If the Minnesota Vikings make noise in the 2022 regular season and playoffs, they’ll do it their way with a uniquely organic ballclub.
How? Well, at the moment, the Vikings have 40 players on the 90-man summer roster of which they drafted, according to Spotrac.com. That’s 44% of all Vikings players — selected in an NFL Draft by either Rick Spielman or new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.
Up and down the roster, from offense to defense, the spread of drafted players is relatively equitable. If the Vikings draft a player in the spring, he is likely to remain with the organization, more so than other franchises. The Dallas Cowboys are the closest team to the Vikings in this drafted-players metric, showcasing 36 organically drafted men as of June. Here’s the “leaders” list of drafted players currently on the roster:
The Houston Texans, a team forecasted for a paltry sum of wins in 2022, ranks at the bottom for drafted players with just 19 on its 90-man roster.
Outside of the New York Giants — and arguably the Vikings in the last two seasons — the teams inhabiting the “leaderboard” are structurally sound clubs that tend to win. That is, drafting players, retaining them, and playing them on Sunday seems to be a model for success. Ask the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers about it.
In theory, the Vikings could release a slew of drafted players this September when the team whittles the depth chart to 53 players for the regular season, but it is unlikely that Minnesota would tumble too far down this list. And that means the Vikings will embark on the 2022 campaign — a season exhibiting a new general manager and coaching staff — with homegrown players.
Where do the Vikings “lack” if so many players are acquired via the draft? Free agency. Currently, Minnesota has just 19 players who joined the team from free agency over the last few years. Compared to teams like the aforementioned Texans, who have 41 free agents, or Las Vegas Raiders (30), the Vikings don’t employ as many free agents as other franchises.
It is unclear if the drafted-players trend will continue. Because the roster heading into 2022 is mostly of a conglomeration of Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer’s draft efforts, Adofo-Mensah could offload current players over the next few offseasons in favor of free agency. That’s not guaranteed to occur, but it is on the table.
For now, however, the Vikings have the most homegrown football team in the business. Almost half the roster is men scouted and plucked from the NFL Draft by Spielman and Adofo-Mensah.
If Adofo-Mensah wishes to add additional free agents this summer, he has around $11 million in cap space.
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).