The 2022 NFL season is just a few months away, and before fans know it football will be being played once again. With the start of the new year continuing to near and the 2022 NFL Draft in the rearview mirror (here is a review of the Vikings draft), projections for all of the NFL teams have begun. The Minnesota Vikings, led by a new general manager and head coach this season, will field a relatively similar team in 2022 as they did in 2021, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Before off-season camps commence, here is a look at the early projections and predictions for who could fill out the roster on offense for the Vikings this season.
Minnesota Vikings 2022 Offensive Roster Projection
Kirk Cousins, Kellen Mond, Sean Mannion
Kirk Cousins has continued to do a nice job in leading the Vikings offense and that will continue once again in 2022 as Minnesota tries to get back to the postseason. In 2021, Cousins appeared in 16 regular-season games for the Vikings, throwing for 4,221 yards and 33 touchdowns while completing 66.3 percent of his pass attempts with just seven interceptions. It appears Cousins will lead Minnesota’s quarterback group for as long as he is wearing purple and gold.
Kellen Mond has not quite lived up to expectations after the Vikings drafted him in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Although he has not really had to step into a large role due to Cousins serving as the permanent starter, Minnesota was hoping Mond could be the quarterback of the future when it took a chance on him in the draft. He could continue to develop and improve in the next year or two to eventually become the new starter, but he has some work to do to prove he can be the guy as he enters his sophomore season in 2022.
Sean Mannion is the typical veteran backup who should once again serve as an emergency option if Cousins cannot take the field and Mond is not ready to fill in under center. Mannion has spent the last two years with the Vikings in a backup role, appearing in one game a season ago while throwing for 189 yards and one touchdown. It is good to have someone like Mannion as an emergency option, and he will fill that role again if he makes the roster.
Dalvin Cook, C.J. Ham, Alexander Mattison, Kene Nwangwu, Ty Chandler
Dalvin Cook has and will continue to be a star in the NFL, and he has seen a lot of success in his first five years in the league. Cook is the perfect option out of the backfield to not only take attention away from the passing game but to take over a game both with his legs and as a pass-catching option out of the backfield. He will lead this unit once again in 2022.
C.J. Ham is about as steady as they come at the fullback position, and he continues to be a hidden gem for the Vikings. Ham, entering his sixth season in the NFL in 2022, took the field in all 17 games for Minnesota in 2021, rushing for 34 yards on seven attempts, while also hauling in 17 catches for 125 yards.
Alexander Mattison could be next in line to replace Cook should he ever depart from Minnesota, and his play has trended upward since he arrived in the NFL in 2019. A season ago, Mattison played in 16 games and started in four, tallying a career-high 134 rushes for 491 yards and three touchdowns, while also notching 32 catches for 228 yards and one touchdown through the air.
Kene Nwangwu was a pleasant surprise in 2021 and proved he deserves a spot on the roster moving forward. In 11 games a season ago, the former fourth-round draft pick had 13 rushes for 61 yards and also caught four receptions for nine yards. He will continue to develop and improve in 2022.
Ty Chandler will be at the bottom of the running back depth chart if he makes the roster, but it will be worth seeing what the 2022 fifth-round draft pick can do and develop into. Chandler will have his work cut out for him to get a lot of playing time, but he could be a useful part of the special teams unit.
Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, K.J. Osborn, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Jalen Nailor, Olabisi Johnson, Albert Wilson
Justin Jefferson is a star in the NFL already, and his third year in the NFL will not be any different. Jefferson is officially the top receiving option on the Vikings after there were questions of whether or not he could continue to step up heading into the 2021 season. But a year ago, he shined once again while emerging as a top 10 receiver in the league, and he will continue to step up in 2022.
Adam Thielen is getting near the end of the line in his NFL career, but he will once again be a nice pairing to go alongside Jefferson. After restructuring his contract this off-season, Thielen proved he wants to remain with the Vikings and is one of the top number two options in the NFL.
K.J. Osborn was one of the most improved offensive players on the Vikings in 2021, taking the field in 17 games and starting in nine after not playing at all in his rookie season in 2020. A season ago, Osborn filled the third option on the depth chart with 50 catches for 655 yards and seven touchdowns, and he is poised to step up once again this year.
