Michael Renner wrote an article about one rookie to watch from every team in the league during preseason and training camp. The big emphasis is on the situation of the rookie.
The environment of a young player is crucial to a player’s development. Brian O’Neill and Christian Darrisaw had to beat out Rashod Hill during their rookie campaigns, and they both did early in the season. They had an easy path to meaningful snaps. Defensive end Everson Griffen, on the other hand, had to wait for his turn behind superstar Jared Allen and excellent starter Brian Robison. After his fourth season, and Allen’s departure, Griffen became a starter.
Another interesting player in this conversation is Tom Brady. Does he become Tom Brady in a different situation, or did he become the goat because the Patriots gave him a shot? Remember, he was a sixth-round pick, and some sixth-rounders are out of the league within one year.
Ed Ingram, Rookie to Watch
After years of watching Pat Elflein, Tom Compton, Dakota Dozier, Oli Udoh, and even Dru Samia, the Vikings finally need a solid long-term answer at the two guard positions. Ezra Cleveland has shown promise in his first two years in the league, but the right guard spot was vacant. Udoh moved back to tackle after giving up 16 penalties in 2021, the most in the league. Penalties on offense are true drive killers.
General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah responded by signing Jesse Davis, a tackle from the Dolphins, and Chris Reed, a backup guard from the Colts, in free agency. The solution reminded fans of some recent actions when signing a below-average veteran backup was the big move to fix a struggling line. Signing cheap free agents won’t fix a weakness on the offensive line. However, Adofo-Mensah didn’t stop there and added Ingram in the draft.
Ingram is a powerful guard with the athletic ability to play in the Vikings zone blocking scheme. He played for LSU since 2017 and has a lot of experience against top competition, including playoff experience. Another bonus is that he’s a true guard, unlike players like Cleveland and Udoh, who both came into the league as tackles.
Ingram was starting at LSU way back as a true freshman in 2017. He’s battle-tested against the best competition in America. Even still, he took a sizable performance leap in 2021 with an 82.6 pass-blocking grade.
Michael Renner, PFF, about Ed Ingram
To have a guard with his strength at pass protection is also something new in Minnesota. The previous regime, with Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman at the helm, preferred athletic run blocking specialists. Garrett Bradbury is the best example of that. He is a good run blocker and a terrible pass protector. Accordingly, quarterback Kirk Cousins is under pressure a lot.
In his seven-year career, Jesse Davis has never earned an overall grade higher than 62.6. He is not the long-term answer up front and, hopefully, not even the short-term one. A second-round guard should be a starter in Year 1, and that’s what you want to see play out in camp with Ingram.
Michael Renner, PFF
Davis played right tackle for the Dolphins in the last couple of years, and it was a disaster. He’s better at guard, but as Renner said, he’s not a longer-term solution. Ingram has a much higher upside and comes into the league pro-ready after years in the SEC. Second-round guards usually play sooner rather than later.
So far in training camp, Davis is getting most first-team reps. However, he had a few ‘veteran rest days,’ and Ingram saw action with the starters. The preseason will be a big chance for Ingram to showcase his talent. The Las Vegas Raiders will be the Vikings’ first opponent on August 14th. It’s still early in camp, so he can usurp Davis at some point. Even if Davis is the Week 1 starter against Green Bay, the emergence of Ingram later in the season is likely.
Other Vikings rookies with a chance to start are the two top picks, Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth. Cine has to battle against 2021 rookie Camryn Bynum who had some excellent games during his rookie year. Booth’s way to the field is beating out Cameron Dantzler, who’s having a great camp in his own right.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt