target right away. The Cardinals have David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, but not a lot else. The second rounder from Texas A&M has the quickness and strength to become a good inside receiver right away.
New York Jets – DT, Nathan Shepherd
Same concept applies to Sam Darnold that pertains to Josh Allen and Josh Rosen. If he starts, then he is the most important rookie. Otherwise, it’s the defensive lineman from Fort Hays State. Shepherd may have been on the Vikings’ radar in the draft because of his complete dominance of a lower level. As an all-around talent and disrupter, he could carve out a role quickly.
New Orleans – DE, Marcus Davenport
The Saints must have really loved Davenport to trade away assets to move up in the first round. The 6-foot-7 pass rusher had 8.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss last season. If he translates in short order, the Saints will have a dangerous pass rush with him and Cameron Jordan.
Detroit – C, Frank Ragnow
The apple of the Vikings’ eye will now be battling in the trenches against them. Ragnow is an NFL-ready lineman with rare size/quickness/strength. He will get an introduction into the NFL matching p with Linval Joseph.
Chicago – WR, Anthony Miller
While the Bears nabbed a top linebacker and center in the draft, they may have gotten one of the biggest steals in Anthony Miller. The Memphis wide receiver is considered a dynamic receiver with outstanding elusiveness. Chicago also hired a new head coach in Matt Nagy, who could find a niche for his rookie right away.
New England – OL, Isaiah Wynn
The Patriots’ first-round pick was listed as a guard leading up to the draft, but he will reportedly get a shot at playing tackle. At Georgia, Wynn was very technically sound and aggressive. We will know by the time they play the Vikings whether he’ll be taking on Joseph and Sheldon Richardson or Everson Griffen/Danielle Hunter.
Seattle – DL, Rasheem Green
The Seahawks drafted a running back in the first round – to the surprise of everyone considering their recent offensive line struggles. It isn’t often that a RB takes over against the Vikings, but D-lineman Rasheem Green, who was very productive at USC with 10.0 sacks, could disrupt things on the interior line if Seattle throws him right into the fire.
Miami – TE, Mike Gesicki
The Vikings’ linebackers could be in for a tough matchup if Gesicki adjusts to the NFL quickly. He ranked as one of the most impressive athletes in the draft and dominated contested catches at Penn State. At very least, he will end up as a mismatch TE who lines up outside at times.