Ihmir Smith-Marsette stepped up right away as a rookie in 2021 after being drafted in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Smith-Marsette is a nice young option to continue to give playing time to and that could continue even more in 2022.
Jalen Nailor might serve more on special teams, but he should be a servicable player and the Vikings might want to see what he could develop into. Nailor was selected by the Vikings in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft out of Michigan State.
Olabisi Johnson did not appear in any games during the 2021 season due to injury, but he could have a bounce back campaign in 2022 if he indeed makes the roster. Johnson was once viewed as a player who could emerge as the third option at wideout, but he needs to stay on the field to try and do that this year.
Albert Wilson signed with the Vikings this off-season after playing with the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins throughout the first seven years of his NFL career. Wilson will have to prove himself to earn a spot on the depth chart but he could continue to build off of a 2021 season which saw 25 catches for 213 yards while he was with the Dolphins.
Irv Smith Jr., Ben Ellefson, Johnny Mundt
Irv Smith Jr. was supposed to be the top tight end target in Minnesota in 2021 until an injury ended his season before it even started. Now healthy, he will return to the Vikings to lead this group, and Minnesota will have very high hopes for the former second-round pick in his third NFL season.
Ben Ellefson did not do a lot production-wise for the Vikings a season ago, appearing in just five games. But the tight end is still very young at 25 years old and has plenty of time to develop behind Smith Jr.
Johnny Mundt joined the Vikings after playing the first five seasons of his career with the Los Angeles Rams, and he followed Kevin O’Connell to Minnesota to help fill out the tight end depth chart. Mundt will likely see the most time behind Smith Jr., especially early on with his familiarity in O’Connell’s system on offense.
Christian Darrisaw, Ezra Cleveland, Garrett Bradbury, Jesse Davis, Brian O’Neill, Oli Udoh, Ed Ingram, Chris Reed, Austin Schlottmann
Christian Darrisaw hopes to build off a rookie season that saw him appear in 12 games (10 starts) while being on the field for 84 percent of the Vikings offensive snaps. The lineman is just 23 years old, so there is plenty of time to develop him.
Ezra Cleveland has continued to take steps in the right direction since he was drafted in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of Boise State. Cleveland took on a full-time starting role in 2021, playing in all 17 games for the Vikings while playing in 100 percent of the offensive snaps.
Garrett Bradbury has continued to shine and be one of Minnesota’s top offensive linemen, taking the field in 13 games in 2021 and starting in all 13. The Vikings just hope Bradbury can stay healthy, something that has been an issue since he broke into the league in 2019.
Jesse Davis will try to assist the Vikings offensive line, having played the first five years of his career with the Dolphins before signing with Minnesota this off-season. The veteran Davis appeared in all 17 games for Miami last year, taking part in 92 percent of the offensive snaps.
Brian O’Neill has become one of the best tackles in the NFL, and his Pro Bowl season in 2021, after playing in all 17 games for the Vikings, was proof of that. O’Neill is without a doubt the top lineman on the Vikings roster, and he will continue to be relied upon in 2022.
Oli Udoh stepped into a much larger role in 2021 after playing in a combined seven games in his first two NFL seasons in 2019 and 2020. Udoh played in all 17 games for Minnesota last year, starting in 16 of those games. He will be in the mix for a starting job once again this season.
Ed Ingram might see a somewhat limited role during his rookie season in the NFL, but there will be times fans see him on the field and he could continue to play a larger role as the year progresses. Ingram enters the league this year after being drafted in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Chris Reed will throw his name into the fold after agreeing to sign with the Vikings this off-season as a free agent. Reed appeared in 14 games with the Indianapolis Colts a season ago, starting in six of those games and playing in 57 percent of offensive snaps.
Austin Schlottmann took a bit of a step back in production in 2021, his third season with the Denver Broncos. This off-season, Schlottmann parted ways with the Broncos and signed with the Vikings to try to help a group that has been a below-average offensive line the last few years.