Every year beat writers come up with standouts in the offseason. It can be a rookie who looks really good like Cameron Dantzler in 2020, and it can be a player who got a lot better in the months away from the team like K.J. Osborn last season. He did not see the field on offense as a rookie and was only a special teamer. In his second year, however, Osborn had a surprise breakout season with 655 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, including a game-winner in overtime against the Carolina Panthers.
ESPN came up with an article named ‘Surprise offseason standouts for all 32 NFL teams: Under-the-radar players to know from minicamp workouts‘ in which they asked their beat reporters from every team. For the Vikings, that person is Kevin Seifert. He named a true surprise offseason standout for the Vikings. A player that doesn’t get a lot of attention.
Brian Asamoah was the fourth draft selection of general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s career. The third-round linebacker out of Oklahoma is an athletic but undersized linebacker. That’s what teams want in the modern NFL, where speed is the most important attribute. And his speed is precisely what Seifert enjoys most about Asamoah:
Asamoah’s sideline-to-sideline speed was plainly evident in non-contact practices, as was his confidence. He joked with an assistant coach that he wanted $5 every time he ran past someone. “I’m a rich man now,” he said, “because I keep passing them.”
Asamoah took a massive leap in his last season for the Sooners. He finished the year with 80 tackles, one sack, and two forced fumbles.
Adofo-Mensah selected the linebacker with the 66th pick, a pick acquired from the Detroit Lions. He has to go up against the star defender Eric Kendricks and veteran free agent acquisition Jordan Hicks. However, there might be a spot in the lineup despite facing tough competition and playing in a 3-4 defense that allows just two middle linebackers.
In Which Role He Could Play
In some packages, the Vikings could still play with three linebackers. Especially when they need to cover an athletic tight end, Asamoah might be the guy for that task. Early in his career, that might be a good way to find a way to the field. He also is a good tackler, despite his 226 pounds, which makes him one of the lightest players at his position in the league.
Other linebackers in the building are Chazz Surratt, a 2021 third-rounder, Blake Lynch, and Troy Dye. Hicks and Kendricks rarely miss a snap, but if the rookie performs at a high level in training camp, there’s a chance to earn more snaps if defensive coordinator Ed Donatell wants to give his veterans a snap off at times.
Long-term, the Vikings obviously view him as a big part of their plans, as an early pick in the third round is a big investment. Hicks and Kendricks are both 30 years old. That gives Asamoah time to play in some packages and learn the game behind two smart veterans. The Vikings rookie, deemed an offseason standout, is already a good sign for his development.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. He chose the Vikings as his favorite team, despite Christian Ponder being the quarterback at the time. 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