After the team’s first two preseason games this year, a few of the Minnesota Vikings 2019 rookies have looked pretty impressive.
One of the biggest keys of every preseason for the Minnesota Vikings is the play of their rookies. For the veterans, the Vikings generally have a good idea of what they bring to the table. But for the rookies, it is a completely different story.
So far, Minnesota’s first-year players are off to a good start after the team’s two preseason games this summer.
The play of the Vikings 2019 first-round pick, center Garrett Bradbury, has especially earned some praise not just from the fans, but also from both the local and national media.
Since 2014, Minnesota has had one of the worst offensive lines (excluding 2017) in the NFL. If Bradbury even has an average rookie campaign this year, it will be a big help to the Vikings. Obviously, the better he plays, the more it will benefit the team.
Second-round pick, Irv Smith Jr., has looked good for Minnesota this summer as well. Not just with catching passes, but the young tight end has delivered some good blocks too.
With fellow tight end Kyle Rudolph and wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen in the mix, Smith is not expected to be a featured part of the Vikings’ offense this season. But he could very well make some plays here and there.
If Smith even has a quarter of as good of a rookie season as some guy in the Hall of Fame that used to make huge plays for the Vikings wearing No. 84, the team will very happily take that. In Minnesota’s two preseason games this year, he has hauled in a total of eight passes for 49 yards and a touchdown.
Vikings rookie running back Alexander Mattison has also turned some heads with his play this preseason. Third-year running back Dalvin Cook is no doubt the starter for Minnesota this season. But with the loss of Latavius Murray to free agency this year, the Vikings need someone to pick up the slack as Cook’s backup.
During Minnesota’s two preseason games this year, Mattison has rushed for 71 yards on 19 carries and he caught a one-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins in the team’s first exhibition matchup against the New Orleans.
Last week against the Seattle Seahawks, the Vikings young running back had plenty of room for a long gain on a screen pass, but unfortunately, the ball was just a bit overthrown by Cousins.
During Minnesota’s last two seasons, Cook has missed a total of 17 games. If he misses some time again in 2019, it will put added pressure on Mattison.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer has stressed that they will run the ball more this season, so Mattison could still see the field a bunch this year even if Cook is healthy.
Drafted in the fourth-round by Minnesota last April, guard Dru Samia has looked decent in his preseason action so far. Pat Elflein and Josh Kline will be the Vikings’ starting guards this season. But depth always matters and not having much of it has played a critical role in Minnesota’s struggles up front in four of the past five seasons.
Austin Cutting, a seventh-round pick by the Vikings this year, has already earned the long snapper job as the team recently said goodbye to Kevin McDermott, who held the position the previous four seasons.
Does the performance from some of these Minnesota rookies in the preseason guarantee that they will have a successful 2019 season? Not at all, as it’s still far too early to determine if this will happen from just a few series in a pair of exhibition games.
For the rest of the preseason, they simply all just need to stay as healthy as possible. And if are able to do this, they need to continue to show improvement out on the field.
So far, Bradbury, Smith, and Mattison have passed their early tests during training camp and the preseason. They haven’t done anything too spectacular, but they are all certainly moving in the right direction.
The Vikings third preseason matchup against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday will especially be huge for Bradbury, given that the starters are expected to get more playing time.
As for the rest of Minnesota’s rookies, how they play in the team’s fourth and final preseason game of the year could determine if they make the team’s final roster or not.