The Minnesota Vikings have conducted a summer of intrigue with a new storefront banner (Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell), especially in the last week with a flurry of trades and roster cuts.
The regular season opens for business in 10 days at home against the Green Bay Packers, and because the Vikings rested most starters in the preseason, it’s an almighty mystery about how the team will perform when it matters.
Throughout the summer, fascinating storylines have arisen, so here are the five biggest developments since June, ranked in ascending order of importance.
5. The Sophomore Emergence of Christian Darrisaw
This one is a little iffy because it falls in a “people are saying” category, which should be avoided. Nevertheless, during the summer, Darrisaw seemed to take the proverbial next step, as folks around him have compared the young left tackle to Trent Williams. Wowzers.
Darrisaw fired up a 71.9 grade from Pro Football Focus as a rookie, so he doesn’t need sophomore-summer hype for legitimacy. Essentially, the Virginia Tech alumnus didn’t take a step back — at all — this summer. He did the opposite. In training camp, he looked like a mauler, and folks noticed.
While Darrisaw still has to “play the games,” everyone in his orbit claims he’s the real deal. The Vikings invested 1st-Round draft capital in him, mandating he pan out as a starter. Well, he might be more than just a good starter. Pro Bowl recognition could be in the near future.
4. Death to Most of the 2021 Draft Class
Read ’em and weep; these 2021 Vikings draftees have been waived in some capacity during the last few days:
- Kellen Mond (Round 3)
- Chazz Surratt (Round 3)
- Wyatt Davis (Round 3)
- Janarius Robinson (Round 4)
- Ihmir Smith-Marsette (Round 5)
- Zach Davidson (Round 5)
- Jaylen Twyman (Round 6)
This is embarrassing — but explainable because the new front office drafted none of the men. Thankfully for the Vikings sake, the aforementioned Darrisaw, Patrick Jones, Kene Nwangwu, and Camryn Bynum are trending up. That means the draft class isn’t wretched unless those four fall on their faces in 2022.
But in retrospect, the Vikings new management believed the old administration swung and missed during the 2021 NFL Draft.
3. The Jalen Reagor Trade
Out of the sky, Jalen Reagor fell and now plays for the Minnesota Vikings. Whoodathunkit?
Ihmir Smith-Marsette was waived to make room for the ex-Eagle, and that all but nominates Reagor as Minnesota’s WR4. Nobody had that on their Vikings bingo cards one week ago.
Reagor should become the Vikings punt returner with the snap of two fingers while attempting to blossom as a pass-catcher, which didn’t really materialize in Philadelphia. Based on past performance and draft-stock potential, Minnesota has a “four deep” in Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, K.J. Osborn, and of course, Reagor.
But like Darrisaw mentioned above, Reagor, too, has to “play the games” first.
2. Kellen Mond Flames Out
Once a life-after-Cousins alternative, Mond doesn’t work for the Vikings anymore. He remained employed in Minnesota for 16 months — to the day (April 30, 2021 to September 30, 2022).
Because Mond was stinky in the preseason, especially the final two games, folks felt his exodus coming. Although, for about 15 months, Mond reasonably could’ve been the Vikings QB1 down the road. He was most Vikings fans’ “ace in the hole.”
The problem? He was awful most of the time. When history reflects on the summer of 2021 for the Vikings, Mond’s fizzle is incredibly noteworthy as the Vikings must now start from scratch for planning Cousins contingency plans.
Maybe Cousins can make such plans null and void. That’s the goal.
1. Ed Ingram Immediately Seizes RG Job
A “list” like this should never have an offensive guard as the tone-setter. But these are the Vikings we’re talking about.
Minnesota has employed some looney OGs amid the last decade, and it appears Ingram won’t be one. Free-agent Jesse Davis was pegged as the starting RG when the summer began, but Ingram said “hell no” to that poppycock. The converted-tackle-to-guard Davis was an unofficial placeholder for Ingram’s ascent.
It took one preseason game for Ingram to steal his job, and Davis was traded three weeks later.
Perhaps once and for all, the Vikings have a right guard who’s a mainstay. Goodbye to all the Doziers, Samias, and Udohs.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).