1. Jayron Kearse – S
The Vikings took Jayron Kearse in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Mike Zimmer loved his long, lanky frame, and his ability to lay a big hit. Kearse made the team the old-fashioned way. He was a special teams stallion early in his career. He would fly down the field and was often the first one to lay a hit or down the football.
Kearse also splashed on defense in the preseason his rookie year, often making a big play when his number was called. Since then, Kearse has been used in spot duty for the Vikings defense in a variety of forms. He has been used as a backup safety, a nickel-back, and even was considered to play some linebacker. His versatility has been a godsend for the Vikings’ defense.
Kearse has made some big-time plays in his Vikings career. He was key in the Vikings beating both the Dallas Cowboys this season, as well as the Denver Broncos. The Broncos game was especially impressive as Kearse made just about every single play on the Broncos final series that lead the team to a comeback victory.
Sadly, Kearse has expressed his desire to not come back to Minnesota. He wants the chance to start somewhere and will likely get it. He is a player who will be missed, especially on special teams.